From rooftops to lobbies, a wave of high-style, well-thought-out drink menus and impeccable service is giving the classic concept of the hotel bar new meaning.
In Miami Beach, no others are doing it quite like the Cape, a bar that opened in late November on the rooftop of the Townhouse Hotel, where you can also find the new eatery K Ramen Burger Beer, offering upscale Asian comfort food in the hotel's basement. The bohemian-chic, open-air space offers a quiet reprieve complete with a casual lounge outfitted with rugs, couches, and string lights.
Local mixologist and consultant Brian Griffiths designed the Cape's opening menu to be fun, approachable, and intoxicating.
"This isn't your typical lobby bar; it's a beautiful rooftop space," says Griffiths, formerly of the Broken Shaker and Lucali's Bay Club and creator of the new downtown Miami bar Over Under. "I wanted to do something equally cool, laid-back, and easygoing — not a common thing you'd find at most hotel bars here in South Beach."
Instead, the Cape's liquid lineup is Griffiths' way of highlighting (and revamping) several classic cocktails ($13 each) often overlooked on other revivalist menus. What sets them apart, however, is an expert technique combined with exotic ingredients.
Take, for example, the Poncho and Lefty. "If you like margaritas," Griffiths says, "you'll like this drink." It combines avocado and jícama purée with a jalapeño-infused tequila and fresh lime juice. It's spicy, fresh, and vegetal, mellowed with the delicate creaminess of avocado and served with black sea salt on the rim.
Cake by the Ocean is a riff on the well-known (and equally bemoaned) Sex on the Beach, a classic combination of vodka, orange juice, cranberry juice, and peach schnapps. To make the drink recognizable but also fun, Griffiths swapped out the main ingredients for raspberry purée and orange emulsion. Rather than using peach schnapps, the drink is served with a beautiful tuft of peach foam that tastes as good as it looks and smells. It's a boozy drink that's both elegant and fun — not tacky.
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If you go, however, be sure to order the Star Island iced tea, Griffiths' version of a Long Island iced tea but with a Miami Beach twist. The drink marries the traditional blend of vodka, gin, rum, and tequila with a house-made white-tea simple syrup in place of the traditional cola. The real magic, however, is the butterfly pea flower extract that's used to make the ice, which changes color as the citrus reacts to the ingredients, turning the juice a pinkish purple. The final touch: a Buzz Button flower that gives a Pop Rocks-like fizzing sensation.
"We wanted the drinks to be special but not for them to be something you have to overthink. Anyone can walk into the Cape, find the perfect drink, and enjoy it without getting too caught up in what to order or what's in their glass," Griffiths says. "It's the perfect rooftop bar experience, and the view is not too bad either."
The Cape, located on the fifth-floor rooftop of the Townhouse Hotel, is open seven days a week from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.