Food & Drink

Miami's Most Beautiful Bars

Published On 11/10/2015 Published On 11/10/2015
COURTESY OF MONDRIAN

Sunset Lounge at the Mondrian

South Beach

There's no shortage of bars to catch the sunset on the west side of Miami Beach. But only one combines that sunset with a swanky poolside party, the all-white opulence of the Mondrian, and expertly designed furniture for you to relax and enjoy the colors over the skyline.

COURTESY OF BALL AND CHAIN

Ball & Chain

Little Havana

If Epcot had a "Cuba World," the bar there would look exactly like Ball & Chain. Except this place is real. An odd historic spot in Miami that hasn't been bulldozed for condos, this Calle Ocho club saw the likes of Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and Louie Armstrong, as the posters from its heyday that now line the walls will attest. Restored and reopened last year, the main room with vaulted Dade County pine ceilings leads to a tropical oasis of a backyard, complete with a bandshell shaped like a pineapple.

COURTESY OF THOMPSON HOTEL

1930s House

Miami Beach

In case you're a little slow on the uptake, this bar in the back of the Thompson Hotel is actually a house that was built in the 1930s. But the house's original location across Collins Ave wouldn't have made for nearly as beautiful a setting as its current one. So, this handcrafted home was actually moved piece by piece across the street and now sits poolside at the Thompson, giving you a little bit of old and new Miami as you sip on your Hialeah Sling at one of the best new bars of 2015.

COURTESY OF BLUME

Blume

Brickell

This new kid on the block is pretty. Like, not as pretty as Jordan, but definitely prettier than Donnie. It takes the design elements of a classic tropical Florida garden room, with palms, ferns, and light wood molding, then combines it with a visual assault of new Miami chic, complete with an LED chandelier, and 50ft concentric rings made to look like... oh right... blooming flowers.

COURTEST OF KATSUYA

Katsuya

South Beach

This lounge upstairs from one of the best sushi joints in Miami could probably make this list just by its brilliant incorporation of the Asian, circular decor in the restaurant. But every month a new local artist is given free reign over the walls, making this bar in a hotel a uniquely local experience. And one that offers a totally different -- but still fascinating and beautiful -- look every time you go.

COURTESY OF ATRIO

Atrio

Brickell

Bars with views in Miami are almost as ubiquitous as Instagram "models." So to be named the best bar with a view you've gotta be doing something pretty damn special. Here at the 25th-floor sky lobby of the Conrad Hotel, you can sit on the patio or in the three-story atrium and enjoy the view east across Biscayne Bay and Key Biscayne. Or look west through the restaurant at the sunset over the sprawling city.

COURTESY OF THE SETAI

The Bar at the Setai

South Beach

Though it seems the restaurant at the Setai changes almost as frequently as the guests in the $32,000-a-night penthouse suite, the one great constant is the bar. You can either sit inside, among modern Asian bamboo, and enjoy some of the best people-watching in South Beach, or take your act outside to the serene courtyard complete with a reflecting pool. Then maybe wander over and see what kind of restaurant it's got there this week.

Rose Bar at Delano

Rose Bar at Delano

South Beach

It's an Ian Schrager-designed bar, so we are actually required by law to include it on any list of "beautiful places." But even without that mandate, the Delano's signature bar has been a must-see for anyone coming to South Beach for almost two decades. The long white curtains and oversized chairs of the lobby create a perfect setting to enjoy drinks that cost more than a tank of gas. And an even better place to see wealthy older men get chatted up by women who love....... wealthy older men.

WYNWOOD KITCHEN AND BAR

Wynwood Kitchen & Bar

Wynwood

Aside from ArtWalk -- which has basically devolved into Mardi Gras with street art -- it's hard to enjoy the outdoor museum that is Wynwood while at the same time enjoying a nice, frosty beverage. Unless of course you're having drinks right next to the Wynwood Walls at this spot, where even while sitting inside you're still surrounded by floor-to-ceiling modern murals. Pro tip: order the ropa vieja empanada, one of the most only-in-Miami food items you'll find.

COURTESY OF COYA

Coya

Brickell

If you love pisco, the good news is it's easier to get to Peru from Miami than anywhere else in America. The better news? It's even easier to get to this spot, which in addition to boasting the best selection of pisco in the city, is adorned like a 1950s Latin American social club, with worn walls and bright colors, and filled with hefty red leather furniture. As the sun sets, the light peers in through the trees in front, giving this the feeling of an old-time Spanish bar somewhere in the jungle.

Courtesy of Zoltan

Haven

South Beach

If Marty McFly had found a bar to watch the Cubs beat Miami in the 2015 World Series, it would have looked exactly like Haven. With blue mood lighting, chairs underlit in bright red, and flat screens wrapping around it all, you could almost call Haven "the sports bar of the future." A future where people eat duck burgers with foie gras butter while watching baseball.

COURTESY MO BAR & LOUNGE

MO Bar + Lounge

Brickell

Sharing a wall with not one, but TWO of the 21 best restaurants in Miami would make pretty much anyone feel like the Cooper Manning of bars. But MO Bar holds its own, offering up inventive cocktails with a floor-to-two-story-ceiling view of the Brickell skyline and slick modern decor. And you can enjoy your drinks either inside the nicely air-conditioned Mandarin Oriental, or outside on the patio where you can listen to the water. Or, more accurately, bass from the boats that roll by.

COURTESY OF THE FORGE

The Forge Wine Bar

Miami Beach

When it comes to old-school, we've-probably-got-a-pet-baby-giraffe-in-the-back opulence, nothing in Miami comes close to The Forge. It's like eating in a medieval dining room that somehow got taken over by a South Beach design firm, and is now adorned with purple lighting and crystal. The bar is pure elegance, boasting wines that cost hundreds of dollars a bottle. But what makes this one of Miami's best wine bars is how those wines are offered in 1oz pours, so even an almost-broke wine snob can find out what Opus One really tastes like.

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Matt Meltzer is a staff writer for Thrillist who can still appreciate the subtle beauty of Mac's Club Deuce. See what else he finds beautiful on Instagram: @meltrez1.

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1. The Mondrian Sunset Lounge Hush-Hush Cocktail 1100 West Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (South Beach)

Starting Monday, Mondrian's waterside (and bikini-filled!) Sunset Lounge is teaming with the Bar Lab dudes for their "Members Only" party, where they'll be wearing really sweet jackets crafting innovative concoctions each weeknight. If you hit up bartender Gabe over the next month, he'll pour you the Sunset Strip: four different boozes including gin, a honey liqueur, Aperol, as well as orange and lemon bitters, also what Pierce Brosnan was after Robin Williams’ run-by fruiting.

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2. Ball & Chain 1513 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135 (Little Havana)

This historic live music spot, which has seen Billie Holiday and Count Basie, is renowned for its high-class staging of musicians, as well as for being one of the first venues to allow African-American jazz performers. Today it stands complete with its original neon sign and Dade County Pine ceiling, offering pastelito-infused drinks and plenty of Cuban music.

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3. 1930s House 4041 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33140 (Miami Beach)

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.

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4. Blume Nightclub 1421 S Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33131

A classic Florida aesthetic is fused with a modern Miami atmosphere at this swanky club, which sets palms and ferns among a LED chandelier and color leather seating. The lounge also boasts a sizable dance floor and themed nights.

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5. Katsuya 1701 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

While Katsuya doles out unsurprising Japanese dishes (like crispy rice w/ spicy tuna, Kobe sliders, Yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño, and rock shrimp tempura), it's atmosphere is quite a treat for the eyes. It's set inside SLS and definitely holds true to Miami hotel flare.

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6. Atrio 1395 Brickell Ave, Miami, FL 33131 (Brickell)

Enjoy internationally inspired fare and over 200 different vintages while gazing out at 360 degrees of Miami skyline from the Conrad Hotel's 25th-floor resto.

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7. The Grill At The Setai 2001 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (South Beach)

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.

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8. Delano South Beach 1685 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (South Beach)

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.

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9. Wynwood Kitchen & Bar 2550 NW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33127 (Wynwood)

Set up to look like a warehouse gallery replete with street murals by Shepard Fairey and huge abstracts by Christian Awe, WKB offers a broad menu of stuff like tomato/watermelon gazpacho, sauteed mussels in a tomato jalapeno broth, a lamb burger w/ mint sauce, and entrees including clay pots like basil & charred pineapple w/ mussels and snapper curry.

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10. Coya 999 Brickell Ave, Miami, FL 33131 (Brickell)

Entering Coya is like going back to the Latin America of old, with its high ceilings and rotating collection of 1900s photographs. Though they offer a members-only club experience as well, the main dining room is a great place to enjoy stuff like their red snapper cevice in shiitake mushroom and truffle leche de tigre.

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11. Haven 1237 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (Miami Beach)

South Beach's gastro-lounge has rotating roster of cocktails including the feVer (pear vodka/ prosecco plus jalapeno & lychee), and eats like a houseground duck fritters.

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12. MO Bar + Lounge 500 Brickell Key Dr, Miami, FL 33131 (Brickell)

Located inside the luxurious Mandarin Oriental, this bar-cum-lounge boasts gorgeous, panoramic beach views from an expansive floor to ceiling glass facade enveloping the entirety of the bar. The cocktails are equally impressive. Try killer spirits like their Ramos Gin Fizz or a Lemongrass Gin and Tonic. And take the opportunity to enjoy one of these carefully-crafted beverages before, or after, soaking up the sun.

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13. The Forge Restaurant & Wine Bar 432 W 41st St, Miami Beach, FL 33140 (Miami Beach)

If you think New American food tastes best when consumed in a space with all the opulence of Jay Gatsby’s mansion-meets a medieval library-meets a Tim Burton-themed wedding a la Martha Stewart, well -- you should probably try to grab a highly coveted reservation at the Forge. Regulars rave over gussied up comfort food like the black truffle macaroni and cheese pot pie, decadently tempting enough that you’ll likely ignore the server’s advice to “let it cool.” Fortunately, the cavernous wine cellar – one of the largest in Miami – features enough chilled wines to offer a cooling respite.

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