In the last few years, the craft-cocktail craze has inspirited a new, much-needed wave of bars in Miami Beach. Sure, overpriced and overhyped neon-blue slushy drinks with cheap vodka are inevitable. But today, Collins Avenue brims with a new generation of savvy, classy, and smart watering holes.
From decades-long mainstays like Purdy Lounge and Mac's Club Deuce, to more modern concepts like New York City-import Employees Only, Miami-made Broken Shaker, and all-in-one arcade, bar, and pizza joint Ricky's, these are Miami Beach's ten best bars.
1. Employees Only. Award-winning New York City bar Employees Only expanded to Miami Beach in February 2017, giving Washington Avenue a lineup of Prohibition-style drinks, upscale bar food, and an in-house psychic — handy in case you can't decide what cocktail to choose. The bar first opened in New York City's West Village in 2004 and quickly garnered numerous accolades, including World's Best Bar at Tales of the Cocktail's 2011 Spirited Awards. In Miami, find it inside a vintage coral-rock house on the grounds of the Washington Park Hotel. Most cocktails are priced at $14, including the Billionaire, made with Bakers' bourbon, lemon juice, EO grenadine, and absinthe bitters; and the Mata Hari, with Rémy Martin 1738, chai-infused Martini Rosso, and pomegranate. In terms of food, opt for hand-cut steak tartare prepared tableside ($18); pappardelle with zucchini, lemon, chili, and parmesan ($17); and flourless chocolate cake ($10). 1030 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 786-264-3945; employeesonlymiami.com. 9 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. daily.
Courtesy of Employees Only
2. The Broken Shaker. What started as a pop-up bar in 2012 has flourished, becoming one of the most popular spots in Miami Beach. At the Freehand, this backyard oasis, equipped with twinkling lights, ping-pong tables, and mismatched patio furniture, is stocked with a roster of ever-changing cocktails ($12-$13) that rotate according to season and available fresh ingredients. Curb your hunger with bites like artichoke fries with spicy herbed yogurt ($8), fish tacos topped with mojo crema ($12), and a double cheeseburger with Miami Smokers bacon on Zak the Baker bread ($13). Helmed by Bar Lab's Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi, the Broken Shaker has racked up a number of awards, including Best American Hotel Bar at Tales of the Cocktail's Spirited Awards. 2727 Indian Creek Dr., Miami Beach; 786-325-8974; freehandhotels.com. 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday, 1 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday.
Photo by Adrian Goat / Courtesy of the Freehand
3. Sweet Liberty. Though billed as a neighborhood cocktail bar, Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply is much more than your typical Cheers establishment. For one thing, there's a powerhouse team behind the concept. Restaurateur David Martinez, Blackbird Ordinary's Dan Binkiewicz, and world-class bartender John Lermayer have combined forces, giving customers well-made drinks and solid bar food in a relaxed setting. Cocktails ($12-$13) range from the Air Mail, made with rum, lime, honey, and bubbles, to the Pink Chihuahua, blended with Tequila Ocho, almond, lime, pomegrenade, and egg white. Food includes tuna poke ($18), beet deviled eggs ($7), and cauliflower nachos smothered in cheesy sauce and avocado. Since opening in 2015, the bar has gained recognition from Tales of the Cocktail's Spirited Awards as the Best American High-Volume Cocktail Bar (only awarded to a bar with seating capacity of 100 or more) and was the only Florida bar to make Playboy's 2016 roundup of the best bars in America. 237-B 20th St., Miami Beach; 305-763-8217; mysweetliberty.com. 4 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 a.m. Sunday.
4. Ricky's. This all-in-one bar, pizza joint, and arcade on 16th Street is the latest concept from Menin Hospitality, a group known for other popular Miami Beach spots like Bodega, Pizza Bar, and Radio Bar. Ricky's drink menu, created by the folks at Radio Bar and Bodega, includes $16 cocktails like the Snowflake's Revenge, made with Zacapa and orange, as well as $7 beer and an $11 cocktail of the day. This spot also offers one of the longest weekday happy hours in South Beach, running Monday through Friday from 5 to 10 p.m. Think of it as a happy-hour-special-turned-dinner-discount. Plus, every alcoholic drink purchase comes with two tokens to spend at Ricky's arcade. New York’s Artichoke Basille's Pizza is in charge of the kitchen at Ricky's, whipping up a range of pies. 1222 16th St., Miami Beach; 305-704-3602; rickyssouthbeach.com. 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Friday, 2 p.m. to 5 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Courtesy of Gin + Collins
5. Gin + Collins. Here, the gin and tonic takes center stage. Boasting six combinations of gin, tonic, and garnishes, the bar offers a variety of ways to sip the traditional Spanish drink, known simply as a gin tonic. Cocktail highlights ($11 to $12) include the AC tonic, a sweet, fruity tonic created for the AC Hotels brand; the Vilanova, featuring Spanish gin with a citrus aftertaste; and the gin tonic, which pairs Hendrick’s Gin and Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic made with flowers, fruits, and herbs. Pair drinks with sharable Mexican- and Caribbean-inspired plates, including tacos with roast pork, shredded brisket, or fried avocado; tostones with garlic cream sauce; and mini cubanos with ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, and Creole mustard. 2912 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 786-264-4720; marriott.com. 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Nina's House at the Confidante
6. Nina's House. Nestled in the Confidante Hotel's backyard, this single-family home was once a community fitness center. Now, though, it has been transformed into a charming Mediterranean cottage. The place is equipped with romantic lighting, vintage Havana-style furniture, orange clay floors, a limestone fireplace, and two bars. One of these mixes classic and revived libations, and the other serves bites by Bird & Bone's Richard Hales. Drink highlights include juice-based cocktails like the Globetrotter with watermelon and gin ($16), and the Spicy Nina with pineapple, apple, and rum ($16); along with beer, wine, and prosecco. Opt for an order of tacos ($5), which are stuffed with Hales' signature hot fried chicken and topped with honey, mustard, and pickled cucumber. It all arrives with a side of chips and guacamole. 4141 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-424-1234; theconfidantemiamibeach.hyatt.com. 7 p.m. to midnight Thursday through Sunday.
7. The Regent Cocktail Club. Inside the Gale Hotel, the 1940s-era décor makes this place seem like a speakeasy in the middle of tourist-ridden South Beach. The scene is set with dim lights, antiqued furniture, old champagne glasses, and a comprehensive cocktail menu, with prices averaging about $15. Drinks include sazeracs, original daiquiris, old-fashioneds, sidecars, French 75s, Manhattans, pisco sours, mai tais, and mint juleps. In short, the Regent does what every neobar in town has been trying to do for the past five years: make the past hip again. 1690 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-0199; galehotel.com/nightlife. 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
The Coco Plum cocktail.
Courtesy of Purdy Louge
8. Purdy Lounge. This nearly two-decade-old bar, previously known as "Durdy Purdy," has undergone a full face-lift, with retro-inspired décor and a new craft cocktail menu curated by mixologist Tommy Merolla. Some of Purdy's newest drinks include the Pegu, a bright yellow drink made with simple syrup, lemon, egg white, and Earl Grey Tanqueray; or the Coco Plum, made with Woodford Bourbon, plum bitters, and coconut ice cubes. Though the Sunset Harbour bar has faced increasing challenges from the City of Miami Beach, with attempts to push its last call back to 2 a.m., the Purdy remains one of the area's most popular lounges. 1811 Purdy Ave., Miami Beach; 305-531-4622; purdylounge.com; 3 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. Saturday through Sunday.
9. Mac's Club Deuce. One of the oldest and last remaining dive bars in Miami Beach, Mac's Club Deuce is the neighborhood's definitive spot to drink, play the juke, and shoot some pool. Nothing has changed inside this legendary establishment, which opened in 1964. It isn't the place for fancy, hand-crafted cocktails. At Club Deuce, the liquor is stiff, the character is strong, and you don't have to shell out hundreds of dollars for a night out. There's a selection of craft and domestic beer ($5 to $6) and enough liquor to satisfy even the pickiest bar-goers. From 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., all drinks are two-for-one. After that, the bar stays open another ten hours for cheap drinks and spontaneous misadventures. 222 14th St., Miami Beach; 305-531-6200; macsclubdeuce.com. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
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Courtesy of Kill Your Idol
10. Kill Your Idol. This boozing spot welcomes all kinds: punks, hipsters, gays, straights, artists, even the yuppies wouldn't be chased out. It's not an especially large space, and yet Kill Your Idol still makes room for karaoke, DJs, bands, drag performances, and anything else that could be considered fun. The place has even got a jukebox, so you know it's cool. The funky decor of this rock bar is nothing less than over-the-top, with a life-size Bruce Lee figure overlooking the bar and a gigantic astronaut sculpture hanging from the ceiling. There's a full bar, stocked with moderately priced beer and liquor, and a different music performance or event almost nightly. 222 Española Way, Miami Beach; 305-672-1852; sub-culture.org/kill-your-idol. 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily.