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The best bars in South Beach to avoid the worst parts of South Beach

You鈥檒l find no overpriced clubs or snobby gatekeepers in our guide to the most fantastic bars in South Beach.

Written by
Eric Barton
Contributors
Ryan Pfeffer
,
Ashley Brozic
&
Falyn Wood
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We’re not knocking the bachelor parties and girls’-night-out groups from Wisconsin that tend to crowd into overpriced SoBe bars with the single goal of guzzling aquarium-sized cocktails after a day of roasting on Miami’s famous beaches. People flock to South Beach, Miami’s most touristic ‘hood, often for this very reason. We’re just not going to suggest that you repeat their mistakes.

Look, we fancy a frozen daiquiri churned from a washing machine vat behind the bar as much as the next person. But we’re here to assure you that South Beach has legendary dive bars, excellent cocktail dens and plenty of unexpected hidden gems, too. No guide to Miami Beach would be complete without a survey of the area’s most worthy watering holes. So without further delay, here are our top picks for the best bars in South Beach.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to South Beach, Miami

Best bars in South Beach

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

When the team behind Lost Boy Dry Goods opened in Downtown, nobody expected a damn good cocktail bar smack in the center of what was then an area with little draw. Apparently, they repeated this thinking when they settled on Tropezón’s location, tucked away on touristy Española Way. Here, they’ve done up an Andalusian gin and tapas theme, and it’s primarily about that gin, with nearly two dozen variations infused with everything from nuts to cured meats.

  • 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 remained a quintessential 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.

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  • 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.

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

 

Hidden inside the ground floor of the trendy new Esme Hotel on Española Way, El Salón invites you to satiate your curiosity and try something new. Aesthetically, it’s something like the drawing room of a Moroccan riad infused with the sultry glamor of an old Hollywood boudoir. The most popular cocktails are the margarita and a very bright and gingery penicillin. A Mai Thai anywhere else is likely a miss, El Salon's could raise Hemingway from his grave. If you’re feeling fun, make this the first cocktail you order.

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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.

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

The cute bar of the Kimpton Angler's Hotel 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 Rhode Island lobster roll. The cocktail menu is approachable and fresh with ingredients like mango, pineapple and passionfruit, and they’ve got some good choices behind the bar.

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • South Beach
  • 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.

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

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  • 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.

  • 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 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

The Team behind Ariete and Chug’s cooked up this petite, polished South of Fifth bar. 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. At happy hour, score $10 rum punches and $8 strawberry spritzes.

  • Hotels
  • Spa hotels
  • Belle Isle
  • price 3 of 4

Moody, intimate, nostalgic—the Standard Spa Miami Beach’s sexy little cocktail den harkens back to bars of the ‘70s and ‘80s, when drinks were more involved and people actually sat around to sip them. Monterrey Bar’s menu puts a modern spin on classic tipples with thoughtful garnishes and tableside finishers that enhance the overall drinking experience.

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  • 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 that maintains old-school South Beach hours, opening at 8pm and not closing until 4am.

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