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A landmark dive bar with an early-morning happy hour
Mac’s Club Deuce is the undisputed champion of Miami dive bars. While its namesake owner passed away recently at the age of 101, the bar lives on as a testament to everyone in South Beach who enjoys 2-for-1 drinks at 6 in the morning. It’s the odd Miami landmark that hasn’t been torn down or renovated, and if you can see through the smoke at the horseshoe bar, you’ll find some of Miami’s greatest characters sitting inside.
Miami’s best cocktail bar where the drinks are in a constant flux
This swanky speakeasy in the back of the Gale hotel is pretty much the go-to when any out-of-towner wants great cocktails. The throwback décor and dressed-up bartenders make this spot a charming throwback to the art-deco era, and the daily rotation of creative drinks ensures no trip here will ever be exactly the same.
The backyard of a hostel slinging top-notch cocktails
It is, without question, the single-greatest youth hostel bar in history. Where instead of pasty, creepy dudes with backpacks, you'll find an herb garden full of ingredients for the craft cocktails made inside. Oversized chairs dot the massive, shady courtyard full of banyan trees and ferns. And on the odd cool night, there’s no better place to relax outdoors with a tasty cocktail.
Coconut Grove’s waterfront, happy hour stalwart
Believe it or not, there are a handful of people in Miami who have these crazy things called “9-to-5 jobs they can actually explain.” And on Friday nights, pretty much all of them end up at this waterside raw bar in Coconut Grove. Add in a hefty number of UM kids who might still be in the Grove from the night before and kicking off your weekend here is a true way to experience what life is really like for Miami locals.
Sports, food, and nightlife with craft cocktails on tap
Nobody’s mistaking Miami for anything close to a “sports town,” or even a “town that realizes it has a hockey team.” But if you live in Downtown or Brickell and long for a communal game-watching experience, Batch is the place to go. Many of the tables have cocktails and beer on tap AT THE ACTUAL TABLE WHERE YOU SIT... so there’s not need to get up from the big, comfy booths or even wait for a server.
An Asian garden in the sky
We highly suggest you check out this Asian tropical oasis on the roof of the East Hotel on, like, a Tuesday at 4:30pm. While the drinks, views, and creative food here make this the best new addition to Brickell nightlife in 2016, the line to get in on Friday afternoon is brutal. And NO self-respecting Miamian waits in line for anything that doesn’t involve a TSA patdown.
Drink in the middle of the Miami skyline
Drink in a bathtub on a Downtown rooftop? How could you possibly say no? Just be careful not to take that phrase too literally. This relatively new rooftop bar at the Langford Hotel Downtown might make you feel like you’re drinking right in the middle of the Miami skyline. But the aforementioned bathtub is actually the “glass” for their trademark Giggle Water drink, a lavender-flavored vodka number that’s a little like downing a delicious bubble bath (the experience… not the actual taste).
A wine bar with an incredible menu created to pair
Led by a wine-pairing savant who can literally find the perfect compliment to an Arby’s melt, this tiny Miracle Mile wine bar has a menu created completely backwards, starting with wine and finding food that pairs with it. It reigns supreme as the best wine bar in the city, and the down-home, friendly staff allows you to appreciate fine wine without feeling intimidated.
The best place to drink while the sun goes down
For a city built completely on an island, Miami Beach has a surprising lack of waterfront bars. And this will all make sense when everything water-front is water-submerged in a few years. But for now, Monty’s is the Beach’s quintessential place to drink by the bay, where the big swimming pool and chickee huts provide a relaxing setting to watch the sunset over the Miami skyline.
Live music and craft cocktails in a distinctly urban setting
If you’re the kind of person who likes saying stuff like “This feels just like New York,” and you mean it in a good way, you’re probably a big fan of Blackbird Ordinary. This dimly lit Brickell bar has an effortlessly cool divey feel on the inside, full of creative cocktails and the occasional live band. Out back, the well-lit courtyard finds you drinking in the shadow of skyscrapers -- for an authentically-NYC feel with about 15x the square footage.
Art and vintage chairs in which to enjoy craft cocktails
This spot is tucked away on the ground floor of an apartment building, sandwiched between a pizza place and the front lobby. But once inside you’ll find an expertly-crafted cocktail menu served out amongst kitchy, vintage furniture. The high ceilings allow for large, thought-provoking murals on the wall, making this one of the more visually stimulating places to drink in a seemingly urbane area.
A throwback to the '30s with a heavy Cuban flair
Miami is about as big on history as we are on ice scrapers, but the legends that have played at this bar are as much a part of the draw as the pastelito daiquiris. Names like Count Basie and Tommy Dorsey played after-hours shows nearly 80 years ago, and the new owners have restored the place to look much like it did during its heyday. They’ve even kept the original Dade County Pine ceiling supports, and added a big bandshell out back shaped like a pineapple.
North Miami Beach
A waterfront sports bar with lively DJs and a swimming pool
Here we have a sports bar with boat tie ups, a pool, and the occasional live DJ. The only way this could be any more “Miami” is if local politicians were somehow using it to launder money. This waterfront sports palace might be part of a big regional chain, but it’s become emblematically 305, and with 2-for-1 drinks all day every day, is the North Dade go-to for any big game.
As close to the '90s as you’re getting without having to give up your cell phone
A good night at The Anderson feels a lot like being at your high school homecoming dance. The décor and cocktails here are all about Gen-X nostalgia, with drink names like “Trapper Keeper” and “Too Old for this S**t,” old '80s and '90s movie posters on the wall, and a soundtrack that’s long on Biggie and the Spice Girls. But even those born after 1990 (and before 1997!) can enjoy this place... they just may need some of the references explained.
Live band karaoke, arcade games, and beer pong at your table
Here in Miami -- and especially in South Beach -- a lot of us get so caught up in showing the world we're having their idea of "fun" that we forget to have any fun ourselves. So do yourself a favor and head to this spot from the people who brought you Bodega. Inside you'll find an arcade with motorcycles, a Terminator game (obviously), and other childhood classics. You'll also discover post-childhood classics like the beer pong table in the back and the mini-beer pong tables you can literally pick up and take to your table. It's also got carnival-style food on the menu like spun sugar, popcorn, and Nashville hot chicken cones. Plus live-band karaoke every Monday night, with performances you wouldn't believe come from amateurs.
A hidden, upstairs speakeasy marked by a single stoplight
If you really want to hide a bar in Miami, use a sign everyone ignores. Like a traffic signal. This is the logic behind this hard-to-spot upstairs drinking den above Lutum. Only open on the weekends past 10pm, the hidden cocktail lounge is findable only by a traffic signal mounted on the side of the building. Open the door below and head upstairs to a busy, boisterous spot where bartenders mix up drinks based on what you’re in the mood for, then sip your drink while looking down onto the street, shooting pool, or relaxing on the couch.
An award-winning cocktail bar that’s a go-to for happy hour
Forget the accolades this place has won (the Tales of the Cocktail Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar, Playboy’s Best Bars in America, and, most importantly this list) -- Sweet Liberty gives South Beach something it so desperately needed: a cool bar not hell-bent on gouging tourists that’s also not a dive. Here you’ll find Beach locals enjoying fine beverages like the Que Pina with gin, chartreuse, pineapple, and sage. Or the Velvet Sideswipe with mezcal, Ancho Reyes, pineapple, pepper, and lemon. But more often you’ll find them here for the Beach’s best happy hour, where 75-cent oysters are accompanied by $5 cocktails from 4pm-7pm.
Art, cocktails, and punch bowls from a South Beach nightlife legend
Chris Paciello is quietly making his name in South Beach once again. Following his success at Rockwell, he’s teamed up with Mio Danilovic to open this place, a sexy speakeasy with Wynwood-like murals on the wall and big leather couches on the floor. The drinks are a creative blend of classics and cool creations -- think Cucumber Mint Collins or a rum smash made with muddled passionfruit. There’s also drinks of the big, sharable variety that are a nice tourist alternative to the sugar-packed ones on Ocean Drive. And the menu ranges from traditional wings to tuna tataki and a miso sea bass lettuce cup.
Eighties nostalgia meets 21st century nightlife at the ultimate Miami sports bar
Only in Miami does a sports bar have bottle service. That’s Black Market, a downtown spot with 30 flat screens and a host of VIP tables. You might call it the city’s first Sports Ultralounge, in the sense that if you tune out the play-by you’ll feel like you probably need better shoes to fit in. But look a little closer and you’ll see walls filled with 1980s' Miami nostalgia, celebrating the heyday of UM football and the last time the Dolphins were relevant. In between classic cocktails, check out the Orange Bowl memorabilia and learn what the city was like when it was still a rough little corner of America. Part history-lesson, part club, it’s without a doubt the most Miami place to watch South Florida sports.
Drink in Gianni Versace’s kitchen
Getting inside the Versace Mansion isn’t easy. Sure, you could book a night there or have dinner at Gianni’s. Or you could pay your rent. Or you can simply go for a cocktail and bites at Onyx Bar, the artfully adorned bar inside Casa Casuarina that once upon a time served as Gianni Versace’s kitchen. The six-seater with accompanying couch is known for its martinis adorned with flecks of gold, but you’re welcome to saunter up and order something simpler. It still won’t be cheap, but if you pair it with burrata, tuna tartare, or Spanish octopus, the bill won’t bankrupt you either, making for a highly-impressive date at one of Miami’s most iconic locales.