We’re not lacking for excellent wine bars in Miami when date night rolls around. Or for rooftop bars when we want to get a little rowdy. In fact, we’re not lacking for great bars in Miami for nearly any occasion. But very special occasions—those nights when you want to roll very high and drink very stiff—call for a certain kind of bar. The kind of bar where you can get a perfectly made cocktail, served by someone looking incredibly dapper (or, at least dapperly disheveled, as is the trend), in an environment that screams class, expertise and ‘you're in safe drinking hands!’. A special occasion calls for a cocktail bar, and Miami, these are your best.
Best cocktail bars in Miami
The Broken Shaker at everyone’s favorite high-end hostel, The Freehand, started as a pop-up cocktail bar before becoming something more permanent—and its success as a mainstay kicked off the Mid-Beach neighborhood’s renaissance. Inside, the tiny award-winning bar is like the love child of New Orleans and Paris, while the outdoor courtyard and poolside area feel very Eden: old-school fountain, mismatched and wildly patterned chairs, lush trees. The cocktail list changes every 10 days based on what’s fresh, and most ingredients are grown or made on the property. The drinks skew tropical and tiki, but the bartenders are fully equipped to serve anything you request. The brains behind the Shaker also oversee the food and beverage program at 27 Restaurant, the neighboring eatery located inside a quintessential Florida house from the 1930s.
It's a menu of modern Italisn staples here, but you will want to get to the drinking. Step inside this Sunset Harbour eatery and head straight for the copper bar. It’s the highlight of this import from Testaccio, the ultra-hip Rome neighborhood that doesn’t even need to try. The bar here covers about 350 square feet with millwork fabricated in Italy and can comfortably fit 14 or so people. The drinks are inspired by the classics and quirkily personified on the menu with stories and fun illustrations. Their take on the Negroni’s Caribbean cousin (aka the rum-soaked Kingston), is the Ernesto, “a contemporary gentleman with a poetic lifestyle and unique taste”. He combines Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum with Cocchi Torino (sweet vermouth), Gancia Americano (bitter Amaro) and house-made peanut butter wash. He’s the kind of guy you’ll want to take home.
The bold aromas of the Eastern Mediterranean emanate from Byblos’ bar on the first floor of this two-level stunner. The restaurant’s mission is to revive authentic Levantine cuisine using modern techniques—expect flavorsome meals, served family-style—and the same ethos guides the cocktail menu. Check out the tableside spirit-infused cold tea trolley—it represents the most sophisticated and attention-grabbing component of the beverage program (order this baby and everyone will be looking on with envy). You essentially get to play adult tea party with an antique Persian setup! The Edgware Road cocktail—London Dry Gin, citron vert tea, Moroccan mint, and lemongrass—is especially invigorating (hello, lemongrass stalks!). It’s aptly named after London’s Middle Eastern, specifically Lebanese, foodie mecca.
If you find yourself wandering through the canyons of Brickell’s newly erected skyscrapers, Blackbird Ordinary is your refuge. The indoor/outdoor cocktail haven is hailed for its bohemian vibe, live music and an edible wall where ingredients flourish. Fresh herbs are used in the signature cocktails like the Spice of Life to brighten the bar’s blend of Fidencio Mezcal, jalapeno, strawberries and fresh lime juice. The bartenders are decidedly down-to-earth and pride themselves on being able to pivot from highbrow (a fancy pre-Prohibition martini) to lowbrow (a shot and a beer!) without missing a beat, which is rare in this ever-evolving neighborhood. Plus, it’s open till 5am.
MO Bar and Lounge in the Mandarin Oriental is the most elegant bar in town: The cocktails are refined and the panoramic view of Brickell’s skyline is extraordinary. And while it certainly caters to glamorous connoisseurs, the bar also manages to remain accessible to curious newcomers yearning for a taste of the city’s cocktail scene. The bartenders know their stuff and they like talking, an unexpected treat for bar-goers who want a meaningful conversation about what they’re drinking and why it’s so special. For limitless chatter, order a quintessential island treat by way of the legendary Hemingway Daiquiri, a hand-shaken union of rum, Maraschino liqueur, fresh grapefruit and lime juice.
This late-night haunt is where South Beach locals rally. The lounge is nestled between the chicest restaurants in the South of Fifth neighborhood, yet board shorts and flip-flops are always welcome. It’s at once playful and edgy inside with a twist of tiki thanks to mid-century Polynesian accessories like mugs, punch bowls, mini parasols and a menu section devoted to tiki cocktails. (On the non-tiki front, there are graffiti-covered walls and a giant Jenga set!) For those who like to imbibe early, Thursday’s ‘Bourbon and Beats’ party offers a boozy escape with $8 cocktails from 6-11pm. To find it, just look for the radio tower on the roof. And here’s a pro tip: Japanese whisky lovers should visit Red Ginger, Radio’s sister venue just steps away, for a selection of hard-to-find bottles of Hibiki, Yamazaki, Nikka, Yoichi, Miyagikyo, Togouchi and Hakushu. We also recommend exploring Taiwanese whiskies made by Kavalan, especially the award-winning single malt (voted best single malt whiskey in the world by World Whiskies Awards this year).
This old-timey cocktail bar continues to buzz after four years of very late nights and countless Sazeracs in downtown Miami. It’s always packed with Miami’s creative class (formerly known as hipsters)—a crowd that gathers and generally stays till sunrise. They’re drawn to the handmade details and craftsmanship of the bar’s distinctive décor—all-wood everything (bar, backbar, ladder, flooring)—and a cocktail list that is a straightforward mix of classics and newfangled recipes. On the latter front, try the Northern Birds, which comprises Tanqueray Malacca gin, Crème de Pamplemousse Rose, Pernod, Angostura bitters, fresh lime and basil leaves. Or try three, and stay with the rest of the crowd till dawn.
The entrance to The Regent Cocktail Club is on the James Avenue side of The Gale hotel. Notice the timeless appearance so reminiscent of Miami Beach’s glitzy heyday—the space was re-created in homage to the hotel that opened there in 1941 with exotic woods, refined lines, sumptuous armchairs and lots of crystal. The cocktails served here are in complete harmony with that extravagant era. What’s more, the dapper bartenders wear bowties while using classic bar tools and vintage glassware. Another major source of inspiration for The Regent’s bar program is the taste of Havana and, as such, it’s one of the only venues in Miami where bartenders serve nearly-forgotten Cuban classics like the Canchánchara (white rum or aguardiente with fresh lemon, honey syrup and crushed ice).