With seven locations in Miami-Dade and one in Fort Lauderdale, Cao Bakery is quickly becoming a local favorite. Owned by the husband-and-wife team of Tony and Yvette Cao, their namesake is also an acronym for "Cuban American Original" and is a new concept built on their family tradition as former Vicky Bakery owners. The duo aims to refresh the traditional take on a pastelito shop and modernize it for the next generation of Miamians.
The Caos brought in chef Jeremiah Bullfrog to add a twist to the Cuban food menu, and customer response has been positive. The medio día — smoked country ham and creamy Gouda cheese hot-pressed between two guava and cream cheese pastelitos — has quickly found a cult following. The only thing that could make the sandwich better is a cold brew to wash it down.
Seeing an opportunity to create a space where patrons can hang out, work, eat, and drink with friends, Tony Cao enlisted the help of 2one1 Hospitality to create a beverage program for the South Beach location. Composed of Anderson veterans Joshua Alperstein and David Cedeno, 2one1 Hospitality had previously worked with Chef Bullfrog on the beverage component for his food events, and the duo welcomed the opportunity to team up with him again for the Cao menu.
Wine by the glass and bottle as well as a variety of local brews, such as Veza Sur and J. Wakefield, are already available, in addition to fresh juices and smoothies. The low-ABV cocktail menu will launch with eight drinks priced at $13 each. Alperstein and Cedeno had to get creative with the ingredients because Cao lacks a liquor license. Hewing to the bakery's new-age-meets-old-school-viejita concept, they went for a hyperlocal feel with "classic Miami patio crushers" for easy, light drinking, Cedeno says.
The standout is the Bro-jito, a mixture of house crème de menthe, lime cordial, fresh mint, blanc de blanc sparkling wine, and sugarcane. There's also the To Your Health, made with fresh ginger juice, turmeric honey, almond milk, and almond liqueur and topped with a local IPA beer. Other beverages are a house-made michelada, sangria, and a spritz.
The menu also includes cocktails that could stand in for dessert. B-A-N-A-N-A-S — containing freshly brewed espresso, coffee liqueur, Guinness beer, blended banana, and chocolate drizzle — would make Gwen Stefani holler back. And, of course, no menu is complete without frosé. Cao's version is a blend of raspberry sorbet, pineapple shrub, and Whispering Angel rosé, topped with whipped cream.
Cao South Beach will be the first location to roll out this menu, and the others will soon follow. A free launch party — set for Saturday, August 31, from 6 to 9 p.m. — will include food and drink specials, samplings of the new cocktails, and a DJ.
Cao Bakery & Cafe. 1420 Alton Rd., Miami Beach; 305-397-8002; caobakerycafe.com