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.
If drinking tequila and/or whiskey into the wee hours is your idea of a great night out, welcome home. Truth be told, there’s nothing ordinary about Blackbird; in a town full of blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em bars, this one’s got a distinct personality. And staying power too. Take your libations straight up or in a handcrafted cocktail. The signature Blackbird—a mix of sweet tea vodka, fresh lemonade and blackberries served on the rocks—is the perfect antidote to the sizzling south Florida sun.
Dark, bare and casual, Miami’s version of a saloon is perennially packed with locals to the point that, on most weekend nights, the crowd extends all the way through to the street. It’s unusual for a bar flanked by clubs and many other places to drink but not at all surprising for the Corner, who boasts an impressive selection of spirits and beers (more than 50) and a menu of great handcrafted cocktails. The subdued spot reaches peak chill levels during its weekly jazz night on Tuesdays.
Mescal is the specialty at Melinda’s and it comes in a selection of exciting concoctions: rimmed with grasshopper salt in the Serrano Mezcalita or cold and refreshing in a perfectly blended slushy. The warm leather booths and checkered floor make for a pleasant hideaway from the surrounding Wynwood madness.
Tucked between Brickell high-rises—sporting a casual kitsch not often found in the haughty financial district—Better Days is an oasis. Open from 5pm to 5am, it’s ideal for either happy hour or late night. Solid cocktails, board games, pool and weekly karaoke all help build a friendly air and loyal crowd.
Art galleries run rampant in Wynwood, but honest-to-goodness pubs? Not so much. Which makes Wood Tavern a favorite in the neighborhood (and a great pit stop before or after Art Walk). The backyard patio features communal picnic table seating, a spacious center bar and a converted station wagon that operates as a taco stand—serving up free soft tacos on Tuesdays.
If family-friendly watering holes were a thing, this place would be it. Grown-ups can grab a drink from the back bar, order a slice of New York’s beloved Artichoke pizza from the front counter and chill out on picnic tables while little ones keep themselves busy with arcade games and table hockey. Though it’s worth mentioning the bar is seldom overrun with kids and it offers one of the best happy hours in town: the entire menu is 50 percent every single day from 5 to 10pm.
On the more residential side of South Beach, Foxhole Bar means it when it refers to itself as an “upscale locals’ joint.” This late-night hotspot is still jumping as the sun starts to rise, with Miamians jockeying for position among the plush banquettes, playing pool or dancing to the bar’s signature soundtrack of old-school hip-hop.
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. It pairs particularly well with the legendary Hemingway Daiquiri, a hand-shaken concoction of rum, Maraschino liqueur, fresh grapefruit and lime juice.
Everything old is new again at this classic cocktail bar. Cordial mixologists—waistcoats and all—pour deliciously authentic drinks in a space that feels worlds away from the hustle of South Beach, yet is in the heart of it all. The lounge’s retro stylings, complete with leather banquettes, live jazz and a side patio for cigar smoking and dominoes, make it feel as if the Rat Pack could walk through the door at any moment.
A Miami Beach institution for more than 50 years, Mac’s looks just as it did when it first opened in 1964: dingy, dark and irresistibly charming. The hangout is one of Anthony Bourdain’s favorite spots for a stiff drink and it still sports the neon lights installed for an episode of Miami Vice. The crowd is unpredictable—curious tourists, overworked locals and the random celebs can each all be found sidled up to the curvy pink bar.