In the past few years, the craft cocktail craze has inspired a much-needed wave of new bars in Miami Beach. Sure, overpriced and overhyped neon-blue slushy drinks containing cheap vodka are inevitable. But today, Collins Avenue brims with a new generation of savvy, classy, and smart watering holes.
From decades-long mainstays such as Mac's Club Deuce to more modern concepts like Broken Shaker, these are Miami Beach's ten best bars.
Broken Shaker2727 Indian Creek Dr., Miami Beach
What began as a pop-up bar in 2012 has flourished into one of the most popular spots on the Beach. At the Freehand, this backyard oasis, equipped with twinkling lights, Ping-Pong tables, and mismatched patio furniture, offers a roster of cocktails ($12 and up) that change according to the season and available fresh ingredients. Curb your hunger with bites like Korean chicken tenders or a Cuban sandwich ($14). Created by Bar Lab's Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi, Broken Shaker has racked up a number of awards, including Best American Hotel Bar at Tales of the Cocktail's Spirited Awards.
Clevelander South Beach1020 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach
If you want your burgers and beer served with a side of revelry, the Clevelander is your spot. There's really no other place where you can splash in a pool, hang out with body-painted women, and drink $5 Jack Daniel's shots chased by $5 bottles of beer (during football games). Oh, that's right — football. There's that too. Watch the big game on a 20-foot LED screen and more than 40 other TV sets throughout the property.
Mac's Club Deuce222 14th St., Miami Beach
One of the oldest and few remaining dive bars in Miami Beach, Mac's Club Deuce is the neighborhood's definitive spot to drink, play the jukebox, and shoot some pool. Not much has changed inside this legendary establishment, which opened in 1964. There's a selection of craft and domestic beer ($5 to $6) and enough liquor to satisfy even the pickiest bar fly. From 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., all drinks are two-for-one. After that, the bar stays open another ten hours for cheap drinks and spontaneous misadventures. Anthony Bourdain, who was a frequent visitor, loved the Deuce's retro vibe. The dark bar is also a hangout for celebrities seeking refuge from paparazzi, so be chill if you spot an A-lister holding a PBR.
Minibar418 Meridian Ave., Miami Beach
This South of Fifth watering hole has quickly become a favorite among locals and visitors looking for a laid-back vibe. True to its name, Minibar is a small hangout that invites conversation in the courtyard, a chat with the bartenders, or a nightcap. Two favorite cocktails — South Beach Z Pack ($13) and Pucker Up ($13) — have remained on the menu from the beginning; they're served in Minibar's signature tiny liquor bottles like the ones found in hotel minibars.
Palace Bar1052 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach
Stop by the Palace for a very South Beach experience. The gay-friendly restaurant and bar puts on drag shows every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and offers its famous Sunday drag brunch. Otherwise, know that the venue offers two bars: one indoors and designed for nighttime use, and the other semioutdoors. There's a patio with dining tables. Entertaining drag queens make the service extra-friendly. Call ahead for the drag show during Sunday brunch.
The Regent Cocktail Club1690 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Inside the Gale Hotel hides the Regent Cocktail Club, a 1940s-era speakeasy in the middle of tourist-laden South Beach. The scene is set with dim lights, antiqued furniture, old-timey champagne glasses, and a comprehensive cocktail menu created by Bar Lab. Cocktails are classic affairs, meant to be savored rather than guzzled. In short, the Regent does what every neo-bar in town has been trying to do for the past five years: make the past hip again.
The ScapeGoat100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
For some of the cheapest drinks in town, head to the ScapeGoat, where domestic bottles and tall-boy cans start at only $5. Patrons who work in the service industry get their own selection of even cheaper drinks, such as $3 Jameson shots and $3 beers all day. Whether you're looking for a few brews or tasty cocktails, the ScapeGoat offers wallet-friendly alcoholic beverages no matter what time you visit.
Sling Bar2445 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
When James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz visited Singapore, he fell for the country's hawker stalls and night markets. His experience is the inspiration for Sling Bar, an Asian-inspired lounge that offers "culinary cocktails" — Singaporean-style libations meant to be strong and filling. The curry colada replaces pineapple with passionfruit mixed with Havana Club rum, Velvet falernum, curry syrup, coconut crème, and lime ($17); the floral SB Sling combines Bombay East gin, Benedictine, PF orange curaçao, pineapple, lime, and cherry cordial ($16). Of course, Schwartz has created a food menu to pair with the drinks; the fare employs Southeast Asian spices such as chili, ginger, and basil.
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Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Company237-B 20th St., Miami Beach
World-class bartender John Lermayer was a cofounder of this bar that reminds guests to "pursue happiness" with the phrase spelled out in pink neon. Here, expect well-made drinks and solid bar food in a relaxed setting. Cocktails ($12 to $13) include the She Said Yes, made with gin, lemon, and raspberry, and the Basic Bitch, containing Absolut Elyx vodka, St-Germain elderflower liqueur, prosecco, strawberry, and lemon. James Beard-winning chef Michelle Bernstein created the food menu, which includes tater tots drizzled with Japanese mayonnaise, vegetable falafel poppers, beet-juice-pickled deviled eggs, and fried chicken with honey and hot sauce. Since opening in 2015, the bar has gained recognition from Tales of the Cocktail's Spirited Awards as Best American High-Volume Cocktail Bar (a bar with a seating capacity of at least 100) and was the only Florida bar to make Playboy's 2016 roundup of the best bars in America.
Swizzle Rum Bar & Drinkery1120 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
The management team behind the much-missed Employees Only Miami is behind this intimate bar that pays homage to the beloved spirit of the Caribbean: rum. The bar offers about 150 varieties of rum, meant to be sipped or featured in cocktails. Swizzle offers classics such as a rum Manhattan and creative cocktails like the El Presidente, made with rum, pomegranate, molasses, and Angostura bitters. A small kitchen serves bar fare such as chicken wings and Cuban sandwiches.