Between Miami happy hours and South Beach clubs, sometimes getting a drink in the 305 requires a lot of pushing, shoving and elbow rubbing. To avoid the crowds, make your way to one of these Miami secret bars and speakeasies. Whether it's a downtown watering hole or a dive you never knew existed, these surreptitious spots are quietly sprouting all over town—you've just got to know where to look.
Miami secret bars and speakeasies
Before making a left to the brightly lit dining room, swing a sharp right into Bazaar Mar’s bustling Bar Centro. More than just a waiting area, this dark, sexy lounge serves up some of the most imaginative drinks in town. Squeeze in at one of the high-tops or sidle up to the bar and order the signature salt air margarita, a whimsical take on the traditional drink that’s served in a coupe glass and topped with salty foam.
Floyd has taken over the former Libertine space and introduced an elevated after-hours experience to the neighborhood’s 24/7 party circuit. As the hidden companion to Miami’s most infamous EDM spot, Space, Floyd stands in stark contrast to the over-the-top megaclubs that surround it—think chandeliers instead of lasers, soft jazz and expertly crafted cocktails. The best part? It’s open just as late as the other guys and it's got couches for plenty of late-night lingering.
Securing a table at popular burger joint Kush is nearly impossible, but you’ll welcome the wait since Botanica, the dimly lit adjacent bar, is reserved for customers killing time before being seated. The "cellar" is stocked with an assortment of craft beers, plus you'll find tons of local brews on tap.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Edwin P.
Ora's speakeasy-like bar is somewhat of a misnomer; the intimate lounge is practically the only place where you can actually carry on a conversation in the club. Rather than the high-volume action you'll find below, Anti-Social is mellow and boasts a lengthy cocktail list, each more complex than the last. It's even got a two-way mirror through which you can see the crowds dancing downstairs while you sit quietly and enjoy your hand-crafted drinks.
Another sports grill with the Billy Corben seal of approval, Mike’s at Venetia is 100 percent Miami—in that it’s basically touching the water. With a prime bayside location, it’s one of the nicest places to watch Ndamukong Suh scare the pants off of any Dolphins’ opponent. Family-owned and operated by Mike and Norma Shelow, the Irish pub has 20 televisions available for viewing throughout the bar, restaurant and patio. During NFL games, Mike’s offers some great specials: it’s one of the few places in Miami where diners can score a 12 oz. Angus NY sirloin or rib eye for just $19.95.
It doesn't get more exclusive than this eight-seat bar tucked inside the lobby of the Raleigh Hotel. Not much has changed since opening more than 70 years ago—bartenders are still sharply dressed, drinks are stiff and the playlist is a hit list of classics. While still very much a South Beach bar (read: drinks are not cheap), Martini Bar is atypical for the neighborhood, attracting a mature clientele who favors a well-made cocktail and conversation over well drinks and dancing. Every first Friday of the month, the bar hosts an intimate cocktail competition from 6–8pm, featuring complimentary samples and $10 drinks.
Next time someone tries to tell you there’s nothing to do in Hialeah, shove them in an Uber and take them to the Bend. This lovable neighborhood joint goes by the motto: “Liquor in the front, party in the rear.” And it delivers on that simple promise. The part liquor store/part lounge offers a warm, nostalgic atmosphere complete with vintage arcade games, cozy seating and cheap but quality drinks. The Bend borrows all the best qualities of a dive bar and combines them with the service and performance of a high-end lounge. Next time you’re out west, stop by and get to know the real Miami.
What began quietly as a pop-up concept has evolved into a neighborhood fixture, though it’s still a bit of a Brickell secret. Better Days, with its shabby-chic ’70s décor and cozy vibe, is one of the more laid-back options locals have in Miami’s financial district, which is partly the reason why you’ll never see the typical happy hour crowds lining up to drink here. Instead, you’ll find night owls in search of a reasonably priced, well-made cocktail or large groups crushing beers and shooting pool.
You’ve probably been too busy scarfing down tacos and chips to notice Coyo’s secret back bar. Walk past the bathroom, down the hall and through the swinging doors to discover one of Wynwood’s best-kept secrets—and drinking den. The taco shop saves its best cocktails for the bar inside this small square room: paletaritas, mescal margaritas and a slew of tequila-based concoctions round out the drink menu. Looking to get down? On Saturday nights, the place turns into one giant dance party set to indie jams and techno beats.
While University of Miami students have long known about the Wetlab, a graduate-student-run bar on the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science campus, most locals have yet to discover it. It’s not easy to find (hint: you’ll need to walk toward the back of UM’s RSMAS), but it does promise one of the best views in Key Biscayne. With waterfront seating and an impressive tap of craft beers, Wetlab is the ultimate place to take a study break — or relive your college days one sip at a time.