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Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Company
Photograph: Courtesy Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Company/Kristam Burello

Dodge the tourist traps with our guide to the best bars in South Beach

From panoramic rooftops to smoke-filled dives, the best South Beach bars might surprise you

Falyn Wood
Written by
Ryan Pfeffer
&
Falyn Wood
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Instagram versus reality: South Beach bars. In the former, an entourage of model-slash-influencers breeze their way past a huddle of surly doormen as an endless line of wistful onlookers wait their turn behind velvet ropes. In reality, it’s that, but it’s also so much more.

Mention a night out in South Beach to a local and you might be met with more than a wary glance. The bridge traffic! The tourists! The prices! There’s a lot to navigate (and frankly, avoid) in South Beach’s shifty nightlife scene. But if its numerous positive attributes are any indication (have you checked out any of South Beach’s best restaurants lately?), there’s a lot more to this famous party capital than its wild reputation lets on.

Who knows? After wetting your beak at one of our favorite SoBe bars, you just might be inclined to dance the night away at one of South Beach’s best clubs. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! Here’s our guide to the best bars in South Beach.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to South Beach, Miami

Best bars in South Beach

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • South Beach
  • price 2 of 4

Why limit yourself to mojitos and daiquiris? At Swizzle, rum gets the treatment it deserves, with an inventive cocktail menu that explores the full depth and nuance of this quintessential Caribbean spirit. Ideal for a boozy nightcap, this dimly lit drinking den hidden in the Stiles Hotel boasts more than 150 varieties in a cozy, low-key atmosphere.

  • Bars
  • South of Fifth

The Deuce isn’t the only spot in South Beach where you’ll find neon lights, a dingy pool table, cheap-as-dirt drinks and a rotating cast of lovable degenerates. A stalwart sports dive in the ever-trendy and manicured South of Fifth ’hood, Ted’s is a dark and cool escape from the elements where dogs are welcome and dress codes are strictly unenforced.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Miami Beach
  • price 3 of 4

It’s technically in Mid-Beach, but Broken Shaker is a destination in its own right, the spot that ushered in a new golden era of craft cocktail culture not just on the beach but in all of Miami. Located in the Freehand Hotel, the bar itself is tiny but services a sprawling poolside garden where the vibe is laidback bohemian and the weekend parties get frisky.

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Allapattah
  • price 3 of 4

Plenty of South Beach hotels have a rooftop bar, but Watr stands out enough to make braving the tourists (and the price tags) worth it. If you’re set on a buzzy cocktail scene with 360-degree ocean and city views, it doesn’t get more spectacular than Watr. Reservations are required for non-hotel guests at this sleek and well-shaded deck perched atop 1 Hotel.

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What’s a better antidote to our post-quarantine social anxiety than a disco ball-strewn, television-themed gay bar? A hop and skip away from Twist, the legendary gay mecca that’s recently been plagued by a string of unfortunate phone thefts, Nathan’s is decidedly friendlier and delightfully kitsch with six themed private sections, among them Sex and the City, Black-ish and The Brady Bunch, plus additional patio seating.

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  • Bars
  • South Beach
  • price 1 of 4

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. Stop here to drink beneath the bar’s neon lights, which were installed during the filming of a Miami Vice episode.

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • South Beach
  • price 2 of 4

Miami’s undisputed champion of drag brunch. They practically invented the pairing of mimosas and drag queens and continue to do it (on the sidewalk of Ocean Drive, no less) better than anyone in town. Reservations for the popular weekend brunch shows are advised. The $45 per person fee comes with food and bottomless mimosas.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • South of Fifth
  • price 3 of 4

As the name implies, Minibar is diminutive. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in personality. The decor is chic, the vibe is intimate and laidback and the cocktails are really solid. Minibar has quickly become a watering hole for South of Fifth cool kids. On the weekends, resident DJ Niko plays a solid mix of ’80s and ’90s-heavy dance hits, from Queen and Abba to Technotronic and everything in between.

  • Bars
  • South Beach
  • price 1 of 4

The Abbey serves up dive-y vibes (read: pool, darts, jukebox) and a welcome change of pace from the frilly Lincoln Road, which sits just a block behind it. Fans rave about the house-brewed beers (the Abbey is part of the Tank Brewing Co. family) and the stellar IPA lineup, but booze is also on the menu here.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • South of Fifth
  • price 2 of 4

Happy hour runs from 5 to 8pm at this petite, polished South of Fifth bar from the team behind Ariete. ScapeGoat prides itself on its cocktails, which are actually quite good. Don’t expect the serious cocktail bar attitude here, though. It’s a lowkey atmosphere, but things can get silly at night.

  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • South Beach
  • price 2 of 4

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. Your wallet will love the $3 PBR.

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  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • South Beach
  • price 3 of 4

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. Because you love gin. The cocktail menu revolves around that beloved spirit and they’ve got some good choices behind the bar.

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