“We should totally open our own bar.”
These words have been exchanged between bartending buddies since the days of dusty saloons. But every now and then, the right group of friends comes together, empties out their piggy banks and just decides that they would rather mix drinks for themselves.
Such is the case with the mixology foursome behind Midtown’s newest neighborhood bar, The Bitter Truth, which had its soft opening during Art Basel and is hosting a fete this Thursday to celebrate.
The team includes Bryan Canales ,Teddy Collins, Sarah Porter and Ryan Alfrey – all veteran mixologists that have been behind bars at places like Radio Bar, Baru, The Broken Shaker, The Gale, The Shelborne and countless others. They came together to form the Cocktail Collective, creating cocktail menus, running the bar at different events and finally, opening the Bitter Truth.
“We’ve always put our heart and soul into other people’s places,” Alfrey explains. “We’ve treated every place we’ve worked like our own.”
Proof of that is evident if you just pull up Bryan Canales shirt sleeves: The Miami native has the logos of The Broken Shaker and Radio Bar tattooed on his arm like old girlfriend’s names.
“Everybody just kind of left their jobs and we came together as a team,” says Porter, a petite blond who grew up on a farm in Maryland. “We only want to do things we find unique and that we’re passionate about.”
The venue occupies the space that once housed Baru Latin Bar, on the corner of Northeast 32 Street and Buena Vista Boulevard in Midtown and has a cozy industrial chic design, with exposed ceilings, cement-colored paint and walls covered in graffiti from Art Basel. Oh, and there’s a also a bathtub in the middle of the floor. Edison bulbs hang from the ceiling over the sweeping granite bar, and though the place has the feel of a neighborhood hangout, the copper cocktail tools on the bar let you know that the barkeeps mean business.
The menu is focused on craft cocktails, with a list of creations like the Mule for the Elit, a riff on the Moscow Mule, and the Truth Serum, a blend of rum and Pinot Noir accented with muddled rosemary and blackberries. But to the team, it’s not just the drinks that define The Bitter Truth. Collins says that what’s important “is all around the outside of the glass.”
Alfrey agrees. “Sometimes, in order to get a cool cocktail you have to go to a place you don’t really enjoy being.” That, too, is a bitter truth. But not one you will have to face here.
The Bitter Truth, 3252 NE First Ave., Miami.