Top 10 Cocktails in Miami

Photo Illustration: Ana Larrauri/Miami Herald

A wise man once asked, “Oh, you fancy, huh?” Well, it just takes one night out in Miami to realize that this glitzy town is, in fact, very fancy. It’s filled with folks we affectionately like to call, fancy pants. There are some people, on the other hand, that vacillate between the ultra-high-end establishments and the humble dives without trouble; it truly just depends on the occasion. To indulge in your inner fancy and do it big, consider this round-up of Miami’s most sophisticated cocktails and atmospheres.

1. White Cosmo at db Bistro Moderne
225 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami; 305-421-8800
Price – Happy Hour $9; Regular $16
The quintessential cocktail of the 90s has undergone a chic makeover. Head to Chef Daniel Boulud’s downtown Miami outpost to rediscover the Cosmo, featuring a glamorous ice sphere with a delicate orchid frozen inside.

2 oz. vodka
1 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1 oz. lime juice
1 oz. white cranberry juice
1 orchid or other edible flower as garnish
Shake all the ingredients together with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Prepare the garnish beforehand. Freeze an ice ball with an orchid or other edible flower in its center.

2. Dewar’s Smash at Gotham Steak at Fontainebleau Miami Beach
4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 877-326-7412
Price – $14
While some scotch-obsessed readers may scoff at this suggestion, we strongly recommend what we’ve dubbed an impressive twist on the mojito. Its thirst-quenching characteristics defy what’s traditionally associated with both the mojito and scotch. The Smash is well-balanced and could become a favorite for the budding scotch drinker, who may not have the confidence to keep it neat or on the rocks yet, but is open to a new adventure. 

2 parts Dewar’s White Label Blended Scotch Whisky
1 – 2 mixing spoons of granulated sugar or ¾ parts simple syrup
2 lemon wedges
3 – 4 fresh mint sprigs
Muddle the fresh lemon, fresh mint and sugar in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add Dewar’s, shake, and strain into a Collins glass filled with crushed ice. Top with soda water and garnish with fresh mint leaves.

3. Atlantico 75 at St. Regis Bal Harbour
9703 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-993-3300
Price – $16
When you enter the exclusive enclave that is the St. Regis, you can’t help but feel fancy. We recommend posting up at the bar in the lobby for an Atlantico 75, which is typically ordered by suave patrons.  The rum, by the way, is partly owned by a Miami man whose name is synonymous with suave, Mr. Enrique Iglesias. The recipe is essentially a ramped up version of the classic French 75 that packs a deceivingly powerful punch.

¾ oz. Atlantico Private Cask Rum
¾ oz. Grand Marnier
¾ oz. passion fruit puree
½ oz. pasteurized egg white
4 oz. sparkling wine
Shake the first four ingredients in an ice-filled shaker. Then, open the shaker and add the sparkling wine. Strain into a champagne flute and garnish with a strawberry on the rim.

4. English Rose at The Dutch
2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-938-3111
Price – $15
Robert Ferrara, head bartender at The Dutch, created this complicated cocktail to help the non-gin drinker ease into the wild world of gin. The flavor is enhanced by the rhubarb, a tart/sweet ingredient we’ll start seeing more of stateside (bartenders in the UK have been using it since they were young chaps). The English Rose recently received the seal of approval form a judging panel of renowned fancy pants at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic.

1 ½ oz. Plymouth Gin
1 oz. Dolin Blanc
2 strawberries muddled
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
½ oz. homemade rhubarb syrup
1 small egg white
3 drops of Bitterman Burlesque Bitters
Add all ingredients and shake without ice for 20 seconds to emulsify the egg whites. Add ice and shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Double strain the cocktail into an ice cold coupe. Zest a fresh lemon twist and discard.

5. Tequila Beets at Bloom
Opening in June, 2751 N. Miami Ave., Miami
Price – $14
Beet the heat (not our precious basketball team, of course) with this unique blend of Alacrán — a super smooth tequila — fresh roasted beet juice, and homemade chamomile syrup. It’s a refreshing, organic drink with a deep agave bite. The popularity of the quirky root vegetable surfaced a few years ago in the most culinary corners of the cocktail scene. Mixologist Chris Hudnall’s recipe will help you forget a few things at this new spot in Wynwood, including how nutritious it is for you.

2 oz. Alacrán Tequila
¾ oz. fresh lime juice
¾ oz. chamomile syrup
1 oz. fresh roasted beet juice
2 dashes of whiskey barrel-aged bitters
Add all ingredients into Boston glass and shake vigorously. Double strain into a frosted coupe glass, garnish with an orange zest and a sprig of thyme.

6. Love Unit at Hyde Beach, SLS Hotel South Beach
1701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-674-1701
Price – $15
You’re guaranteed to fall in love with this dynamic cocktail as you play poolside at South Beach’s newest sandy hot spot. The Love Unit is the Hyde Lounge’s signature drink because it’s balanced and beautiful. Just like true love should be.

1 oz. vodka
1 oz. vanilla vodka
¾ oz. fresh lime juice
½ oz. red grapefruit
½ oz. simple syrup
2 red bell peppers
2 large basil leaves
In a pint shaker glass, add red bell pepper and basil and hand press with a muddler. Add spirits and mixers. Fill glass with ice. Shake vigorously for 6 seconds. Strain into cocktail glass.

7. Cherry Red Carpet at Ortanique in the Gables
278 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; 305-446-7710
Price – Lunch $10; Dinner $12
Flavored vodkas tend to absorb a lot of criticism in the sophisticated cocktail scene, but not all are created equal and we’re certainly not suggesting you embrace anything with cotton candy on the label. This cocktail just screams fancy. Featuring Grey Goose Cherry Noir, the brand’s first new flavor in five years, it’s made with rare black cherries handpicked in French Basque Country.

1½ parts Grey Goose Cherry Noir
¾ parts simple syrup
1½ parts fresh squeezed lemon juice
¾ parts cranberry Juice
Shake all ingredients together with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with club soda and a cherry.

8. New Deal at FDR at Delano
1685 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-924-4071
Price – $20
To add a bit of presidential pomp and circumstance to any party, reach for the New Deal cocktail at FDR. Formerly The Florida Room, the subterranean lounge is now run by a new nightlife regime out of Las Vegas and the cocktail menu pays homage to the leader that brought our country out of a dark time. Nothing says relief, recovery and reform like a progressive pour of bourbon.

1½ oz. Bulliet Bourbon
1 oz. peach purée
¾ oz. agave nectar
Float of ginger beer
In a mixing glass, add Bulleit bourbon, peach puree, and agave nectar with ice. Shake and strain into rocks glass. Finish off with a splash of ginger beer. Garnish with a mint sprig and orange peel.

9. Crushed Cherry Velvet at Zuma
270 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami; 305-577-0277
Price – $16
This cocktail is unequivocally for the veteran scotch drinker (see above) and worth the visit to Zuma to experience. It’s so fancy we can’t give you the exact recipe.  Theo Von Ungern-sternberg, the mastermind behind Zuma’s bar, blends scotch, blood orange, cherry heering, antica formula and battle-aged bitters to give a bold and extravagant taste. We think it’s the cherry heering that makes this drink so fancy. After all, it’s been used by royalty for nearly 200 years.

10. Smoking Maguey at Lantao Kitchen & Cocktails at Surfcomber Hotel
1717 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-532-7715
Price– $12
Mezcal, the drink distilled from the maguey plant (different from tequila’s blue agave origins), is quite bold, distinctively smoky, and has been traditionally consumed straight up for many moons. In the spirit of keeping things fresh and fancy, the bar team at the relatively new Lantao restaurant amplified the old school margarita with a remarkably balanced blend of smokiness and sweetness from the agave syrup. Consider it a good introduction to what’s still considered a pretty esoteric spirit.

1½ oz. Partida Blanco Tequila
½ oz. Del Maguey Vida (mezcal)
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. agave nectar
Combine all ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice and shake. Strain over fresh ice in a martini glass with smoked paprika on the rim. Garnish with lime wheel.


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