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The best bars in Miami for all the right vibes

Rooftops, dives, wine gardens and waterfront watering holes all feature on our list of the best bars in Miami.

Falyn Wood
Virginia Gil
Written by
Falyn Wood
Contributor
Virginia Gil
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Everyone’s out here scrambling to book a seat at Miami’s best restaurants now that the Michelin Guide has finally deemed our town worthy of its distinctions. But we’re here to remind you that the Magic City is also home to a flourishing bar scene, with innovative, understated and outright amazing bars in Miami proliferating right in stride with the city’s culinary renaissance.

No matter the neighborhood or the mood, chances are there’s a fantastic watering hole (or five) nearby ready to serve up amazing cocktails and even better vibes. From trendy Miami wine bars and hidden-away cocktail dens to relaxed waterfront gems and quintessential dives, you really can’t go wrong at any of Miami’s best bars.

Time Out Market Miami
  • Restaurants
  • South Beach

Imagine a bar where the city’s top tipples flow, you never have to fight for a seat at the counter, and you don’t have to take out a loan to pay for your martini just because you’re in South Beach. (Read: The cocktails are cheap!) It’s all a reality at Time Out Market Miami, our roomy, well-appointed spot that features a curated menu of delicious drinks handpicked by the editors to represent Miami’s ever-growing cocktail culture.

Drink this: Fro-Rita

Best bars in Miami

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Downtown
  • price 3 of 4

It’s worth the search to find this sleek cocktail bar at the bottom of the residential building X Miami. Helmed by bartender Will Thompson and chef Carey Hynes (Momofuku, Per Se), the petite, dimly lit Downtown staple offers a unique selection of small batches and artisanal spirits in an unpretentious, lively setting. Pair your perfectly balanced cocktail with one of chef’s excellent house-made pastas or an order of melt-in-your-mouth Parker House Rolls served with a generous side of honey butter.

Drink this: Green Ghoul

  • Restaurants
  • Caf茅s
  • East Little Havana
  • price 2 of 4

This nostalgia-soaked Cuban spot in Little Havana placed 28th on the World's 50 Best Bars’ 2021 list. Decorated cantinero Julio Cabrera mans the bar, slinging stiff, rum-based drinks and handcrafted mojitos that no one can resist. One of those rare places that attract locals and tourists alike, La Trova provides an electric atmosphere, live music and drink prices that won’t send you home broke. Bonus: It’s two bars in one! On Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant’s backroom turns into a neon-tinged, ’80s-themed party starting at midnight.

Drink this: Daquirí Clásico

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Miami Beach
  • price 3 of 4

This is the bar that showed Miami just how wonderful craft cocktails can be. Started by consulting agency Bar Lab, the tropical spot operates at the Freehand Miami Beach. Shaded by palm trees, bordered by a pool and flush with refreshing umbrella drinks, it’s the kind of place that’s recommended by travel guides for a taste of the laid-back Miami lifestyle. Seasonally driven beverages are what make the Shaker shine, while oversize punch bowls keep it a favorite for groups.

Drink this: Mack’s Fault

  • Bars
  • Gastropubs
  • Downtown
  • price 1 of 4

A funky ode to Florida, Over Under honors our great weird state with locally inspired food and an eclectic design that’s punctuated by quirky thrift-store finds. Co-owner Brian Griffiths is a Broken Shaker alum and a vanguard of the local cocktail scene, keeping things current with cleverly named concoctions and refreshing sippers, such as the frozen Paloma with your choice of a floater. Do keep the reusable cup and straw—they’re thermochromic and way better looking than the Flanigan’s cups you usually hoard.

Drink this: Muscle Relaxer (Levels 1–4)

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  • Bars
  • South Beach
  • price 2 of 4

Ranked on the World’s 100 Best Bars’ 2021 list, Sweet Liberty has the rare distinction of being a local spot, an industry hangout and a tourist fave. There’s something for everyone in the spacious bar, whether it’s an elegant $17 martini, 95¢ oysters and $7 rose虂 at happy hour or a beer and a shot after midnight. It’s a family affair, as most of the friendly staff has been around since Day One, and there’s always some kind of live music on the weekends to get you on your feet. Like the neon PURSUE HAPPINESS sign that hangs on the wall—the maxim of the bar’s late co-owner, John Lermayer—Sweet Liberty is always a good time.

Drink this: Our Piña Colada

  • Bars
  • Wineries
  • Midtown
  • price 1 of 4

This beer-and-wine bar’s live jazz, warm bistro lighting and clashing furnishings will charm your socks off, if the convenience of drinking here doesn’t do you in first. Roll deep with no concern for seating or check drama: Tables are first come, first served, and you pay your bill up front at the counter when you order. Couples, head to the inside area for some privacy, live music and the booze fridge. Are you with your crew and need more room? Make a beeline for the large, ramshackle yard, where you can spread out for a lively convo.

Order this: Chilled rosé

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The stunning, emerald-green bar at the Four Seasons in Surfside unapologetically embraces the finer things in life, like gilded bellini carts and expertly mixed cocktails that will set you back at least one Jackson. Not many places give such attention to detail, and everything that hits the glass has been crafted in-house, from the juices and the syrups to the bitters and the tinctures. Cheers to the good life—and the Taco Bell you’ll be eating all week to pay for your round of drinks at this truly sublime place.

Drink this: Negroni

  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • Wynwood
  • price 2 of 4

At Gramps, people from all walks of life congregate over the city’s best Moscow Mule. The Wynwood mainstay remains a favorite partly for its never-ending string of programming: Go for a killer drag showcase, go big on karaoke night or test your knowledge at trivia. Check their Insta for announcements about touring bands coming through, along with flea markets, comedy shows, political gatherings and more.

Drink this: Cucumber in Paradise

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  • Bars
  • Tapas bars
  • Park West
  • price 2 of 4

An unlikely proposition in downtown’s 24-hour club district, The Corner somehow holds its own against E11EVEN and the other neighboring giants. The dark, smoky space is meant for folks who’d rather sip a craft beer or cocktail huddled at one of its wooden bistro tables than drop cash on bottle service. So, save your money and enjoy the free Tuesday night jazz and discounted drinks during the 4–8pm weekday happy hour or put your loot toward one of the many killer pop-up eateries they’ve been hosting lately.

Drink this: An ice-cold IPA

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • South Beach
  • price 2 of 4

Tucked away down a short staircase that’s off the Stiles Hotel lobby, Swizzle thrives in a quiet, sexy space away from noisy Collins Avenue. Evoking the feel of a small wooden pirate ship, the dark, narrow room is lined with more than 150 rums. Want to get two, maybe three sheets to the wind? Be warned: The beautiful, smooth-tasting cocktails are highly potent. Cozy up with your main squeeze at the tiny bar or nab some nearby high-tops for your girls’ night out.

Drink this: Mamey Swizzle

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Downtown
  • price 2 of 4

Decked out in Americana, this saloon’s atmosphere is casual and sporty, but the beverage program is working overtime, proffering microbrews, craft cocktails and rare spirits. Drink up over a game of darts or pool, then relax on one of the mismatched chairs that surround the ornamental upright piano. It’s a snug, vintage vibe with better gin-and-tonics than you could ever mix up in your living room.

Drink this: Penicillin

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Wynwood
  • price 2 of 4

If you’re looking for Miami’s first all-vinyl listening bar, just follow the sound of the music (it’s piped from a speaker mounted above a nondescript door). Hidden away in the courtyard of an off-the-beaten-track Wynwood strip, book a table at this intimate 50-seat venue where the soundtrack is just as important as the sips. Drawing inspiration from the listening bars of Japan, Dante’s boasts a state-of-the-art sound system and a growing collection of nearly 8,500 vinyl records curated by resident DJ and musical director Rich Medina.

Drink this: A whiskey highball

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • North Miami
  • price 1 of 4

By night, Paradis transforms from a quaint cafe into one of the city’s best wine bars. Make your selections from shelves stocked with dozens of well-priced natural and organic varietals, cork them at the register and enjoy them outside. Mosaic-tiled tables are scattered beneath moody bistro lighting among a garden from which Paradis sources ingredients for its rotating menu of pizzas. Regular programming at this beloved North Miami spot includes movie screenings, wine tastings, vinyl DJs and more.

Drink this: Whatever pairs perfectly with the night’s pizza special (don’t be afraid to ask for a recco)

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Midtown
  • price 2 of 4

This cozy, unassuming hodgepodge of vintage couches and retro Florida accents could’ve been a Golden Girls set. It's no surprise then that drinking at the Sylvester feels like you’re hanging at the house of a buddy with excellent mixology skills and a penchant for tropical wallpaper. Case in point: Don’t spill anything on the furniture. Pass the time playing pool, poking around the pinball machine or, if it’s late enough, dancing.

Drink this: Vaxxed & Waxxxed

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  • Bars
  • South Beach
  • price 1 of 4

Anthony Bourdain claimed this iconic dive as his ultimate Miami retreat, and he’s not alone. After more than 50 years in the business, this South Beach institution still packs in the locals with an impossible-to-beat BOGO happy hour that runs every day from 8am (seriously) to 7pm. You’ll want to bring cash to the no-frills spot, where smoking is still allowed but credit cards are not.

Drink this: Pabst Blue Ribbon

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Downtown
  • price 2 of 4

Decked out in mirrors and disco balls, this carpeted nightclub with a star-strewn ceiling feels out of place in grungy Downtown. But some might say it’s given the neighborhood a taste of what it’s been missing: a place to dance, a bar that stays open late and a one-stop nightlife destination for people starting their evening with a solid cocktail or ending their night with a shot and a game of pool.

Drink this: Porn Star Martini

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  • Things to do
  • Event spaces
  • Wynwood

A genius idea that should’ve happened a long time ago, Freehold offers all of the comforts and coziness of a hotel without any of the rooms. If you’ve ever fallen hard for a hotel bar, you’ll understand the appeal here. There’s nothing like the Freehold, with its large courtyard designed to look like the non-hotel’s "pool." It’s here, under the glow of a giant disco ball, where you’ll want to gather with friends to share one of Freehold’s legendary punch bowls filled with whatever boozy concoction your heart desires.

Drink this: Espresso martini

Off Site is a minimalistic nanobrewery in Little River where the menu offerings are few but what does make it into your mouth is always fantastic. From the drinks to the food (do not sleep on the corn dogs), you’ll find nearly everything at Off Site is house-made—and what’s not has been impeccably curated to make you happy. A brewpub for chill locals and industry folks, Off Site also hosts wine tastings, live music and pop-ups from some of the city’s best.

Drink this: Super Good Lager

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • price 2 of 4

The recently expanded Anderson holds it down with a seasonally rotating menu, multiple themed spots to hang both indoors and out, free live jazz on Sunday nights and an incomparable Brooklyn-meets-Vegas aesthetic in full effect. For a little Mexican flair, the El Toro Taco truck out back is ready to take your order, and the weekday 5–8pm happy hour boasts half-off all drinks. Sounds like the ideal dinner to us.

Drink this: El Paloma

  • Bars
  • East Little Havana
  • price 2 of 4

Today’s Ball & Chain on Calle Ocho recreates a 1930s hotspot that once occupied the same space and welcomed jazz superstars like Billie Holiday, Count Basie and Chet Baker to its stage. With a beverage program created by the top mixologists at the Regent Cocktail Club, daily live music, salsa dance lessons and a storied outdoor stage in the shape of a giant pineapple, Ball & Chain makes for a lively night out no matter the occasion.

Drink this: Mojito

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  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • West Coconut Grove
  • price 1 of 4

In a small sea of college dives and upscale gastrobars, the Taurus stands out. This cool little whiskey joint in Coconut Grove serves an extensive selection of scotches, bourbons and all sorts of caramel-colored spirits—ranging in flavor from smooth to put-hair-on-your-chest strong. They also have a wide selection of beers on tap and bottled, plus a large outdoor patio and one of the best burgers in town.

Drink this: Dealer’s choice

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • South Beach
  • price 3 of 4

Find this quiet speakeasy by weaving your way through the ground floor of Española Way’s stunning new boutique hotel, the Esmé Miami Beach. Like the rest of the hotel, El Salón’s attention to detail has a transportive effect. Plush booth seating, ceramic tile, natural stone countertops and wooded ceilings make this cocktail bar the ideal spot for an intimate date or decadent nightcap. El Salón also creates its own nuanced spirit blends and serves up an extensive list of simple, refined cocktails from its tiny bar.

Drink this: Rose Vesper

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What’s a better antidote to our post-quarantine social anxiety than a disco ball-strewn, television-themed gay lounge? Long, narrow and delightfully kitsch, Nathan’s boasts six themed mini table sections along with limited patio seating. But you and your friends will most likely spend the night rubbing up against fellow cuties in the tight space in between the bar and the booths, which definitely passes as a dancefloor in our book.

Drink this: Tequila soda

  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Downtown
  • price 2 of 4

Miami needs more wine bars and Margot hits the spot with nearly 100 labels of the natural stuff. We’re talking low-intervention varietals, organic vinos and wines sourced from small producers. Basically, everything in this bi-level wine nook is a delight to drink. It’s an overwhelming menu but there’s always an eager somm ready to guide you on your natural wine journey. On the flip side, the food selection is small but tightly edited to better serve your experience. Go for one of the cheeses and a crudo, and wing it.

Drink this: Any of the chilled reds

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Omni
  • price 2 of 4

Daniele Dalla Pola’s ground-floor drinking den is a jungle of banana-plant wallpaper strewn with neon signs and kooky glassware (check out the hallowed Elvis drinking vessels, vintage tiki mugs and random Hawaiian knickknacks displayed in the towering glass case). Pola’s enthusiasm for tiki culture is contagious, and he’s been collecting for decades. On your first visit, he’ll have you sipping Polynesian-style rum drinks with as much zeal as he puts into making them. Thanks to a long list of monumental cocktails and boozy punches, it’s a fun spot for, say, a birthday party.

Drink this: Volcano Bowl

  • Restaurants
  • Spanish
  • South Beach
  • price 2 of 4

If there’s anyone who could help turn SoBe’s sleepy Española Way into an alluring destination for locals, it’s the team behind Lost Boy. The Andalusian food at Tropezón is great, but the beautiful, gin-forward bar looks like it was plucked off the Mediterranean coast and totally stands on its own. Tucked in the back of the space, we’re partial to the sherry bar, an intimate countertop for sipping fortified wine from a delicate glass while noshing on melt-in-your-mouth slices of serrano ham.

Drink this: Blue Matcha Yuzu G&T

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  • Bars
  • Little Haiti / Lemon City
  • price 2 of 4

The team behind Downtown's cheeky, dive-adjacent watering hole Over Under brings their irreverence and penchant for deceptively stiff frozen cocktails to Little River in the form of Low Key. The laidback outdoor bar channels the chiller vibes of Lower Florida, serving up solid food, tropical cocktails, natural wine and ice-cold beer. Crowds gather here for weekly programming like live music, dinner pop-ups, flea markets and inclusive speed dating nights.

 Drink this: Frozen piña colada with a floater

  • Things to do
  • Event spaces
  • Wynwood
  • price 2 of 4

Out of all the Miami food halls, Wynwood's 1-800-Lucky definitely turns up the loudest. Chinese barbecue and fish-shaped ice cream cones are far from the biggest draws at this 10,000-square-foot Asian marketplace-themed concept. In addition to a private karaoke room and onsite convenience store with basic gas station needs like cigarettes and Red Bull, Lucky's patio bar plays host to big-name DJs, high-key ladies' nights and more.

Drink this: Tropical kiss

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  • Nightlife
  • Alternative nightlife
  • Little River

Taking over the former Center for Subtropical Affairs space, Understory is a bar, music venue and urban garden located in Little River. It hosts eclectic live performances and cultural programming like jazz nights and figure-drawing classes from Thursday through Saturday, plus bigger ticketed events, rotating food and beverage concepts and a pop-up dinner series all curated by the Jaguar Sun team.

Drink this: A glass (or bottle) of natural wine from NIU Wine's Bad Seed pop-up bar. 

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • East Little Havana
  • price 2 of 4

This breezy Little Havana rooftop perched at the Lifehouse Hotel offers one of the best zoomed-out views of Miami’s sprawling skyline. For picture-perfect sunset cocktails and bites, get cozy among the twinkling bistro lights, oversize umbrellas and couch set-ups scattered about the lush, bohemian digs. Check out Terras’ herb garden while you’re up there. All kinds of veggies and herbs are grown and plucked to flavor cocktails and for the many plant-based dishes on the menu.

Drink this: Guavaloma

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Brickell Key
  • price 4 of 4

An elegant waterfront offering in Brickell Key where the bartenders really know their stuff, MO Bar at the Mandarin Oriental caters to the glamorous set and boasts one of the best panoramic skyline views in the city. For a livelier atmosphere, stop in on a Saturday, when MO Bar hosts live music. It’s one of those iconic Miami spots that always delivers on a special occasion.

Drink this: A glass of champagne

Located inside Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, the Cleat is the blissfully laidback yet chic waterfront bar Key Biscayne was missing. Whether you’re stationed at the gorgeous terrazzo bar or slung back on an Adirondack chair with your toes in the sand, every seat is the best seat in the house to enjoy panoramic ocean views with your ice-cold drink, especially during sunset. Though there is limited covered seating, the entire place is outdoors, so do mind the weather if you’re making a trek out to the Cleat.

Drink this: Piña colada

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  • Things to do
  • Midtown

Ideal for a night out with a large group, this indoor/outdoor bar, club, music venue and food hall in the middle of Wynwood contains multiple areas to dance, lounge, grab drinks or grub and vibe out. Check the events schedule for weekends and late nights, when the Oasis can get swarmed. DJs like Tiesto and Honey Dijon have already graced the stage, and Travis Scott hosted his Rolling Loud after-party here.

Drink this: Spiked agua de coco

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