A short trip north from South Beach’s famed club scene is a venue so different you might have to pinch yourself upon arrival. Step onto the courtyard of the quirky yet charming Indian Creek Hotel (2727 Indian Creek Dr., Miami Beach) and experience Miami’s first pop-up cocktail bar - The Broken Shaker, a bohemian speakeasy that will speak to the most refined cocktail geek and the most relaxed local from now until June.
Mixologists Elad Zvi and Gabriel Orta, the two geniuses behind Bar Lab and who helped build the cocktail menus at Living Room at W South Beach, have carefully curated the cocktail and food menus, the rare selection of spirits, and the design of their new joint-venture with former Miami hipster Roy Alpert of The Sydell Group. Now based in New York City, Alpert gravitated back to his old stomping grounds for this project in order to close the gap between the ultra-lounges and the dingy dive bars that define local nightlife. The Broken Shaker was born out of necessity, the team says.
“Handcrafted cocktails are not as accessible as they should be. It’s almost impossible to find a good drink for $11 on Miami Beach,” says Zvi.
And by a good drink, Zvi is referring to a masterpiece like the Agave Garden that features tequila infused with Hijiki seaweed and mixed with a fusion of herbs from the courtyard’s garden. (The herbs are on display like public art and sit inside the fountain.) Served in a highball glass with freshly crushed ice, this drink is one of six recipes on the menu that will change each week.
The daily punch bowl offering is a direct reaction to the expensive bottle service tradition that has become a staple in South Beach’s clubland. For $70, groups of four to eight can share 55 ounces – the equivalent of two bottles – of their desired spirits, fruits and botanicals at any table outside.
For a closer look at what Miami’s most imaginative mixology duo is doing behind the bar, head inside. “Think Paris meets New Orleans and lets New York tag along,” Orta says.
The bottles of premium and hard-to-acquire booze reach the ceiling and are flanked by vintage champagne coupes and cocktail shakers that Zvi and Orta collected over the past four years. You’ll see a bookcase devoted to homemade bitters and obscure digestives like the small yet enormously special bottle of Chartreuse Elixir liqueur from France.
The thoughtfulness of the bar’s ice program is also indicative of a proper cocktail bar. Each drink is married to what Zvi calls the “perfect piece of ice,” which comes from a selection including the 2 x 2 Old Fashioned square, the Collins cylinder, the whiskey sphere, the punch bowl block, the hand-chopped ice for shaking, and the refreshing hand-crushed ice.
If you stay a while Orta’s fresh food may pique your interest. He suggests trying the homemade dips – creamy tahnini with hummus, spicy avocado, and the Indian curry, which he compares to pate. Or try the Artisanal Empanadas for $7 and you get a choice of sweet plantains and pork, curry samosa or pear and brie. On the weekends they’ll open early for brunch and the occasional barbecue by the pool.
There’s also a hidden library of cocktail books to inspire your next mixology adventure. Perhaps you can convince either Zvi or Orta to read you a bedtime story. It’s possible that their accents are what keep you coming back for more.
Imbibe while you can at The Broken Shaker, 2727 Indian Creek Drive, Miami Beach; 305-531-2727. Open through June. Weekdays 5 p.m. – 2 a.m. Weekends 2 p.m. – 2 a.m
The courtyard at The Broken Shaker at Indian Creek Hotel (2727 Indian Creek, Miami Beach). Photo: Justin Namon