Settle down for cocktails at Gramps | Courtesy of Good Exposure
Though the Caribbean and Cuban influences give the city of Miami a more leisurely vibe, the vibrant nightlife scene balances an easy-going feel with a palpable electric feeling.
Miami’s bar scene offers everything from the sounds of Latin music and the pink South Beach palette to waterfront opulence. Whether you want to chill out on a rooftop overlooking Biscayne Bay or fancy somewhere a little more divey, this list covers the best bars in Miami.
Bar, Nightclub, American, $$$
Courtesy of Good Exposure
To try and categorize this Wynwood staple would be a disservice to its offbeat, campy aesthetic. The interior has a divey feel despite its modern, industrial-style bar top and nostalgic arcade wall. Step outside on the patio to sit at psychedelic tables underneath a canopy of trees that are colorfully lit upon sunset. The drinks are strong, and its events run the gamut from trendy to queer. It even makes pizza on-site for your drunken cheese cravings. Many gravitate towards the margaritas, but you must try the rum old-fashioned, crackling with black pepper syrup.
This West Miami dive bar takes you away from the trendiness and lavish bar tabs you might accumulate downtown or by the beach. Wood paneling throughout swallows the nautical-themed decor, but the true charm of the space lies in the fact that it’s the kind of place where everyone knows everyone, even newcomers. Also, patrons are enthusiastically supportive to the daring few who partake in the Thursday and Saturday karaoke nights. You will need cash if you want to enjoy the cheap drinks here.
South Beach is certainly known for its high price tags, but it’s garnered a very specific reputation in recent years thanks to an influx of affluent, hardcore partiers. To get a taste of the upscale South Beach of yesteryear without succumbing to the noisy streets by the bay, the Rose Bar offers a gentle ambience and stiff drinks. By being inside the Delano Hotel, it’s harder for any riff-raff to stumble in and ruin your $20 cocktail. While this price point may make some balk, the ingredients are top-shelf, as evidenced in the royal blush cocktail’s Brugal rum, Chandon brut and fresh raspberries and lemon.
Freehand combines the luxury of hotels and the community mindset of a hostel in its four locations, all of which have a Broken Shaker. This particular one, true to its locale, rides the line between a posh Miami Beach environment and a Surfside aesthetic. With canopied patios and poolside drinks until 5pm, Broken Shaker manages to capture Miami in its atmosphere as well as in its rotating monthly and seasonal cocktails.
Brick remains a Wynwood favorite, often drawing lines around the block on weekends and Art Walk nights. It’s a bar that celebrates dancing yet keeps the atmosphere relaxed enough that you wouldn’t call it a club. With indoor and outdoor spaces, it gives you plenty of room to bust a move while sipping a craft beer or two. For cocktails, a bar will rarely throw velvet falernum into a signature drink, but the blend of cognac and citrus makes Brick’s The Good Life as approachable as it is intriguing. No air conditioning may seem like an oversight at an outdoor Miami bar, but powerful fans on the veranda and on the patio work hard so you can boogie hard.
Bar, Restaurant, Cocktails, American, Pub Grub, $$$
The Anderson offers guests two highly Instagrammable bars for the price of one, starting with a leopard-print entryway wall. The main, 1980s-themed bar offers cozy booths, low lighting and a few arcade games. The magazine-like menu holds lengthy descriptions for humorously titled cocktails like Don’t Call Me Shirley – an exotic blend of spiced rum, tamarind, hibiscus and citrus. Outside, a tent draped in vines covers a line of tables next to a sandy patio that leads to a speakeasy beach shack with tequila- and rum-heavy options. The drinks are on the expensive side, and the local parking situation mandates a $10 valet. However, heading here during the 6pm-9pm happy hour should take the edge off.
Though situated in Miami’s Cuban haven, Little Havana, Los Altos actually resides above Taquerias El Mexicano on the iconic Calle Ocho. The Mexican theme continues in its mezcal-forward menu, tantalizing margaritas and go-go dancers wearing sugar skull make-up. Anyone can get two-for-one margaritas (and beers) on Thursdays and Fridays from when the bar opens until 8pm, plus ladies get free margaritas from 8pm-10pm on Thursdays. Plush couches and booths await you after you’ve danced your heart out, and the taqueria closes at 1am on weekends for a late-night burrito fix.
This favorite Brickell haunt can get packed, but its two bars and swift bartenders ensure you won’t have to wait too long for a drink that uses fresh herbs from its massive garden wall. Its happy hour (3pm-8pm on weekdays) offers buy-one-get-one-free specials. The namesake Blackbird cocktail is basically a Trojan horse: a raspberry arnold palmer hiding sweet tea vodka, so drink cautiously. ‘Closing Time’ won’t start playing until 5am, but the DJs usually switch from classic grooves to modern hits around 10pm. The back patio, where most of the dancing happens, has a clear, domed roof, so you get that outdoor vibe along with the luxury of air conditioning.
MO Bar is the kind of tasteful lounge you frequent for a relaxed ambience and high-class service. From the main bar area to window-side tables, you can create cozy enclaves for up to four people, and the only time you might lightly struggle to hear your friends is on a Friday or Saturday night when sultry, live music will either inspire you to rumba or to sink further into your velvet armchair. A prominent feature in Brickell Key’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the spacious lounge offers incredible views of the Miami skyline, and with a daily “social” hour from 5pm-8pm, you can catch a colorful sunset without spending more than $10 for a drink. Try a neighborhood drink such as the Hialeah Beach, with aged rum, pineapple marmalade, allspice, lime and honey.
Kaido has an equally impressive restaurant, but the cocktail lounge combo is reminiscent of elite dining spaces in Las Vegas. Opulence overwhelms the senses thanks to gilded section separators, leather and marble accents and contrasting sharp and curved ceiling fixtures that belong in a modern art museum. Nestled in Miami’s Design District, this upscale lounge puts a Japanese twist on classic cocktails while providing original elixirs as well. The jasmine gimlet uses lemongrass shochu and jasmine cordial instead of the traditional gin and lime juice. For an even more intimate evening, head back to its aquatic-themed speakeasy, AMA.