This Tea Changes Color Like a Mood Ring
The backyard of the Freehand Hostel doubles as an herb garden (and swimming pool, and bocce ball court, and ping pong hall) that’s harvested in service of drinks like the Florida Back Alley w/ vodka, homemade bitters, local tangerines, rosemary & thyme... AND so they can make their own mixers like the pineapple and papaya vinegar they combine w/ tequila in their Agave Fairy.
Nestled in the lobby of the W Hotel on South Beach, Living Room’s got a bar stacked with ingredients like fruits, herbs, & edible flowers, a drink menu that's divided into categories like Infundo (infused) and Laboratorium (molecular mixology), and innovative concoctions like the Lividus (organic raspberries & fresh Japanese yuzu citrus soaked in lavender-infused gin, sprinkled with lavender), and the Electric Watermelon: fresh watermelon, rosemary honey, peach bitters, and bourbon topped with honeydew caviar, which is essentially honeydew juice that's been gelled into little balls.
The backyard of this Brickell hipster hangout’s got not just the requisite live music stage and occasional dude grilling burgers, but an EDIBLE FREAKING WALL that provides ingredients for stuff like the namesake Blackbird w/ Seagram's Sweet Tea Vodka, fresh blackberries & lemonade, and the Red-Footed Bobby w/ Don Julio Tequila Reposado, Cocchi Americano, fresh strawberries, lime juice & egg white, which to our knowledge does not come from chickens raised in the aforementioned backyard... but who knows?!
Any bar with a head mixologist so inventive he landed the cover of GQ obviously has a... um, photogenic bar staff. But they’ll probably also have a mind-blowing rotating selection of drinks (many of which include fire) served in a dimly-lit space straight out of the '30s.
This boozer serves an array of classic 'tails, and some almost as inventive as those guys in the bathroom at Club Space next door, including a Del Maguey Vida Mezcal/ Lime Achiote/ fennel seed syrup/ orange bitters combo called The Red Devil, the likes of which make it Downtown's Premier (League) cocktail destination.
There’s a reason the bar at this foodie hotspot is always packed between 5-8pm, and it’s not because people like to end the work day with a foie gras-stuffed burger. It's because this ultra-modern cocktail lounge sometimes outshines the food with stuff like the Polynesian Punch, which is made with Afrohead Briland 07 rum, kalamansi, and ginger... or the White Cosmo w/ Boyd & Blair potato vodka, white cranberry, lime, and an orchid-filled ice cube.
A place known as a go-to for soaking up alcohol after a long night isn’t typically the first place you’d think of to put more drinks in your system, but it’d be a shame to neglect the fantastic cocktail menu at Wynwood diner. The spicy stuff like the West Side Swizzle with pineapple pepper-infused pisco, Patron, lime, and pineapple is great at night. But if your hangover brunch calls for a little hair of the dog, the Strawberry Fields with gin, strawberry jam, agave nectar, and mint doesn’t conflict with their with waffles.
Albert Trummer is a mad scientist of mixology. He’s created spirits infused with medicinal herbs and claims you won’t get hungover if you spend a night drinking in this chic living room-like setup at the Shelborne. Beakers and lab coats aside, the cocktails are still some of the best in the Beach, whether they’re healthy or not. Try the Aztec Medicine w/ muddled pineapple & cilantro, habanero bitters & Santa Teresa rum, and see how you feel in the morning.
If drag queen bingo with a side of hot wings isn’t enough to entice you into this Wynwood drinking den, keep in mind all the juices on the constantly rotating cocktail menu are hand-pressed daily. This means when you order a Moscow Mule, the ginger juice is going have a lot more flavor than the ginger beer you’re getting in a can elsewhere. In addition to fun games, Gramps has its very own pizza window full of good-even-when-you’re-sober pies, hot wings, and garlic knots. So if you need a little something to soak up all that fresh-squeezed fruit juice, you don’t even have to leave the premises.
Most discerning Miamians are pretty immune to the hype of big-ballyhooed New York City spots opening in South Florida. But Employees Only might be the exception. This craft cocktail den set in the historic coral house on Washington Ave is done up like a 1950s hotspot with deep woods and dim lights. The drinks could make an argument as the best craft cocktails in all of Miami, with classics like the Fraise Sauvage -- Fords gin shaken with wild strawberries & Tahitian vanilla, topped with Prosecco -- leading the way.
What was once an art-themed neighborhood bar has transformed itself into a hip, craft cocktail lounge and hasn’t looked back. Even if you’re not enamored with the life-sized Jenga, funky vintage furniture, antique stereos, or trippy murals, it’s hard to argue with a drink menu crafted by an all-star team of mixologists with pedigree from Broken Shaker, Regent, and more. Try the simple-yet-mind-blowing Blackberry Sage: gin with muddled blackberries and ginger beer.
A gin and tonic is only about a step away from vodka soda on the list of things as Miami-basic as boat selfies, but this spot tucked away in the AC hotel does the cocktail differently. The menu features six different spins on the classic G+T, all mixed with a custom-made tonic, and expands with non-gin specialities like the Smoked Last Word: smoky mescal, green chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime. And because it’s Miami, on weekends the bar takes the craft cocktail craziness to the pool for a weekly party.
It’s not tough to make it onto a number of “best of” lists when you’re the first outdoor rooftop bar in Downtown Miami. But this place is about so much more than surrounding yourself with the skyline. The prohibition-era drinks each come in custom-crafted glasses, pictured on the calligraphy-filled menus. They’re all worth a try, but the must-have is the Giggle Water, an allusion to Prohibition bathtub gin served in a tiny ceramic bathtub, brimming with lavender foam atop Martin Miller W.S. gin, Champagne syrup, and Fever Tree Indian tonic.
Where better to put a bar than a place that used to make frat party ice luges? Yep, this once-upon-a-time ice factory is now Wynwood’s creative hub for both food and drinks with a bar menu from Ben Potts, formerly of Broken Shaker. While the daily special will never disappoint, the novelty of ordering a Blast Furnace (Basil Hayden’s, Funky Buddha Floridian, apricot preserves) in an old ice factory is both funny and tasty.
If you’re looking for a place with great drinks at a great price, well, only come here for happy hour. Views like Juvia’s don’t come cheap (even a spot in the parking garage is $15) but boy, do they impress. Here, you can sit at a big, stone communal table in front of an ivy wall, gazing out at the South Beach skyline and feeling as theatrically Miami as you ever have. Zarko Stankovic has created a bar menu heavy on fruity, tropical combinations, as well as a custom-made rosé and a barrel-aged Avion tequila made specially for Juvia.