Florida Bars & Nightlife
Bars & Nightlife city
Bodega Taqueria y Tequila
1220 16 St., South Beach
The street-facing half of Bodega is a busy taco joint set up like a tricked-out auto garage with bright graffiti splashes and neon barstools. At the otherwise unassuming back door (which looks like the exterior of a Porta-Potty), you’ll see a bouncer occasionally motioning waiting guests into the speakeasy behind it, which has an entirely different feel. Dark and swanky, the space is set up with a wood bar that stretches the length of the bottom floor and plush couches that create pocket lounge areas for a full, buzzing crowd (that skews young). A winding staircase leads to an upper lounge that's perched above the bar.
437 SW 2nd St., Little Havana
It's tucked into the Roam Miami space, but don’t dismiss Casa Florida as another hipster bar set inside an old truck. Yes, it is in fact set up inside a revamped yet delightfully retro trailer, but this is not a kitschy, trendy gimmick. With room for only about ten people, Casa Florida is a bar for people who take the quality of their cocktails seriously, want to lounge on a beautifully upholstered sofa, and plan to stay for the evening.
176 NW 24 St., Wynwood
This great little Wynwood bar, which famously opened with gator wrestling during Art Basel, somehow manages to feel all-in Miami without offering a hint of South Beach. Part of the formula has to do with owner Adam Gersten, a native Miamian with an excellent sense of humor who named the place after his grandfather. There's live music on a stage in the back most nights, and we recommend arriving a little early so you can skip the line and play bocce on the patio before it gets dark out. Check out the tables in the booths, which feature collages by local creatives under a layer of epoxy.
1701 Collins Ave., Mid-Beach
This Philippe Starck–designed club in the SLS has ridiculously good food and cocktails courtesy of José Andrés and Katsuya Uechi, which is a big part of the reason it's the place to go when you're in the mood for a rowdy, full-on South Beach pool party situation. Located inside the SLS hotel, you'll find beach access, a live DJ, and plenty of bright, striped cabanas and lounge chairs. Check the schedule in advance, since lines can get long (and covers can get expensive) when they have a big DJ on-site.
J. Wakefield Brewing
120 NW 24th St., Wynwood
Jonathan Wakefield went from tinkering around with a home-brewing kit to making some of the best craft beer in the world. A Crowdbrewed campaign led this quirky brewery in the Wynwood district. Floor-to-ceiling comic-inspired murals, heavy on the Star Wars references, cover the walls, and the fermentation tanks are named for planets in the galaxy (by which we mean the Star Wars galaxy). Wakefield excels at Berliner Weisse–style beers—cloudy, sour, and very wheaty. His Miami Madness, made a little sweet with mango, guava, and passionfruit, is the pint to order.
1111 Lincoln Rd., South Beach
Juvia is located at the top of the Swiss-designed Herzog & de Meuron Lincoln Road parking garage, which sits at the east end of Miami’s popular pedestrian-only shopping stretch. The kitchen here is run by two stellar chefs: Sunny Oh (who spent a decade at Nobu), and Gregory Gourreau (who worked with Alain Ducasse and François Payard, and now runs the pastry program). It’s a pricier menu—that comes with a fabulous, sweeping view of the city, made for celebratory-feeling cocktails. Try the refreshing Cucumis—tequila with cucumber, lime, and a hibiscus salt rim.
9700 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour
Stephen Starr has been opening Miami restaurants at a rapid-fire pace, and one of our favorites by far is the sunny, colorfully decorated Le Zoo in Bal Harbour. There's a lovely French-inspired menu, but we come for the gorgeous (and beautifully designed) drink list, which includes carefully selected wine and beer, plus a few tasteful, straightforward cocktails. It's the perfect place to stop in for a glass of wine or an Aperol Spritz to break up a day of window-shopping at Bal Harbour's pristine boutiques.
Martini Bar at the Raleigh (Closed)
1775 Collins Ave., Mid-Beach
Hidden inside the Raleigh Hotel, the Martini Bar has been a Miami staple for more than seventy years. The old-school mahogany bar (backdropped with every bottle imaginable) is staffed with some of the city's best bartenders, who specialize in cocktails made with super fresh ingredients, like the Russian Spring Punch, a vodka drink made with raspberries and lemon juice syrup, or the Never Say Never, a rum drink with strawberry, mint, and basil. Needless to say, an extra-dirty martini is still the order of choice.
No. 3 Social
50 NW 24th St. Rooftop, Wynwood
No. 3 Social is the only rooftop bar in Wynwood, which makes it a destination unto itself—and a favorite among locals. There’s no way to describe the interior other than loud, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Fuchsia velvet seating, a turquoise tiled bar, and rattan shades suspended above—but somehow it all works. Just like the drinks. In a truly Miami move, the Beauty Secret cocktail is infused with collagen and blueberry extract for its antioxidant properties. Thursday through Sunday, a solid music program makes the deck festive and lively. And the light, tropical bar snacks—zesty ceviche and conch fritters, for example—will keep you in your (bright pink) seat late into the night.
237 20th St., Suite B, South Beach
Despite Sweet Liberty's being ranked one of the best bars in the world, locals actually drink here, and tourists, for the most part, do not. The space is a little too big to feel intimate, and the best seats are at the bar. No matter how well-versed you are, you can’t help but be impressed by the selection of premium spirits, and watching the mixologists at work is true theater. Come for happy hour: The drinks are, of course, excellent, and the fresh oysters (under $1 each) go down just as easy. The rest of the bar menu is all tasty, salty bites that pair so well with the drinks—the swordfish tacos with mango pico and Asian-style tater tots with crunchy seaweed and sesame are the standouts.
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