While I firmly believe that drinking with your dog in your living room counts as a social activity, society tells us we should do it with other people... usually in places like bars. So if you’re going to leave your apartment anyway, you might as well go to a place that -- like your apartment -- also has a bed you can walk to directly from the lounge. And because all hotel bars are not created equal, we've broken down what you need to know before checking in -- and checking out.
The Shelborne Wyndham Grand
When to go: “Prescription Hour,” weekdays from 5-7 pm, when drinks are $10 and appetizers are 50% off
What you need to know: In Miami, going to South Beach for a “prescription” is usually a poor life choice, unless you’re at this Albert Trummer bar. Choose a “house medicine” from their rolling cocktail cart, or belly up to the lobby bar and get a Stress Reliever, Pain Killer, or Aphrodisiac -- all are made with special elixirs and Japanese botanicals, and come with a handwritten prescription from the “pharmacist”... aka your bartender.
When to go: It’s packed Saturday nights if you're into people watching, but has happy hour every weekday from 5-7pm.
What you need to know: While going to drink at a hostel in Miami might sound like the start of a horror film, this one’s bar made it a James Beard Award semi-finalist. The place also has a pool, attracts in-the-know locals, and uses herbs from its own garden to create new menus of craft cocktails every week... aka it’s totally worth the risk.
W South Beach
When to go: Friday and Saturday nights -- it’s open 'til 2am.
What you need to know: Also one of our favorite bars to make out in, this is one of Miami’s sexiest hangouts. Made to look like an apothecary you'll want to do sex in, its $16 cocktails are divided into categories like “Infundo” (infused) and “Laboratorium” (molecular mixology). Sidenote: do not do the sex in here. They will kick you out.
When to go: Go on Fridays 5pm-10pm for “Cocktail Conjuring Fridays.” It's $6-$8 drinks, $5 bites, and magic tricks by the guy they call “the Cocktail Conjuror."
What you need to know: Packed with shameless plugs and all things “wunderful,” this rum-based lobby bar offers weekly yoga in a hidden “WunderGarden” courtyard, makes “WunderDrinks” like mixologist Leo Holtzman’s signature Brazilian Lemonade, and comes with -- now listen closely -- an entire wall of rum.
Delano South Beach
When to go: Well we put it on our list of best makeout spots in Miami, so...
What you need to know: Aside from being in one of Miami’s most iconic hotels, this intimate South Beach bar was designed by Ian Schrager (so it’s beautiful), serves $20 cocktails (so it’s fancy), and has lots of rich old men with women who are either their daughters or women their daughters went to school with.
The Gale Hotel
When to go: After 10pm, Monday-Thursday, for live music and sexy people-watching
What you need to know: We named this spot both the best place for a first date and one of the most important bars in Miami for a reason. Led by world-famous bartender Julio Cabrera (he was on the cover of GQ… ), it’s straight out of the 1940s, has dim lighting, serves classic cocktails like The Regent Old Fashioned, and also has a rotating menu of daily rum drinks that are sometimes lit on fire.
When to go: Always. But they might only let you in when they’re open, from 12pm-Midnight (Sunday-Thursday) and 12pm-1am (Friday-Saturday).
What you need to know: This is where you go when you want to leave Miami without actually leaving. Grab a couch by the serenity pond, down a house-infused liquor cocktail, soak in the zen vibes, and then proceed to make out with whoever is lucky enough to be sitting next to you. But you know, ask them first.
Loews Miami Beach Hotel
When to go: From Thursdays to Sundays
What you need to know: Led by award-winning mixologist Rob Ferrara and sitting on the terrace of the Loews' St. Moritz Tower, this tropical outdoor bar looks like it would be a better fit in the Keys -- which is probably why everyone keeps going there. As the name implies, it serves all things rum: from classics like mojitos and caipirinhas, to Zombie No. 305’s and $50 Trader Vic 1968 Scorpion Bowls made with Remy 1738, Bacardi Superior, and Orgeat.
The National Hotel
When to go: During happy hour, when you’ll get free appetizers from 5-7pm everyday.
What you need to know: An art deco staple, this throwback lounge has jazz fans ordering “1939 National Hemingways” and croquetas (really, Miami?) from the same bar that's been there since the hotel’s 1940 opening.
1 Hotel South Beach
When to go: When you wake up
What you need to know: While its name makes it really hard to find (it’s on the roof of that 1 Hotel), this secluded bar is your own personal staycation. Come for the 360-degree views, and stay for the sexy white couches, the adults-only crowd, the organic wine list, and 7am Patrón. (Seriously. It opens at sunrise.)
Thompson Miami Beach
When to go: Anytime except Monday and Tuesday, but only because they’re closed and won’t let you in
What you need to know: Also bearing a super discreet name, this bar is an apartment that was built in the 1980s. Just kidding. Go on the weekends for live music and people-watching, and do as the pretty people do: drink Anejo old fashioneds around the pool and head inside for chorizo and chocolate tapas from Chef Michelle Bernstein’s Sra Martinez.
1. Drawing Room Bar & Lounge1801 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
2. Broken Shaker2727 Indian Creek Dr, Miami
3. Living Room2201 Collins Ave, Miami Beach
4. Wunder Bar3900 Collins Ave, Miami
5. Delano South Beach1685 Collins Ave, Miami Beach
6. Regent Cocktail Club1690 Collins Ave, Miami Beach
7. The Grill At The Setai2001 Collins Ave, Miami Beach
8. The Rum Line1601 Collins Ave, Miami
9. The Blues Bar 1939The National Hotel, Miami Beach
10. The 1 Rooftop2341 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
11. 1930s House4041 Collins Ave, Miami Beach
You can head to the back of the lobby at the Shelborne to visit Albert Trummer's medicinally-infused herbal cocktail bar. Enjoy his mad scientist’s mix of drinks, like the Aztec Medicine (muddled pineapple, cilantro, habanero bitters, and Santa Teresa rum) and food from Morimoto.
In the backyard of the Freehand on South Beach, tucked off to the side, there’s a small alcove overflowing with cocktail-consuming hopefuls, waiting patiently to procure a poolside sipper. The Broken Shaker’s locale on the Freehand’s property is beneficial, not just because the grounds serve as a lounge for the tiny bar front’s patrons, but also because the bar menu taps into the property’s garden for ingredients, resulting in creative, substantive cocktails that also happen to be best when drunk by the pool, in the pool, on a hammock, or anywhere else in the hostel’s art deco backyard. Broken Shaker has since spread its craft cocktail success cross country, with locations in both Chicago and Los Angeles.
Nestled in the lobby of the W Hotel on South Beach, Living Room boasts a bar stacked with ingredients like fruits, herbs, & edible flowers, and an apothecary's workshelf-looking back bar, all producing flavor combos so fresh, their grandmothers don't give them Hanukkah gifts anymore.
With an entire wall of rum and "Cocktail Conjouring Fridays" (drink are between $6-$8 from 5pm-10pm), WunderBar loves to remind us all how wunderful it really is.
If next-level luxury is what you crave, The Delano's got you covered. Check-in for ocean-facing views, spa amenities, beach club access, and rooms featuring rainfall showers and iPads (actually) for you to play with.
Regent Cocktail Club is a club, but not the kind you’re thinking, despite its South Beach locale. The Cocktail Club, inside the sophisticated Gale South Beach Hotel, is the kind of club you’d find in New York City circa 1940, with the sound of live jazz, the scent of cigars, the taste of Sazeracs and Sidecars, and a seat next to Frank Sinatra himself. It’s decorated like a retro speakeasy, which is reflected by the classic cocktail menu, each one anchored by the traditional recipes of the time. Maybe Frank Sinatra won’t be here, but everything else remains the same: during your evening at Regent, you can expect to be serenaded by live music as you sip your Old Fashioneds, stepping outside every so often for breath of fresh… cigar air on the patio (it’s the 21st century, nobody smokes inside anymore).
From a French-trained foodsmith with a James Beard award and a two-Michelin-star rating who's been helming the Setai's pan-Asian main restaurant for over two years, The Grill's a return to grub inspired by his beloved Southern Europe, and feels like a back room nobody knows about; it's got high latticed ceilings up front and a shadowy rear area, all done in earthy wood, stone, and leather, with a massive mother of pearl communal table, and a food bar lined with ham hocks -- a dream for you, a nightmare for Kermit.
If Ernest Hemingway were alive today and visited Miami, he’d ALSO be offended by a $20 vodka soda. So his go-to spot would probably be this outdoor tropical bar at the Loews St. Moritz Tower, where Robert Ferrara and the Lure Fishbar folks are making all kinds of rum-centric stuff like the Hemingway Daiquiri, the Donkey Kong, the Green Eyed Bandit, and the Cargo Ship -- made with Panther Coffee.
This art deco Miami staple has been serving "National Hemingways" in the same bar since it first opened in 1940. Get there for happy hour for free appetizers.
The rooftop at The 1 Hotel South Beach opens at sunrise so get there as early as your heart desires. The adults-only, and sleek all-white couch set up will make you swoon, and so will the organic wine life and hand-crafted cocktail menu.
While a Hialeah Sling might sound like a nifty driving move to avoid the traffic on the Palmetto, it’s actually one of the new Miami neighborhood-themed drinks at this bar set in a house from... waitforit!... the 1930s that once stood across the street from the Thompson. They’ve now moved it poolside, where you can get one of those Hialeah Slings and food off the menu from the long-missed Sra. Martinez.