Whether it’s a sophisticated cocktail bar, a live jazz hangout or an outrageous drag act you’re after, this guide to Miami nightlife will have you hitting the town like a seasoned pro.
Early evening cocktails
Bar, Cocktail Bar, American, $$$
Broken Shaker came to life as a modest pop-up cocktail bar. But, thanks to its huge success on the road, it soon became something a little more permanent: it’s now Freehand’s staple hotel bar. Inside the Miami edition, dark wood, low lighting and mixologists clad in flat caps and braces give this tiny backyard bar a 1920s speakeasy feel. Go outside and you’ll be transported to a fairy-lit, lush green open space that feels more like a friend’s backyard party than a Miami Beach cocktail bar. The award-winning drink menu changes regularly depending on seasonal ingredients, with each elixir, syrup and infusion made by hand on-site with garden herbs and spices. If you’re a group of six or more, call ahead to book a table.
Drink (and get the Instagram shot) in style at Bar Bevy in the Design District
Pharrell Williams is the owner of this gorgeous, design-conscious bar, a perfect fit for the stylish Design District neighborhood. Bar Bevy’s crushed velvet futons, Moroccan-style wooden lattice tables, and a luxurious palette of deep teal, purples and golds make for an Instagrammer’s dream. The cocktail menu includes divine concoctions including elderflower liquor mixed with watermelon, basil honey, rosemary and black pepper, and silver tequila infused with sweet Sauternes wine and orange marmalade. Grab Italian bites prepared by Top Chef season three winner, Jean Imbert, at the pink-hued Swan restaurant below.
Mojitos and salsa music liven up the dance floor at Hoy Como Ayer
Since 52% of Miami’s population is of Cuban heritage, it means that dancing to live salsa and drinking ice-cold mojitos is not only easy, but a compulsory part of the Miami experience. Hoy Como Ayer – Little Havana’s favorite live music spot – is where the city’s best Latin-Funk musicians come to perform their hip-shaking beats to a fun, salsa-loving crowd. Low dark-wood ceilings, walls draped in black-and-white Latin icon portraits and a fiercely Cuban food menu give this intimate dive bar an authentic Latin feel found nowhere else in Florida. For a schedule of music events, check out their Facebook page.
This one is for the jazz fans. Taking inspiration from the famed New Orleans wine bar, Lagniappe puts on a nightly al-fresco schedule of jazz, folk, blues and soul bands in their homey, fairy-lit backyard. The emphasis here is on keeping it casual: pick up a bottle of wine from the cooler and pay later; kick back on a worn-out vintage sofa in the garden; or, share an Italian cold cuts platter with strangers under a lush banana tree. Think of it as going to a friend’s house for a glass of wine, only your friend happens to know some of the best jazz musicians in Miami – and has one of the coolest backyards in Midtown.
Every nightclub has a dance floor, but this one also has a bowling alley and a skating rink. Thursday through Saturday, Basement has four technicolored, ’80s disco-style bowling lanes to avoid the gutters on, as well as a 2,000-square-foot (186sqm) ice rink for you to give your best Kristi Yamaguchi to hip hop and house beats. Bowling and skating aside, the giant dance floor (brought to life with glittering disco balls, neon lights and world-famous DJ sets) is quickly becoming Miami Beach‘s hottest place to party.
Staying true to its name, Do Not Sit prides itself on keeping guests on their feet all night long with some of the most talented and well-known DJs in Miami. The vibe in this underground hangout is all about intimacy: low lighting, velvet-red booths made for sharing, and a dance floor smaller and cozier than most Miami clubs create the perfect atmosphere for getting to know your fellow party-goers. Although the decor – enormous chandeliers, vintage cassette tapes dangling from the walls, and a black, gold and red color scheme – screams Great Gatsby, you won’t find any jazz here: think heart-thumping house and electro sets spun by the likes of Will Renuart and Behrouz. The best part? Rebelling against the exclusivity of Miami’s club scene, you won’t need to be a VIP, dress fancy or drop $100 on a bottle of Grey Goose to fit in here.
Bar, LGBTQ Bar, Cocktails, Wine, Beer, Fast Food, $$$
Although we usually don’t recommend dining or drinking along Ocean Drive, we’ll make an exception for Palace. This oceanfront restaurant and bar is Miami’s – and perhaps the world’s – best drag brunch and dinner show. A reservation at this iconic South Beach party comes with bottomless mimosas and curbside performances from the biggest names in Drag: think Latrice Royale doing the splits on the sidewalk to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” It’s glittery, it’s fabulous and it’s the epitome of Miami nightlife. If you want a guaranteed table, be sure to book ahead. You can check their weekly event schedule on their website.
Located in one of the most queer-populated neighborhoods in Florida, it’s worth making the journey up north to Fort Lauderdale for a night of glitz and glamour at The Manor. This place is huge in every way: spread out over two levels, Wilton Manors’ favorite megaclub includes a dance floor fit for a queen (or a kween), a performance stage frequented by the likes of drag icon Bianca del Rio, and an events space with chill-out lounge that boasts Miami’s most flamboyant decor. Even the sound and lighting system here rivals all of South Beach’s biggest clubs. Expect a night filled with smoke machines, light shows and beautifully sculpted men in bunny ears and bondage. What more could you want?
Famous DJs regularly spin at LIV nightclub in Miami, where you can party ’til the wee hours
People say you haven’t really partied in Miami until you’ve done an all-nighter at LIV – and they’re probably right. Taking up 18,000 square feet (1,672sqm) of the ultra-exclusive Fontainebleau Resort, this two-story megaclub has hosted names such as Justin Beiber, Skrillex and Lil Wayne – all in one weekend. The guest list is no less impressive: Bill Gates, Kim Kardashian and Calvin Harris are just some of the stars you could be rubbing shoulders with here. Killer line-ups and top-tier guest lists aside, the club itself is jaw-dropping: a huge dome ceiling (kitted out with over 400 LED panels for their nightly choreographed light shows), 360-degree views of an always jam-packed, confetti-covered dance floor, and decadent VIP lounges line the DJ booth. Lounges are often decorated with $100,000 Ace of Spade champagne bottles to leave an impression on even the most seasoned party-goers. This is one of Miami’s most exclusive clubs, so look sharp if you want to get past the bouncers – and come prepared to drop a startling amount of cash on a round of drinks here.
Part-nightclub, part-circus and part-strip club, E11EVEN describes itself as not just a place to party, but as a fully “immersive” experience. This 24-hour, seven-days-a-week megaclub in Downtown Miami keeps hardcore party animals entertained day and night with high-flying acrobatics, topless dancers, LED light shows, big-name DJ sets and an all-day carving station buffet. After a night of pole dancing (the pole lowers down to the dance floor for those who fancy competing with E11EVEN’s resident dancers), you can indulge in trapezes, steak sandwiches, or order a breakfast burrito and mimosa at the rooftop restaurant for sunrise as a traditional Miami rite of passage. The best part? While E11EVEN is no stranger to a celebrity guestlist (Miley Cyrus and Kylie Jenner were spotted here, among other big names), it seems they’re a little more relaxed on who they let through their velvet ropes. Still, it’s a good idea to dress smart.