A few weeks ago we were in Orlando for a 3-day wine and spirits tasting at the WSWA Convention and decided that while in Florida we would take our time and visit some other cool Florida locations. When we told our friends and industry colleagues we were going to Miami, everyone immediately told us to go to world-renowned Broken Shaker. So obviously we ignored all of them because we had limited time and instead hunted down the “under the radar” spots and those that are newer to the Miami scene.
Aside from asking our friends about where to go we also checked out a few local digital resources like the Visit Florida Guide to Florida Bars and Eater Miami for recent articles about bars and restaurants. After a bit of research we locked in the venues we really wanted to visit and started drinking. We didn’t have one bad drink in Miami, there was a little bit of wine but being us, of course, there were mostly a lot of cocktails and the bars below are not in order of popularity but instead this list is in the order in which we visited them. So without further a due, here are our favorite cocktail bars in Miami.
We wanted to splurge on a special night in South Beach so we looked up luxury beachfront hotels and The W was right up on the top of the list and with The Dutch Restaurant and The Livingroom Bar we just had to stay here. It was perfect; we checked in and didn’t leave until the following morning with everything we needed at our fingertips within the hotel. While talking with the amazing bar staff and concierge they suggested a couple of tasty cocktails and they were all so delicious we couldn’t pick a favorite.
This venue has one of the best happy hours I have ever seen, with half-price cocktails and substantially discounted menu items we know that if we lived in Miami this would be our local. We actually just came here for dinner but were happily surprised with the tasty cocktails like a Barrel Aged Sake Old Fashioned and a great Hemmingway Daiquiri, which worked great with the Asian fusion menu. The artwork on the walls at Drunken Dragon was amazing with a lot of amazing Japanese bondage photography and the reclaimed Douglas fir bar is beautiful.
Our friend Jessie from Thirsty in NYC told us about Bodega and although the entrance is questionable this venue turned out to have a small and creative cocktail list. To get into Bodega you have to first find the Mexican food being served out of an airstream, and in the corner, you will see a porta potty door. Yes, this is the entrance and don’t worry it smells a lot better than your usual porta potty. We got in early before the party really kicked off and enjoyed a few spirit-forward cocktails while watching the venue fill up around us.
We decided to walk back over to Collins Ave and on the way made a stop at the new Employees Only who opened their doors around 2 months ago. We haven’t visited the original in NYC but I am sure if this venue is anything to go by then we certainly will next time we are in town. The cocktail list has so many great flavor combinations and really creative concoctions both from their original list as well as fresh creations from the Miami staff and twists on classics.
We weren’t quite done for the evening but didn’t want to run all over town chasing cocktails so we decided to work our way back to the hotel and find something along the way. Just as we were nearing our hotel and giving up we came across a great little gem located in the Quality Meats restaurant, another venue with origins in NYC. Here the bartender ran us through his awesome list and we settled on the Rubik’s Cube cocktail, which was delicious but also really photogenic with 4 different flavored ice cubes representing the colors of the tricky toy we have all tried and usually failed.
We had to pick one of the venues from the Eater Miami and Bar Nancy ticked all the boxes for a cocktail bar we wanted to check out. The awesome nautical theme runs right through from the decoration to the cocktails and they really have fun with unique ingredients. There is a great concentration on pungent cocktails and bold flavors but if you are looking for something delicate I’m sure there’s something for you too.
On our final evening in South Beach we wanted to eat some great seafood so we found ourselves at A Fish Called Avalon and to kick off the evening we ordered a few cocktails like their Lavender Margarita (YUM!) and of course, I had to try the Barrel Aged Manhattan. They have 30, 60 and 90 day aged Manhattans and they are perfect, but the best part is that they also bottle their aged expressions so you can take one home as a memento or to just enjoy when you get back to your hotel.
Given more time I’m sure this list would be huge as every time we sat down at a bar in Miami, whether it be a hotel, restaurant or dedicated cocktail bar we had a great experience with quality cocktails. The 90’s style cocktails and venues are certainly not gone but thankfully there are enough bars and bartenders bringing some class and elegance to the area. We know there’s plenty more awesome bars we missed so let us know your favorite and we will add it to our list for next time and be sure to follow our adventures as we travel the world on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.