Even for locals who have lived through high energy bills, sweltering nights, and sweaty armpits, summer in Miami remains a rite of passage. However, with plenty of sunblock and proper hydration, even 90-degree days with 100 percent humidity are manageable. Once you’ve chugged enough water to afford a night out with a proper cocktail, you can look south for a little inspiration in your mixed-drink lineup.
Miami isn’t just a hub for incredible cuisine throughout the Americas. Many Latin restaurants are also serving traditional and innovative drinks from throughout the region. Below, have a look at five South American cocktails you should look for the next time you head out.
Pisco Mule at La Mar
In Peru, summer is best battled by downing copious amounts of chilcano. A blend of ginger ale, pisco, lime, and a dash of bitters, this classic cocktail is so popular it has its own weeklong celebration. However, as with everything else on the menu at Gastón Acurio’s acclaimed La Mar, innovation is key. Playing off the classic chilcano, La Mar’s bartenders have created the pisco mule, which uses ginger beer instead of ginger ale, adding a spicy kick that oddly makes the drink even more refreshing. Served in a classic copper mule mug, it's the perfect complement to a cool causa and a classic ceviche.
Pisco Sour at Coya
Aside from the verdant gardens, the modern vintage architecture, and a prime location in the heart of Brickell, one of the most impressive things about Coya is the pisco library located in the main bar. Featuring infusions including jalapeño, pineapple, and even herb varieties, a classic pisco sour is anything but traditional. Working off a 2-1-1 recipe of pisco, simple syrup, and lime juice, with egg white added to create an elegant froth, Coya’s sours can be standard, spicy, or just about anything in between. Ask your bartender what infusions are available so you can create your own special pisco sour.
Caipirinha at Lulu
Do a search for the best caipirinha in Miami, and chances are good you'll discover Lulu. Although this Coconut Grove standard isn't Brazilian and doesn't serve skewers of meat until you say "mother," it does use fresh ingredients. Sit at the bar and you'll find racks of fresh infusions featuring everything from chili-laced tequila to hibiscus cachaça. Dotting the shelves and bottle racks are loads of fresh herbs, which make all the difference in a proper caipirinha. At Lulu, they muddle fresh mint with house-made simple syrups, cachaça, and plenty of fresh lime juice. This is all shaken over large cubes of ice and then served in a pint glass. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better thirst-quencher.
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Chuflay at Las Americas
Pisco may be enjoying a surge in popularity throughout the States, but Bolivia’s national spirit, Singani, also made by distilling grapes, remains elusive. After friends turned him on to the spirit some years ago, filmmaker Steven Soderbergh began importing from Bolivian producer Casa Real under the name Singani 63. Celebrity endorsement aside, the drink has remained virtually unknown in the U.S. However, at the slow-to-reopen Las Americas (2772 SW Eighth St.) on the western reaches of Calle Ocho, they’ve got bottles of Casa Real in stock, and they’re ready to pour chuflays. Similar to Peru’s chilcano, the chuflay is a shot of Singani with ginger ale or lemon-lime soda, plus a wedge of lime and sometimes a dash of bitters. Whenever you’re on Calle Ocho, head to Las Americas for a classic Bolivian cocktail, and order a salteña too.
Negroni at the Vagabond Restaurant
Since opening earlier this year, the Vagabond has quickly become a Miami favorite and a pioneering restaurant in the resurgence of the MiMo District along Biscayne Boulevard. Classic isn’t necessarily on this menu, which features an original list of cocktails that pair nicely with Alex Chang’s innovative cuisine. However, the skillful bartenders behind the original creations also know how to mix up a classic Argentine favorite, the Negroni. Combining equal parts gin, campari, and sweet vermouth, with an orange rind garnish, this classic may have its roots in Italy, but it's beloved in the southern reaches of South America. After you’ve had a tour of the Vagabond’s house creations, end your night with what many would call the national cocktail of Argentina.