Miami party-goers are more used to the watered down cosmopolitans and VIP bottle service than they are handcrafted cocktails made with elixirs and hard-to-find liqueurs. Cocktail culture in Miami hasn’t quite caught on like it has in food-centric cities like New Orleans and Philadelphia, though that’s been changing, with new cocktail bars cropping up across South Florida. And in Miami Beach, hotels have open watering holes helmed by mixologists and cocktail connoisseurs that are transforming Miami cocktail culture into something worthy of accolades, and just because you live here doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them.
Miami Beach’s best hotel bars strike a balance of Miami regency with a Prohibition-era speakeasy vibe — it may not be easy to find, but the discovery is something like uncovering a wrinkle in time. Some boast old world elegance, others mid-century mystique, or bohemian cool, but you can count on finding unpredictable aromas, bitters, and shrubs across the board.
The Social Club at the Surfcomber
Golden orbs and shades of emerald accent the mosaic tile bar at The Social Club, where resident mixologist Luis Ponce serves some of the most interesting and nuanced cocktails in the 305. Cocktails are re-imagined seasonally, but there are a few staples that remain on the menu year-round as an ode to Miami’s rum culture. Our favorite summer sip is the Venus in Furs, featuring Lavender infused limoncello, domaine de canton, yellow chartreuse, vanilla bean lillet blanc, Boston bitters, and bitter lemon tonic. And while cocktails are the main event here, you definitely won’t go hungry with The Social Club’s Cuban-inspired tapas and shareable plates.
Repour Bar at the Albion Hotel
Helmed by Colorado native and former Haven mixologist Isaac Grillo, Repour Bar is without a doubt the yet-to-be-discovered up and comer. Grillo’s Repour is meant to be a rustic respite from the otherwise raucous streets of South Beach. More like dimly lit family room than happening VIP lounge, Grillo even serves drinks in his mother’s china. Grillo’s even been known to use Colorado River rocks in some drinks. With artful presentations, herbs picked fresh from the outdoor garden, and ingenious methods for keeping drinks cool in the Miami heat, picking your poison at Repour is no easy task. We might suggest you go with the Bitter Angel and savor your bourbon poured over a bitter chocolate ice ball.
The Regent Cocktail Club at The Gale Hotel
Miami’s own Julio Cabrera has been mixing cocktails in Miami since 2006, and the world is starting to pay attention. He’s graced the cover of GQ for his masterful skills with a shaker, and many local bartenders look to Cabrera as a pioneer of Miami’s cocktail scene. Today, Cabrera serves his handcrafted imbibes at The Regent Cocktail Club, a 1940s-style haven of tufted leather and classic cocktails. Bartenders serve drinks wearing crisp whites and strappy suspenders, and live jazz wafts through the air for a break from your mid-week heyday. And don’t worry about sticking to the menu – these guys can make just about anything you want.
The Broken Shaker at the Freehand Hostel
We can’t really talk about Miami cocktail culture without mentioning The Broken Shaker, the bohemian bar that’s been revolutionizing the scene since it popped up at the Indian Creek Hotel in late 2011. It boasts some serious street cred — The Shaker recently made Drinks International’s list of the 50 Best Bars in the world for the second consecutive year. While the hotel flag has changed hands (today it’s the Freehand Hostel), the vibe hasn’t. It remains a lush oasis of tropical plants adorned with mismatched shabby chic chairs and market lights strung by the Italian brick-laden pool. The Broken Shaker somehow manages to remain as unpretentious as it is impossibly cool. In true tiki fashion, their cocktails tend to be on the fruitier side, but that doesn’t make them any less exotic. Opt for the Take Me to the Moon, with Ritterhouse rye, pink guava, and mint cordial, and get ready to see some stars.
The Drawing Room at The Shelborne
Albert Trummer doesn’t fashion himself a mixologist. Rather, he’s an apothecary, crafting cocktails that are more like chemistry experiments than drinks. He’s not just helping you take the edge off, either. He’s designed a menu of libations that are carefully arranged according to what you need them to do. Pharmaceuticals, Aphrodisiacs, Pain Killers, Stimulants, and Stress Relievers round out his list of tricks. Whatever your mood, Trummer’s got the fix – but we especially love The Drawing Room’s Saffron Sazerac, a twist on the classic made with Spanish saffron, bourbon, house bitters, and a flamed absinthe rinse.
What are some of your favorite places for classic cocktails?