Things To Do

Channel Frank Sinatra at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach

Frank Sinatra enjoying a cocktail in The Poodle Lounge with Bernice and Ben Novack, the original owners of Fontainebleau.
Frank Sinatra enjoying a cocktail in The Poodle Lounge with Bernice and Ben Novack, the original owners of Fontainebleau. The Estate of Bernice and Ben Novack

If Frank Sinatra were alive today, he might call Miami Beach home. And he'd definitely be at the Fontainebleau.

Beginning in the 1950s, for nearly two decades, Sinatra visited Miami Beach frequently for work and play. The Fontainebleau opened one year after Sinatra signed with Capitol Records. Built by Ben Novack and designed by Morris Lapidus, the Fontainebleau ushered in an era of extravagantly designed hotels being built on the shore of Miami Beach. The grandeur and opulence of the resort resonated with Sinatra.

"Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack — Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, and Sammy Davis Jr. — were regular visitors to Miami Beach," says John Riccardo, the director of signature dining at the Fontainebleau. "Although they were known to frequent many places in the area, they could always be found at the lobby bar of Sinatra's favorite."
click to enlarge When Sinatra filmed a movie at Fontainebleau, he would shoot his scenes during the day and play to a packed house at Fontainebleau’s La Ronde Supper Club at night (now LIV Nightclub). - THE ESTATE OF BERNICE AND BEN NOVACK
When Sinatra filmed a movie at Fontainebleau, he would shoot his scenes during the day and play to a packed house at Fontainebleau’s La Ronde Supper Club at night (now LIV Nightclub).
The Estate of Bernice and Ben Novack
The crooner often performed to packed houses at the Fontainebleau's nightclub, La Ronde. He filmed three movies on the property: A Hole in the Head, Tony Rome, and Lady in Cement. Sinatra also performed a duet with Elvis Presley at the hotel in 1960. According to the book Miami Beach Memories, Old Blue Eyes and his pals would be seen around town in $1,000 custom suits surrounded by bodyguards.

Want to re-create a day in the life of Sinatra? With this suggested itinerary, you can wine and dine like the legend.
click to enlarge FONTAINEBLEAU MIAMI BEACH
Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Room service in the Sorrento Tower. According to Ricardo, Sinatra was at the Fontainebleau so often the hotel's original owners, Ben and Bernice Novack, pulled a room out of inventory in the Versailles Tower for his visits. It was unavailable to other guests so the singer/actor always had a place to stay when filming a movie, performing, or vacationing in Miami.


For a similar experience, order room service in the hotel's five-bedroom, 10,000-square-foot Sorrento penthouse suite in the Sorrento Tower. Priced at $6,000 to $7,000 per night, it offers a kitchen with a Sub-Zero fridge, Miele appliances, and a wine cooler. VIP guests also have the option of using a personal chef who can cook a customized meal for a group of people right in the penthouse (not included in the room price).

Sinatra would likely order room service with a bottle of Jack Daniel's and pair it with grilled beef tenderloin medallions ($36).
click to enlarge Bloody marys - FONTAINEBLEAU MIAMI BEACH
Bloody marys
Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Breakfast. It's a concept that seems as if it were invented only to make a stiff 11 a.m. cocktail socially acceptable. But in the mid-'50s, you could wake up with the promise of a hot cup of coffee, a little hair of the dog, a spot of clams casino, and a meet-and-greet with Sinatra.

Sadly, there are no more actual Sinatra sightings, but Vida at the Fontainebleau offers breakfast daily with a variety of signature Bloody Mary's ($10).
click to enlarge Stripsteak - FONTAINEBLEAU MIAMI BEACH
Stripsteak
Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Dinner. Back in the day, celebrities didn't eat kale. To channel Sinatra properly, order a 50-ounce Australian Wagyu tomahawk for $150 at Stripsteak by Michael Mina. Also this month, you can indulge Sinatra-style with the hotel's Sapphire Noir chocolate-and-wine-pairing experience. Every Monday and Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m., Stripsteak guests can taste three wine varietals from different continents, each paired with the Fontainebleau’s exclusive dark chocolate blend, Sapphire Noir. The cost is $25 per person.
click to enlarge The Don Franco cocktail - FONTAINEBLEAU MIAMI BEACH
The Don Franco cocktail
Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Cocktails. A story passed down over the years goes thusly: Sinatra was at the bar with entertainer Jackie Gleason during one of his visits. The two were talking late into the night. "It was a night for a serious whiskey. And that’s when Jackie turned to Frank and asked if he'd ever tried Jack Daniel's. From that night forward — and the next 50 years — the two were often seen sipping together," Riccardo says.

In honor of Sinatra's legacy, the resort has teamed up with Jack Daniel’s to offer the craft cocktail Don Franco at Scarpetta. The drink combines Jack Daniel's, Nonino Amaro, Carpano Antica, and house-made bitters ($25).


Also, Sinatra wouldn't say no to the Cigar Social every Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m., where you'll find a rum-and-cigar pairing on the terrace of Stripsteak. Offering three expressions of Aberfeldy Scotch, the series will educate you about the interaction of Scotch and honey, all paired with a cigar. The cost is $25 per person.

Fontainebleau Miami Beach. 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 877-512-8002; fontainebleau.com.
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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna