Cocktails & Spirits

The Pubbelly Boys' First Bar, Pawn Broker, Will Whisk You Away, for a Price

You seek out a pawnbroker only when you're desperate, right? Down to your last dime, without another nickel, you gather up what precious little you have left and hand it over for a meager wad of cash.

But the Pawn Broker (121 SE First St., Miami; 305-420-2225), perched atop the Langford Hotel in downtown Miami, is something different. Instead, you step through its marble-covered lobby into a gold-and-green elevator. It whisks you up to a dimly lit room where intricate Cuban tiles cover the floor and blood-red banquettes run along the walls. "What'll it be?" a bartender asks while polishing a crystal coupe to a glittering shine.

The fragrance fills your head, and for a moment, life's insanity slips away.

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This Pawn Broker will take your money just like the other one. But here, you'll catch a buzz. Go for the giggle water ($16) and pay your respects to those ingenious souls who during Prohibition turned their bathtubs into gin-belching stills. This is why the team under bar manager Derek Stilmann blends floral Martin Miller gin with champagne syrup and a pungent tonic water. The tincture is strained into a miniature bathtub and then covered with a thick layer of lavender foam mimicking a bubble bath. The fragrance fills your head, and for a moment, life's insanity slips away.

When you open your eyes, you see a flood of light beaming in from the outdoor patio. Here, surrounded by the downtown skyline, you'll find your evening's coup de grace. It comes in a hollowed-out pineapple, and its name is George Romero ($40). The bartenders here swap bourbon and rye for the brandy and rum found in the cocktail that inspired it, the Zombie. The pineapple and passionfruit, along with barbecue syrup and grapefruit bitters, will lull you into such a lovely stupor you might forget you had to visit this Pawn Broker.

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Zachary Fagenson became the New Times Broward-Palm Beach restaurant critic in 2012 before taking up the post for Miami in 2014. He also works as a correspondent for Reuters.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson