When Wynwood Diner (2601 NW Second Ave., Miami) opened three months ago, Vanessa Hulsey was hired to offer a bar program that could speak for itself. The 33-year-old cocktail creator, a Broken Shaker and 27 alum, was brought on from the get-go to curate the drink list, run the bar, and train the staff. She's adamant about making the infusions and syrups in-house whenever possible and says she customized the libations to complement the cuisine. For instance, Belgian waffles with whipped cream and berries (served all day) are made all the more decadent when enjoyed with one of Wynwood Diner's newly introduced boozy shakes.
Take, for instance, the Anchor, a blend of Sailor Jerry rum combined with pineapple, house-made banana purée, and whipped cream. Even though the alcohol content is less than standard, you taste the rum, sure. But mostly, you just think you're drinking the most delicious dessert there ever was.
When you're ready for a more adult beverage, try Hulsey's favorite, the Rebel Rouser. The Indiana native smokes pineapple and makes a reduction from it. She mixes it with Corralejo Reposado tequila and mezcal and then dusts the rim of the glass with a house-made spicy salt. The bold libation packs plenty of heat but goes down astoundingly smoothly.
Pineapple reappears in the West Side Swizzle, comprising pineapple-pepper-infused pisco, the bittersweet Italian liquor Averna Amaro, and ginger, lime, and pineapple. What's most remarkable about Hulsey's cocktails is that despite their complexity, they're very approachable and easy to drink.
Because every libation is made to order, the craft cocktail list has been pared down to eight items, plus classic mixed drinks and four boozy shakes. What's more, in keeping with the diner's affordable ethos, all beverages are priced at $10.
Past the kitchen and brown leather banquettes near the restaurant's entrance, you'll find the lounge area, replete with couches, a DJ booth, and a massive bar whose size bespeaks its importance. There's a decided speakeasy vibe happening here, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a more glamorous diner. On a recent Friday night, the place was packed with families, young couples, and party people. There's a lot more to Wynwood Diner than all-day breakfast — this is Miami's new "it" spot, and, yes, you can blame it on the booze.