Craft cocktails in Miami
April 10, 2014 8:16 AM   Subscribe

Interested in craft cocktail bars in Miami and Miami Beach. I've been to the Broken Shaker and the Regent Cocktail Club. Would love more suggestions. Thanks!
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell to Food & Drink (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Imbibe did a feature on the Miami cocktail scene last December that mentions the same 2 places you do as well as some others. Maybe some of those would be good?
posted by Wretch729 at 7:13 AM on April 11, 2014

I will now answer my own question, in case any adventurers stumble across this corridor. A friend and I did a bunch of research online, then visited a number of cocktail bars (and restaurants) in Miami Beach. The short version is that if you are a serious cocktail nerd who is accustomed to craft cocktails in a place like NYC, Miami can't match that. The scene there is quite new, and while it will likely only improve as the hospitality industry in Miami is generally booming, it still has a long way to go. Still, you can find a decent drink, but your best bet is going to be the first place on the list below.

On to specifics. (Note: Most cocktail bars in Miami Beach are located inside hotels.) The Regent Cocktail Club at the Gale is probably the most sophisticated place. The decor is speakeasy-esque, and the focus is on the classics. We actually went twice, early on a Friday (very few customers) and late on a Saturday (very crowded). The Queens Park Swizzle I had here on Friday was the best drink I had in Miami Beach, and actually was probably the best QPS I've ever had, though it's not a drink I've ordered often. On Saturday, things were more hectic and the quality was not as good. Service was efficient but not warm.

Broken Shaker at the Freehand also has potential, though my was it packed on Saturday night. There was a wait three to four deep at the tiny bar, behind which three bartenders were crammed and all working at once. Their (small) menu consisted of libations developed in-house, and the first set of drinks we ordered were pretty good. (I think I had something green and minty, a distant cousin of a Missionary's Downfall.) The next round we ordered off their "special" menu, and that was not a success. I had some sort of Mai Tai that tasted like it was missing an ingredient. Our bartender was very friendly, though, despite being harried.

Martini Bar at the Raleigh had really lovely decor and a friendly bartender, but no menu. It was bartender's choice, which is not a favorite of mine. As someone with a bit of experience, I still find it daunting, and I'm sure newcomers do as well. I had some sort of spicy mezcal-based drink. It was alright. Went early on Friday and just a few other folks were there, but it's a very small space (though there's a lounge right outside).

The Social Club at the Surfcomber had an intriguing menu, but it was all house-developed concoctions, and it seemed like a little more effort had gone into making the drinks cutesy rather than good. They also had a special menu of tiki drinks where the rum had been replaced by tequila in every instance. Potentially interesting, I suppose, but our first (and only) round, off the regular menu, was unmemorable, and our bartender was not especially friendly. Went early-ish on Friday (right after Martini Bar)—the place was starting to fill up.

The Dutch at the W closed strangely early—midnight, even on a Friday. We made it there early on Saturday and were deeply unimpressed. Our bartender was quite friendly, but this is not really a cocktail place. It's just a hard-to-figure bar that happens to have a few fancy-sounding drinks on the menu. Eminently skippable.

As is the case in NYC these days, fancy restaurants all seem to have cocktail menus, too. We had some pretty good drinks at Orange Blossom and Khong River House, and I had a decent cocktail at Hakkasan as well. (I'd also recommend all three restaurants, too, with the honey glazed sea bass at Hakkasan and the whole salt-crust branzino at Khong both incredibly amazing.) Khong River has a separate bar on the second floor called Patpong Road, but it's only open on weekends, and I'm not sure if it has a spearate menu. We skipped the cocktails at Yardbird, which had a really quirky menu, though I'd actually recommend skipping the restaurant altogether.

A few other notes: Skybar at the Shore Club apparently has a rum bar, but it closes at 6 PM! That's pretty crazy, and we never made it. The Rose Bar at the Delano, Bar Centro at the SLS, and the Living Room Bar at the W are all party places, not cocktail places. The one place we did not get to on our list was 1930 Social Club (not to be confused with the above-mentioned Social Club), which is an offshoot of the restaurant Lucali.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 11:07 PM on May 1, 2014

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