The flashy, Las Vegas-style clubs in Miami may get most of the attention in the Miami nightlife headlines, but there are plenty of other great places to grab a drink in the city. The best bars in Miami run the gamut from Miami rooftop bars with stunning views to top-notch cocktail dens helmed by award-winning mixologists. The best part? They don’t all require patrons to don flashy designer duds nor pay a cover charge just to pass through the velvet ropes.
Best bars in Miami
The collective experience local restaurateurs and nightlife pros Dan Binkiewicz, David Martinez and John Lermayer bring to Sweet Liberty is what makes this space much more than just a bar—think killer drinks, sophisticated bar snacks and DJs who think beyond the Top 40. Where else can you order cauliflower nachos, a rum old fashioned and dance the night away to ’90s hip-hop?
Not all New York transplants succeed in Miami, but this cult-favorite has made quite the impression. The same spirit-obsessed guys who founded the West Village original created the nearly identical menu for the South Beach hotspot, down to its seasonal smashes and gourmet bar bites (the bone marrow poppers and handmade steak tartare are signatures). The lab-coat-wearing bartenders here are among the most discerning in the city, known as much for their skill and consistency as for pouring deceptively strong cocktails.
A star in the nightlife dessert that is the Upper Eastside, the Anderson brings in people from all over with its kitschy ’80s vibe and retro-inspired drink menu by the talented Bar Lab guys. It’s likely you won’t recognize any of the cocktails on the menu, so pick your spirit and take a chance on a drink made with mole bitters and infused shrubs—you won’t be disappointed.
Known affectionately as the Shaker, the OG Miami cocktail bar is just as buzzy as it was when it first opened in 2012. It’s also one of the few Miami Beach spots where locals and tourists peacefully coexist, kicking back in the poolside patio with board games and Jenga. If it’s on the menu, order it. Just about every cocktail on the menu is a slam dunk, be it the handcrafted ones or the shareable punches, which change seasonally.
Not all stereotypes are bad, like this Little Havana bar that blares salsa music, offers dance lessons and serves one of the best mojitos in town. And it’s not just Latin kitsch for tourists—Ball & Chain packs in the locals, too, especially during happy and for live music on the outdoor pineapple stage.
It’s not uncommon to see a line forming downstairs at EAST, Miami to ride the elevator up 40 flights to Sugar. Remain patient and you’ll be rewarded with 360-views of the city and surrounding waterways, Asian-themed cocktails (like the Sweet Life, a sugar-y cocktail blended with Thai iced tea, lemon and whiskey) and a place that feels more like a secluded, storybook garden than a bar.
Rácket has all the trappings of a cool, South Beach bar but it’s in Wynwood, which means you won’t have to suffer through long lines to get in or drop cash on a bottle to claim a couch in the airy cocktail lounge. You will have to pay slightly higher prices for a drink than the going neighborhood rate, but it’s well worth it for one of its tiki-influenced tequila drinks, like the Blessing in Disguise made with Herradura Reposado, mango and habanero shrub.
The mostly outdoor bar manages to be intriguing enough for visiting tourists, while maintaining a loyal following of locals. It’s a Latin concept— Colombian, specifically—and shows its influence everywhere you turn. Certain furniture was actually shipped over from Colombia and resident DJ Mr. Pauer, curates a masterful playlist of old school Latin, reggae, electro, and everything in between to guarantee hips never stop shaking.
The sign out front says it all: air conditioning, beer and cocktails. What more could you want in steaming hot Miami? Perhaps weekly karaoke or a variety of local brews on tap? Don't forget the cocktails, too, especially the Moscow mule. After a couple of those, walk outside and grab a slice from Gramps own tiny restaurant, Pizza Tropical. Take your pizza and cocktail and grab a seat in Gramps Florida-chic backyard. You’ll quickly realize why this Wynwood bar is so popular.
A night at Lagniappe feels like a backyard bash at a friend’s—if said friend had a spacious yard filled with mismatched lawn furniture and strung-up bistro lights. It’s all very casual here: Walk in, pick your bottle from the cooler (generally stocked from small-production wineries) and take your selection to the register, where it’s uncorked before you head to the back to enjoy.