While Miami may have earned a reputation for its larger-than-life nightclubs, an exploding food and cocktail scene has given us a pretty solid assortment of great small bars and hole-in-the-wall gems worth scoping out. Here’s where to go next time you want to skip out on the bottle service and opt for an expertly crafted cocktail or locally brewed cold one without having to shout over booming EDM.
1. Bar Nancy
When you take a seat at the bar and get your first glimpse of the cocktail menu at Bar Nancy, it’s easy to forget you’re in Little Havana. They aren’t just slanging mixed drinks at this hole in the wall bar with a nautical theme. With its wood-lined walls, Betsy Ross American flag hanging, and bar framed by a cutout of a ship’s hull wearing the bar’s namesake, Bar Nancy is one of Miami’s hottest artisanal craft cocktail dives.
2007 SW 8th Street, Miami
2. Copper 29
Golden-age glamor meets sophisticated swank at Copper 29. Located on Coral Gables’s posh Miracle Mile, this easy-to-miss cocktail spot draws a blend of well-heeled urban professionals and hip, young foodies and mixology buffs. Around 9 p.m. on some nights, a live DJ behind the bar takes the atmosphere from wind-down to turn-up.
206 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables
3. The Bitter Truth
When it comes to drinks, the team at The Bitter Truth means business. And while the cocktails are creative and complex, the spot has the feel of a funky neighborhood dive bar (or a warehouse turned drinking den). Boasting graffiti-covered walls, exposed ceilings, and a bathtub in the middle of the floor, it’s a great place for the adventurous imbiber to kick back and try the storied Cocktail Collective’s latest creations.
3252 NE First Ave., Miami
4. Mercado Negro
Located through a secret back door in South Miami’s Tacocraft, Mercado Negro is the perfect blend of industrial cool and clandestine chic. From the blend of Mexican rap, hip hop and R&B that pumps through the speakers, to the gilded modern calavera portraits that cover the walls (not to mention a pretty sick mural), this is where sophisticated intimacy meets urban edge.
7200 SW 58th Avenue, South Miami
5. Craft Social Club
With its industrial chic décor and comfy leather booths, Craft Social Club strikes a flawless balance between posh SoBe lounge and hip NYC cocktail den. Dreamt up by R.T. Murphy (alumni of EMM Group) and L.P Steele (who ran Bacardi Legacy and GA Magazine/Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender competitions), the philosophy behind CSC is to combine a personalized, crafted Golden Age cocktail experience with an intimate nightlife atmosphere (set to the tune of classic hip hop, soul, and R&B). It’s also the only bar in Miami to offer VIP craft bottle service with built-in bars at each VIP suite. Because let’s be real – if you’re gonna pop bottles, why settle for a vodka cranberry when you can have a craft cocktail instead?
100 Collins Ave, Miami Beach
6. Repour Bar
When it comes to being hip, Repour nails it. Tucked away inside the Albion Hotel, it feels more like a secret basement speakeasy than a lobby bar. Ladies will no doubt appreciate the bar’s talented (and seriously buff) bartenders, but you don’t have to be searching for eye candy to enjoy the tantalizing creations this dream team is capable of shaking up. Menu items change seasonally, so you can always look forward to trying something new.
1650 James Avenue, Miami Beach
7. Drinkhouse Fire & Ice
Miami’s only ice bar has more to offer patrons than just a chilly experience. Next time you’re in the mood for an interesting drinking experience, forego the ice bar and grab a seat at the Fire Lounge, where expert mixologists will whip you up a range of interactive cocktails that will engage all of your senses.
1672 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
8. The Anderson
The site of Miami’s oldest bar, this MiMo neighborhood gem offers an eclectic menu helmed by Vagabond’s Alex Chang and a slew of creative, fun and delicious cocktails by Bar Lab’s Elad Zvi and Gabe Orta – also co-owners of the spot and the team behind Broken Shaker.
709 NE 79th Street, Miami
9. El Patio
Occupying the space formerly known as The Social Lubricant Lounge, El Patio makes you feel as though you’ve stepped into a backyard party somewhere in South America. Friends sit and drink on bleacher style seating, twinkling string lights illuminate the outdoor space, and a variety of live DJs play Latin and cumbia beats all night long. At the bar, you’ll find all manner of beer specials, along with craft cocktails and Latin comfort food.
167 NW 23rd Street, Miami
Located on the 40th floor of EAST, Miami, Sugar is set up to feel like a stylish enchanted garden party. Guests can gaze out across the water to Miami Beach and Key Biscayne while sipping Sesame Slings and Lychee Blossom martinis from couches shaded by lush and verdant foliage.
788 Brickell Plaza, Miami
11. The Mighty
Boasting an extensive beer menu and selection of “stiff drinks” designed to ease that post-work tension, The Mighty is the epitome of a cozy neighborhood dive bar – with such epicurean delights as Chicken Gorgonzola Mango sausage, fried frog legs with smoky BBQ sauce, and Brussels sprouts sauteed with Serrano ham.
2224 SW 22nd St., Miami
12. Drunken Dragon
Marked by black-out windows and a nondescript neon sign reading ‘MARKET,’ this Miami Beach mainstay has become famous for its Korean BBQ, craft cocktails and unbeatable happy hour. Hit the chic spot (located speakeasy-style in a seedy looking strip mall) and play Drunken Roulette, where the bartenders whip you up a surprise based on your spirit preferences.
1424 Alton Rd, Miami Beach