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The 20 best bars in Miami

Sip cocktails by the pool or sample locally brewed beer—peruse our list of the best bars in Miami then choose your poison and preferred setting

Photograph: Zoltan
Haven Lounge

The circus-like, Las Vegas-style clubs of Miami may get most of the attention in the nightlife headlines, but there are plenty of other great Miami bars, including rooftop bars with stunning views. And they don’t all require patrons to don flashy designer duds or pay a $20 cover charge just to pass through the velvet ropes.

The best bars in Miami

1

The Broken Shaker

Critics' pick

Elad Zvi and Gabriel Orta are the forward-thinking mixologists behind The Broken Shaker, a popular pop-up bar that established a permanent home at the Freehand, an innovative hostel concept. As the name indicates, cocktails are the thing here, and the menu changes almost daily, as drinks are all handcrafted with fresh-pressed ingredients and infusions made from a variety of herbs and spices, picked by the bartenders themselves.

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Mid Beach
2

Crown Room

Critics' pick

For a decidedly polished drinking experience, post up at the white marble bar on the second floor of the newest Art Deco revival hotel, the Thompson. While the library-style lounge is fairly new to the cocktail circuit, it’s not wasting any time on its way to the top. Guests pick their poison from a compendium of enduring classics and reimagined recipes presented in the form of a dictionary. It’s a nice touch—and a clever way to explain the spirits starring in each drink. The glassware is as elegant as the midcentury atmosphere: long-stemmed cocktail glasses, vintage coupes, delicate sherry/cordial glasses with etchings or tints and stately rocks glasses. Reach for the Rattlesnake, made with Sazerac rye, absinthe, fresh lemon juice and egg white—the recipe dates back to a 1930s bartending manual for London’s Savoy Hotel. Pro tip: Valet parking is $5 for locals with a validated ticket.

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Miami Beach
3

Living Room

Critics' pick

The lobby bar at W South Beach probably doesn’t look anything like your living room. Unless your living room happens to be decked out with the sleekest velvet and faux fur furniture, and looks out on to one of the most beautiful pool areas in South Beach. It’s oceanfront, too, though you wouldn’t know it from the ground floor—a wall of perfectly landscaped hedges blocks your view of the beach, but also keeps the boardwalk gawkers at bay. In late 2012, the venue had a major mixology makeover, enlisting the assistance of famed cocktail connoisseur Scott Beattie (who literally wrote the book on Artisanal Cocktails) to devise drinks that look and taste like art in a glass.

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South Beach
4

The Regent Cocktail Club

Critics' pick

Everything old is new again at this classic cocktail bar. Cordial mixologists—waistcoats and all—pour deliciously authentic drinks in a space that feels worlds away from the hustle of South Beach, yet is in the heart of it all. The lounge’s retro stylings, complete with leather banquettes, live jazz and a side patio for cigar smoking and dominoes, make it feel as if the Rat Pack could walk through the door at any moment.

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South Beach
5

Abbey Brewing Company

Critics' pick

Sick of flashy martinis? Seek salvation in this hole-in-the-wall-turned-microbrewery, which offers rare European imports plus several own-made beers. Luckily, it didn’t lose its classic dive-bar soul in the conversion process—or the dartboard. It’s a fine place to meet the locals, and even better when preceded by a meal at Southern food star Yardbird right next door.

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South Beach
6

Ball & Chain

Critics' pick

Today’s Ball & Chain is a recreation of a 1930s hotspot that once occupied the same space and welcomed jazz superstars like Billie Holiday, Count Basie and Chet Baker to its stage. Across from the historic Tower Theater, the Ball & Chain has its own storied past filled with Jewish and Cuban community influences. We recommend sampling a few Cuban-inspired cocktails: the Mojito Criollo (made the classic way with the mint leaves left intact for enhanced aroma, and more sugar), the Canita (white rum, lime, house-made honey syrup, guarapo or sugarcane juice, sugarcane stick) and the Pastelito Daiquiri (pastelito-infused aged rum, lime, simple syrup, and a side of pastelitos or guava pastries). Expect live jazz at 6pm sharp Thursday through Saturday. On Saturdays, a wild Cuban fiesta, La Pachanga, kicks off around 9pm when salsa dancers take to the bar.

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Little Havana
7

Blackbird Ordinary

Critics' pick

If drinking tequila and/or whiskey into the wee hours is your idea of a great night out, welcome home. Truth be told, there’s nothing ordinary about Blackbird; in a town full of blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em bars, this one’s got a distinct personality. And staying power too. Take your libations straight up or in a handcrafted cocktail. The signature Blackbird—a mix of sweet tea vodka, fresh lemonade and blackberries served on the rocks—is the perfect antidote to the sizzling south Florida sun.

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Brickell
8

The Corner

Critics' pick

This dark corner bar is a far cry from its outrageous neighbors in downtown Miami’s nightclub district, though it’s become a popular spot pre or post E11even, the adjacent 24-hour strip club. Step inside Miami’s version of a saloon for a closer look at the impressive back bar. Craving a scotch from way up top? No problem. The barkeeps here use a wooden ladder to navigate the extensive collection of spirits (a solid list of craft beers and wines is also available). Cocktails like the La Tacubaya (tequila, Green Chartreuse, lime juice, hibiscus, agave syrup and habanero bitters) are made with the freshest ingredients. Appreciative locals pack the bar and sidewalk every night of the week, though Tuesdays attract an especially hipster-heavy crowd—perhaps it’s the live jazz? Surviving the late-night revelry is more likely if you fuel up on tasty bar bites.  

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Downtown
9

Haven Lounge

Critics' pick

Located at the western end of Lincoln Road, Haven isn’t a gastropub but a gastro-lounge. Which means that it takes an anything-goes attitude toward its libations. So, don’t be too surprised to find a few leaves of arugula in your cocktail glass or a spicy apple foam top.

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South Beach
10

Mac's Club Deuce

Critics' pick

It’s surprising the Deuce has even got a phone. The place is charmingly out of character for the area—a mere two blocks from the ocean—and "eclectic" doesn’t begin to describe the mix of South Beach denizens who gather here nightly. From transsexual hookers and down-and-out locals to nightclub glitterati and slumming celebs, the Deuce attracts the motliest, coolest, scariest crowd of any bar in Miami. (Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has often touted his love of this place.) We’ve been beaten here at pool by a go-go-ing blonde, shared cigarettes with a real-life cowboy and traded shots of JD with a writer of erotic fiction. For anyone who ever fancied a bit part in a Charles Bukowski story, this dive bar would be the right place to audition.

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South Beach
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