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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. 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
11

Sunset Lounge

Critics' pick

Yet another hotel lounge, this one is on South Beach’s bay side of the island. The name says it all: There’s simply no better place to watch the sun go down than from the Mondrian's sprawling poolscape. Tuck into one of the private cabanas with a signature caipirinha and let the night envelop you.

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South Beach
12

Wood Tavern

Critics' pick

Art galleries run rampant in Wynwood, but honest-to-goodness pubs? Not so much. Which makes Wood Tavern a particularly welcome addition to the neighborhood (and a great pit stop before or after a movie at the arty O Cinema Wynwood). The backyard patio features communal picnic table seating, making it easy to strike up conversation with a local.

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Wynwood
13

Corsair by Scott Conant

Celebrity chef Scott Conant’s second South Florida restaurant is located in another fancy hotel (at Turnberry Isle Miami), but Corsair is markedly different in its approach to bringing the Mediterranean to Miami. Here, Conant, who achieved fame through his Scarpetta empire, serves seasonal, farmhouse fare in an elegant yet rustic space. The bar’s sophisticated design is balanced by a nonchalant and convivial vibe that Italians refer to as “sprezzatura.” Like Bourbon Steak’s acclaimed bar at Turnberry, Corsair’s 45-seat bar has already become a destination for discerning imbibers looking for high-quality spirits, local and craft beers (Wynwood Brewing Company is on tap) and signature cocktails. Rob Floyd aka “The Liquid Chef” shakes up masterpieces like the San Remo, a beautifully bittersweet combination of Campari, bourbon, elderflower liqueur, Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth and citrus. 

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Aventura
14

Repour

The newest bar to grace Miami Beach is Repour (pronounced “rapport”), a cozy space for imbibing inside The Albion Hotel on Lincoln Road. It’s the creation of cocktail chemist Isaac Grillo, formerly of Haven Lounge, who’s known for serving imaginative concoctions with liquid nitrogen and unexpected infusions. He’s taken a more back(yard)-to-basics approach here, utilizing ingredients grown in the hotel’s garden. One prime example is the Carrot Patch, made with Botanist Islay gin, a carrot-ginger reduction and celery bitters, and served with a side of pickled veggies. Don’t want to go green? Order Grandpa Grillo’s Tea Time (bourbon, Mandarine Napoleon, cassia black tea and fresh lemon, poured over a black tea-Jim Beam ice cube)—a tribute to the mixologist’s grandfather, who drank Beam for 80 years.

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South Beach
15

The Rum Line

Go full tiki at the tropical mecca on the patio of the historic St. Moritz. Robert Ferrara helms the hidden alfresco bar, part of the acclaimed Lure Fishbar family. Expect boozy yet balanced drinks presented in playful ceramic mugs, like the Port of Call, a variation of an ancient milk punch with Atlantico Reserva rum, Ancho Reyes chile liqueur, Solbeso, passion fruit puree, unsweetened almond milk, fresh lime juice, simple syrup and a mini pirate to boot. Polynesian classics, such as daiquiris, mai tais and piña coladas, are also available. Ferrara stocks more than 100 kinds of rum, including elegant and grassy rhum agricoles from the West Indies and rare sipping labels like Black Tot British Royal Navy Rum, the Facundo collection and El Dorado 21.

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South Beach
16

Finka Table & Tap

This trailblazing gastropub is making a name for itself in West Miami-Dade, an area known more for big box retail stores and fast food chains than anything else. It’s far from Miami proper’s glitzy perimeter, but its Korean-Cuban-Peruvian food (yes, this is now a thing) and handcrafted cocktails are a major draw for local foodies who know better than to drink and drive. Bartenders incorporate fresh herbs from a vertical garden to great success: Order the tropical Saged by the Bell (tequila, peach bitters, spicy hibiscus syrup, sage, lime).

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Miami-Dade County
17

Foxhole Bar

On the more residential side of South Beach—far removed from the main tourist and nightclub drag—Foxhole Bar means it when it refers to itself as an "upscale locals’ joint." This late-night hotspot is still jumping as the sun starts to rise, with Miamians jockeying for position among the plush banquettes or playing darts and pool. At the beginning of the night, early birds can take advantage of the weekday happy hour (5-8pm) offering $3 beers and $5 cocktails.

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South Beach
18

Hofbraü Beer Hall

Don’t be fooled by the name: this is not a beerhall. But this Lincoln Road café offers signature German brews in lager, wheat and dark, imported from Munich and served in massive steins that can only be lifted by South Beach muscle boys and girls. The wurst is recommended, as are the piping hot soft pretzels. The restaurant recently added a small wine list to its repertoire.

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South Beach
19

Lou's Beer Garden

For the gourmet grub you’d find in South Beach’s hippest restaurants—minus the obscene prices—head north to this happening neighborhood gastropub. Choose from more than two dozen beer options (bottles and draught), including American microbrews, Belgian beauties and other imported suds. Cocktails featuring premium spirits and boutique wines are also available. Check the weather forecast before going, as this hidden gem is entirely outdoors.

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North Beach
20

Segafredo L'Originale

Don’t be fooled by the espresso signs here; although you can technically order a latte, Segafredo is best known for its boozy brand of European café society. Mobbed with a colorful crowd, the mostly outdoor café lures elegant slummers with its hefty cocktail menu. There’s also wine and beer, and snacks to go with it, but most ’Fredo devotees are on a liquid diet. A Downtown branch (1421 S Miami Avenue, at SE 14th Street, Downtown, 1-305 577 9811), in the Brickell Avenue business district, features a sprawling indoor/outdoor seating area and nightclub, Spazio Nero, so you can get your groove on.

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South Beach

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