Every summer we set out to cool your senses with the season’s hottest cocktails. Dark spirits, despite the stigma of being too heavy, are trending as bartenders make booze-forward recipes synonymous with summer. Here are ten to try as you make your way on and off the beach for the next few months.
The Libertine $12
As you tap your toes to new wave and indie beats at Libertine, it’s hard to miss the floor’s trompe l’oeil, or the optical illusion created by thousands of pennies sorted by finish. It’s a trippy way to trick the eye and take guests out of their comfort zone. The speakeasy’s entrance is beyond a long corridor lined with vintage chicken wire, glass, and raw steel columns in the heart of downtown Miami. Once inside, Libertine is at once glamorous and grungy. Go big and boozy here with the bar’s eponymous cocktail by Curt Carrillo, featuring Bulleit Rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, elderflower liqueur, Cognac, and a dash of bitters.
40 NE 11th St., Miami; 305-363-2120 or libertinemiami.com
At Scarpetta, bartender Fernanda Neves toils away in the kitchen making her own limoncello. It’s a quintessential component of Italian life, especially during the summer when the sweet citrus peaks, and a key ingredient in the chic restaurant’s Sorrento cocktail. Named after the seaside town on the Amalfi Coast where the fragrant lemons call home, this digestivo boasts a bright blend of Oxley gin, prosecco, house-made limoncello, simple syrup, and fresh basil. It’s symbolic of the country’s coastline and the people’s zest for life.
Fontainebleau, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-674-4660 or fontainebleau.com
Ball and Chain
Summer Jam Session $12
Spend the summer sipping on the Summer Jam Session inside Little Havana’s historic hotspot Ball and Chain. This impressive cocktail blends Fords Gin with apricot liqueur, house-made guayaba jam (guava), and fresh lemon juice; a couple dashes of Angostura bitters dot the top layer in a coupe glass. The air-conditioned Calle Ocho bar opens at noon daily (except for Sunday when it opens at 2 p.m.) and doesn’t close till late. The hours in between are filled with salsa dancing, live local bands, karaoke, paella parties, and other spirited activities.
1513 SW 8th St., Miami; 305-643-7820 or ballandchainmiami.com
MO Bar + Lounge
Black & White Boss Martini $29
It’s only fitting that the cocktail you order at MO Bar + Lounge was designed to be the most luxe on the new menu. Inspired by indulgent and earthy black and white truffles, bar manager Steve Minor refers to it as a twist on a classic “dirty” martini. Black Moth Vodka, which is fairly new to the U.S. market, brings the Black Perigord truffles, while the white truffles come in the form of blue cheese infused with white truffle oil that’s stuffed inside house-brined and seasoned olives. (To be sipped like a boss!)
Mandarin Oriental, 500 Brickell Key Dr., Miami; 305-913-8358 or mandarinoriental.com
Bodega Taqeria y Tequila
Overnight Sensation $12
South Beach is buzzing from too many late nights at Bodega Taqueria y Tequila’s “hidden” bar, where one of the signature cocktails evokes the venue’s stake in local nightlife. The Overnight Sensation— Old Forester Bourbon, Lillet Blanc, Absinthe, and ginger snap reduction with fresh strawberry, thyme, and lemon— is a sexy companion to the Mexican street food flying out of Bodega’s not-so-hidden taco truck. Bonus: Live music starts at 9 p.m. every Wednesday night.
1220 16th St., Miami Beach; 305-704-2145 or bodegasouthbeach.com
Miami’s culinary cognoscenti may overlook the Seminole Hard Rock, but Kuro is worth the trip to Hollywood. The modern Japanese eatery finds harmony with locally sourced ingredients and fresh imports from Japan, along with a stunning collection of cocktails divided into the five flavor profiles (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami). The Ni is a stimulating rum-based drink made with Flor de Caña, muddled watermelon, Thai basil, Yuzu, fresh lemon, house-made fennel syrup, shichimi togarashi (Japanese blend of seven spices) and Peychaud’s Bitters. Each cocktail at Kuro is named after a Japanese number in sequence based on the time it was created for the menu. The Ni, for instance, means two in Japanese and it represents the second cocktail bartender Jared Boller decided to feature.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood; 954-327-7625 or seminolehardrockhollywood.com
Smooth Talker $11
Beat the heat at Bistro Cassis with the French spot’s new Smooth Talker, a decidedly international refresher packed with Milagro Silver tequila (Mexico) and two of Italy’s favorite apertivos— Campari and Aperol. Fresh lemon juice is added before the ingredients are shaken and served over ice in a Collins glass.
118 Buena Vista Blvd., Miami; 786-577-4410 or www.cassismiami.com
AC Hotel Miami Beach
Biscayne Boulevardier $12
The AC Hotel is where beachy vibes meet serious cocktails like the Biscayne Boulevardier. Here, it’s a bottle-aged cocktail brimming with Cyrus Noble bourbon, hibiscus liqueur, Mancino Vermouth Secco (white vermouth), and Aperol. The ultramodern mix is stirred over ice and strained into a rocks glass with a scorched orange peel. It should look like a Negroni, its gin-based relative.
2912 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 786-264-4720 or marriott.com
Seagrape at Thompson Miami Beach
AFROHEAD Rum Passion Fruit Mojito $15
Summertime screams mojito-time, so the talented bar team at Seagrape went all-in with their variation of the classic Cuban drink. They start with fresh mint leaves and muddled chunks of Florida watermelon before adding Afrohead Rum 7-year, fresh lime j uice, house-made passion fruit puree (in season now), and simple syrup. The ingredients get a good shake, are poured over crushed ice, and topped with club soda. Why it’s swoon-worthy: The rum’s dynamic body is perked up by the passion fruit’s distinct flavor and texture.
Thompson Miami Beach, 4041 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 786-605-1043 or seagrapemiamibeach.com
15th & Vine Kitchen and Bar
The Pear-Vine Martini $15
On the 15th floor of the Viceroy, 15th & Vine Kitchen and Bar offers a generous weeknight happy hour from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Specialty cocktails like the signature Pear-Vine Martini are reduced to $5, which makes us feel better as we (over) indulge. The Pear-Vine comprises delicate pear vodka, house-made lavender syrup, and white cranberry juice in an elegant cocktail glass. A side of California-made popcorn flavored with the essence of charred bourbon barrels is served on the side. And, Marilyn— how does she fit in? Legend has it that lavender was Monroe’s favorite scent in the evening.
Viceroy, 485 Brickell Ave., Miami; 305-307-5413 or viceroyhotelsandresorts.com