April 2019: New to the list is the South of Fifth spot Minibar, which, in addition to having surprisingly good cocktails, has cultivated a very fun crowd. Another hotel bar, Minnow Bar, also makes the list thanks to its quality cocktail menu and chic decor. We had to cut the awesome Employees Only, which closed unexpectedly. And we’ve removed Purdy Lounge from the list. R.I.P.
Finding the best South Beach bars can prove tricky for both locals and tourists. There are a lot of distractions around that area—places that charge a ton and rarely deliver on quality. This has led some folks to ignore the area completely. But what a mistake that is. Does the South Beach of today still have some tourist traps? Sure. But it’s also now home to some of the best restaurants in Miami and the best bars in Miami—and things only seem to be getting better. So toss aside those tired expectations. It’s time to start drinking in South Beach again.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to South Beach, Miami
Best bars in South Beach
What is it? Forget South Beach—Sweet Liberty is known as one of the best bars in Miami. Period. This flashy cocktail bar whips up amazing cocktails alongside a menu of fresh seafood and delicious bar food.
Why go? Happy hour (95 cent oysters and $5 rosé) is every day from 4 to 7pm. Write that down.
What is it? The great Mac Klein ran this bar, one of Miami’s oldest, until he passed away in 2016 at the ripe old age of 101. Today, his bar lives on just as he intended it: old-school, smoky, unpretentious and simply the best dive bar in Florida.
Why go? To drink beneath the bar’s neon lights, which were installed during the filming of a Miami Vice episode.
What is it? Miami’s (and probably the world’s) undisputed champion of drag brunch. They practically invented the pairing of mimosas and drag queens and continue to do it (on the sidewalk, nonetheless) better than anyone in town. Reservations for the popular weekend brunch shows are advised.
Why go? The $45 per person fee comes with food and bottomless mimosas.
What is it? As the name implies, a very small bar. But what Minibar lacks in size it makes up for in personality. It’s pretty chic and the cocktails are really solid. Minibar has quickly become a watering hole for South of Fifth cool kids.
Why go? For their killer ladies night, where women drink free from 10pm to 2am.
What is it? A place to pretend you’re Don Draper on one of his ill-advised Miami vacations. This place goes for classy, old-school cocktail vibes and mostly hits it. There’s also a rooftop space that’s particularly pretty during sunset.
Why go? Recently renovated, the Regent’s massive relaunch doubled its size, expanded its stage (where soulful jazz performances take place) and introduced Miami-inspired cocktails
What is it? Dive-y vibes and a welcome change of pace from the frilly Lincoln Road, which sits just a block behind it. Try one of the Abbey beers they brew in-house, and if you show up on Sunday, enjoy a complimentary hot dog to go along with it.
Why go? On Sunday, they serve free (!) hot dogs. Everyone should do that on Sunday.
What is it? Another microscopic South of Fifth bar. ScapeGoat prides itself on its cocktails, which are actually quite good. Don’t expect serious cocktail bar attitude here though. Things get silly at night.
Why go? They’ve got truffle parmesan popcorn for you to munch on.
What is it? A beloved for-the-people bar in a chunk of South Beach ripe with tourist traps. Don’t fear the life-size statue of Bruce Lee hanging menacingly over the bar. He is simply there to ensure you have a blast in this classic Miami Beach bar.
Why go? Your wallet will love the $3 PBR.
What is it? The cute bar of the recently renovated Kimpton Angler's Hotel. This place takes its cocktail program seriously and the proof is in the glass. Both outdoor and indoor seating is available as well as a seafood-heavy menu featuring a sneaky good muffuletta.
Why go? Because you love gin. The cocktail menu revolves around that beloved spirit and they’ve got some good choices behind the bar.