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Ball & Chain pastelito daiquiri
Photograph: Courtesy Ball & Chain

The 10 cocktail experiences you should have in Miami

You can’t call yourself a Miamian without tasting Miami's signature cocktails offered at these top local bars

By Ryan Pfeffer

Whether it's sipping a mojito in Little Havana or clinking margaritas in South Beach, there are certain cocktail experiences every Miamian needs to have. The city's quintessential tipples go beyond the boozy slushies you see tourists toting around (although those are fun, too!)—think thirst-quenching brews from a local brewery or even a classic drink from one of Miami's oldest bars. While the city has no shortage of top-notch options, these are the bars you want to visit and the drinks you want to order for a true taste of the 305. 

Classic Miami cocktail experiences

Giggle Water at Pawn Broker
Photograph: Courtesy Pawn Broker/Juan Fernando Ayora

1. Giggle Water at Pawn Broker

Bars Hotel bars Downtown

Sure—it sounds like it was designed by a kindergarten class, but this is a serious cocktail. Served in a miniature bathtub, the Giggle Water is an ode to Prohibition, when crafty Americans brewed booze illegally in their own bathrooms. It’s damn delicious too: Gin, champagne syrup, Fever-Tree tonic water and lavender-scented foam. It’s a must-order at one of Miami’s best rooftop bars.

Monty's Raw Bar Coconut Grove
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Monty's

2. Painkiller at Monty's Raw Bar

Restaurants Seafood Coconut Grove

Right on the edge of Coconut Grove, yards away from Biscayne Bay, Monty’s is at its peak when the sun is setting. Everyone from sunburnt Parrotheads to thirsty University of Miami kids flock to Monty’s happy hour, where the drink of choice is always the Painkiller. You tell them how bad you’re feeling on a scale of one to three (the PK III will knock you right out) and your waiter takes care of the rest. Dark rum, cream of coconut, pineapple and orange juice, this cocktail does exactly what it advertises—melts away the pain of a long work week.

Ball & Chain pastelito daiquiri
Photograph: Courtesy Ball & Chain

3. Pastelito daquiri at Ball & Chain

Bars East Little Havana

It’s tough to choose a drink at Calle Ocho favorite Ball & Chain as just about everything on the menu is worth ordering. But if we have to pick a Miami-defining beverage, the clear winner is the pastelito daiquiri. The crimson cocktail features rum, guava puree, house-made honey syrup and lime juice and is garnished with the most adorable little pastelito. It’ll even have the gringos saying, “Que cute!” and, after about three, “Of course I know how to salsa!”

4. La Rubia at Wynwood Brewing Company

Bars Breweries Wynwood

Wynwood Brewing is one of the neighborhood’s OG breweries. You’ll have to walk a couple blocks west of Wynwood’s main drag, but once you find this intimate neighborhood joint, head to the bar and ask for a Rubia. It’s the brewery’s signature beer: a light, refreshing blond that’s easy to drink and arguably one of the best brews to ever come out of the 305.

Broken Shaker
Photograph: Adrian Gaut

5. Punch bowl at Broken Shaker at Freehand Miami

Bars Cocktail bars Miami Beach

Few can claim as much credit for Miami’s cocktail revolution than the bartenders over at Miami Beach’s Broken Shaker. They have been setting the bar for cocktail culture in this city ever since Elad Zvi and Gabe Orta first opened the joint in 2012. The cocktail menu shifts based on the season and the imagination of the person behind the bar. But no matter the time of year, you can always get one of the seasonally inspired punch bowls. For $200, one of these bad boys serves six to 12 and is always the perfect way to start the night.

Hoy Como Ayer
Photography: Courtesy of Hoy Como Ayer

6. Mojito at Hoy Como Ayer

Music Latin and world West Little Havana

There’s probably not a more quintessential Miami Cuban bar than Hoy Como Ayer. And what do we drink when we find ourselves at a Cuban bar in Miami? You guessed it: a mojito. This one does not dissapoint. No fancy additions or infusions here. This mojito is simple—made with fresh mint, of course—and strong. With each sip, an aroma of fresh mint kisses your face. Why yes, we will have another.

Gramps Bar and Music
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/duncan c

7. Moscow Mule at Gramps Bar and Music

Bars Dive bars Wynwood

Locals know Gramps is the place to go in Wynwood—especially during happy hour, when a host of delicious cocktails are half off. One of those drinks is Gramps’ signature Moscow Mule. We dare you to have just one of these bad boys. We know mules are trendy now, but this one goes above and beyond. It’s spicy with an authentic snap of ginger flavor (courtesy of the house-made syrup), and pairs wonderfully with a slice from Gramps’ pizza window, Pizza Tropical.

Happy Wine
Photograph: Courtesy Happy Wine/Alessandro Martino

8. Rioja at Happy Wine

Bars Tapas bars Coral Gables

Filled with barrels that double as tables and stacked wine crates in every open nook, Happy Wine is basically our dream sipping room. It boasts an incredible selection without any accompanying pretentiousness. Personally, we always go for the Spanish Rioja.

Wood Tavern, Bars and lounges, Miami
Photograph: Courtesy Wood Tavern

9. Free drink at Wood Tavern


Wood is known for having some legendary deals, like the iconic Taco Tuesday, when tacos are actually free and unlimited. But on Wednesday night, ladies get to enjoy free well drinks from 8pm to midnight. The little red cups in which the drinks are served have become a symbol of Wood Tavern. And guys be warned: you get caught with one in your hand, you’re getting kicked out.

Margaritas on Ocean Drive
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Shak F.

10. Oversize margarita at Mango's Tropical Café

Nightlife Clubs South Beach

They’re too expensive. They’re cheesy. They’re the size of a toilet bowl and strong enough to knock out a water buffalo. But, for better or worse, they’re quintessential of South Beach and every once in a while it’s fun to play tourist on Ocean Drive. Mango's is just one of many restaurants lining the strip that serves the signature drink, so feel free to bar hop—so long as you're not stumbling out. 

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