Miami's Best New Bars of 2016 (So Far)
The entrepreneurial bar owners of South Florida had some serious foresight. They somehow knew this summer was going to be so blistering hot that we’d need more than one or two new places to get a cold beer and colder A/C: we’d need all kinds of them. Be that a rooftop cocktail den, a Bird Rd brewery, or a beer garden on the Intracoastal. No matter what kind of atmosphere you want to help you escape the blistering rays of that wretched sun, somebody has opened a bar this year that’ll help you do it. And the following are the best ones that opened in the first half of 2016.
You know what sounds great after a long day of speculative conversation about Brickell condos? Cold beer and foie gras croquettes. Or at least that's what the guys behind Brickell’s newest spot are banking on, with a menu of eats crafted by Chef Michael Beltran (of Ariete) that you won't typically find in the bar scene. The team from Sidebar is pairing that inventive menu with a rotating board of house-made punches, and in-house cocktails like the Jane and Juice: Bombay Sapphire gin, cucumber bitters, lime juice, St.-Germain, and egg white. All served in a dark, mysterious corner spot tucked right before the Brickell Ave Bridge.
Unlike so many people who live north of the county line, the guys who’ve been running Broward’s best brunch party for the last half-decade are actually daring to venture into the unknown that is Miami. And what a debut it’s been. The Gables’ newest hotspot does the Lauderdale original one better, taking the traditional lineup of 42 draft beers and putting it in an even larger space, with bottomless brunches on Saturday AND Sunday, along with a $3-off happy hour every weekday. And they’re not done in Dade. Come fall, a new midtown location will open up in the space formerly occupied by Apeiro.
Remember that crazy piano bar on 79th St you randomly ended up at a couple years ago, where the piano players made fun of you as soon as you walked in? Well it’s The Anderson now. A creation of the Bar Lab team that's stocked with inventive cocktails and a menu curated by Vagabond’s Alex Chang. The place is done up in '80s nostalgia, from vintage cigarette ads on the wall to drinks with names like “Trapper Keeper” and “Too Old for this Sh*t.” Out back it’s got an urban beach set up with picnic tables on sand leading out to “the shack,” a little beach bungalow that serves up a smaller menu.
With a name that’s clearly an homage to Eazy-E and Dr. Dre’s failed attempt at building a retro baseball park, celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn has brought South Beach its first legitimate beer garden. Out behind the Hall Hotel on Washington Ave, you can sip on an impressive selection of local craft beers while munching on the “big ass pretzel” or one of their many specialty hot dogs topped with everything from fried eggs to mango. If drinking isn’t entertainment enough, the bar’s got ping-pong, cornhole, and even oversized Connect Four. And also a weekly beer pong league, where your entrance fee also includes one free pitcher.
The three-year traffic nightmare that’s been Brickell City Centre construction is almost over, and our first taste of the expected payoff opened this May with Brickell’s first true rooftop bar. The views are unparalleled from 40 stories up, with a clear line of sight to Miami Beach and Key Biscayne. Sugar is adorned to feel like an Asian garden, with tables neatly hidden under tropical foliage. The food and drinks have a far-east feel too, with things like the Sesame Sling -- a gin drink that feels like the alcoholic version of a sushi roll. And you’ll need it to cool your tongue after trying the Korean spicy boneless chicken wings, all the fun of twice-fried chicken without the pesky bones.
Drinking in the bathtub is a time-honored tradition shared by everyone from stressed-out moms to strung-out rockstars. Drinking FROM a bathtub? Usually reserved for St. Bernards. Unless that bathtub is holding Giggle Water, a lavender infused cocktail served in a mini bathtub at downtown’s first rooftop bar. This swanky spot at the top of the Langford Hotel has a whole slew of other creative drinks, which you’ll need to cool off if you decide to have an after-work beverage on their outdoor patio with a 360-degree view of the city.
The '80s and '90s nostalgia is strong in 2016’s crop of new bars. That becomes painfully evident the minute you walk into this new SoFi drinking den and are greeted by a giant neon cocktail sign -- a tribute to the 1988 Tom Cruise classic Cocktail. The names on the drink menu shout out to more late 20th-century pop culture, with cocktails named Swedish Chef, Salute Your Shorts, and NWA (Negroni with Attitude). It’s a club in the sense you’ll find a dance floor and a live DJ, but the tables are more for sipping drinks than ordering bottles. And on weekend nights, the scene here is every bit as beautiful as you’ll find in places with $50 covers.
Do you know The Diplomat, that giant teal-and-glass building along Hollywood Beach? It’s getting a major facelift, and the first big change is this new bar at Diplomat Landing. The waterside beer garden has a funky outdoor vibe complete with an old VW bus and lounge chairs along the intracoastal. The menu is designed to try a little of a lot, offering 7oz pours of wine and beer along with pizzas, cheese boards, and salads. All of it is food light enough for hot weather, but savory enough that you’ll want to take advantage of the impressive drink menu.
In the past, a bar that’s only signage was a flickering red neon light that read “Bar” would be the kind of place you’d find guys whose idea of breakfast was an egg white cocktail. But in retro-crazy 2016, a sign like that probably means the bar is a dark-wooded drinkery with craft cocktails, an expansive garden, and plush leather furniture. Such is the case with 1306, the new 5am bar that’s got a menu crafted by a Broken Shaker alum and keeps the drinking classy and comfortable. Once the weather gets cool, patrons can even head out back to the bar’s impressive garden space -- which is currently available to rent for private events.
This burgeoning gallery and boutique space just got its very own brewery and taproom, for all those who love craft beer, but not traffic, in Wynwood. The guys who once offered to buy AB InBev for $26,000 just got their feet off the ground as brewers, and are serving up small quantities of their own stuff on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays until production ramps up. But you can still grab pints of an assortment of beers if you want to go and drink now.
In the city that has the highest rate of people under 35 living with their parents, the most logical business to open is a caviar bar, right? Right. Because if living with your parents doesn’t let you live like a billionaire on the weekends, then what’s even the point? So go ahead, mom-dwellers, and hit this over-the-top spot at the Four Seasons that boasts 10 different caviars and 20 different champagnes, all served under glass bubbles on Calacatta marble tables, and gold Bernardaud plates.
If there’s one thing that was holding Miami back, it was our serious shortage of fancy waterfront bars for the super-rich. So our brave civic leaders took action, and leased this prime piece of public waterfront land to a developer who’s given the city what we so desperately needed. This new spot by the Miami Children’s Museum has stunning views of Biscayne Bay the the Downtown skyline, which can be enjoyed from any number of private tables as you listen to house music and sip rose.
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