1. Beachfront mixology at the SLS Hotel
The debut of the SLS Hotel South Beach, adjacent to the Delano in the former Ritz Plaza Hotel, has us tingling with excitement. The culinary brilliance of chef José Andrés will headline, but the anticipation shouldn’t stop with Miami’s foodies. Andrés will spoil cocktail lovers with innovative drinks at Bar Centro, the bar for his restaurant, The Bazaar. The James Beard Award-winning chef brings his reinvented gin and tonic, liquid nitrogen caipirinha, along with his signature salt air margarita to the new lobby bar. To create the latter, Andrés employs a complicated hand immersion blender to transform a combo of salt water and soy lecithin into a “lighter than foam” concoction that sits atop the cocktail. It’s as thoughtful as it is fun. He says he wants his guests to “get the perfect amount of salt with each sip of the cocktail, which the air does better than, say, a rim of coarse salt.” And, that’s why he’s in charge.
The hotel, restaurant and lobby bar will open in June, which is the perfect tease for the nightlife component, which we won’t have access to until months later. Hyde Lounge of LA and Vegas will create its first oceanfront location, featuring 8,000+ square feet of pool, beach, and indoor/outdoor space on the SLS property. The lounge’s artful mixology will reflect the flavor and culture of Miami and pair nicely with bites from Andrés’ stylish food truck (an intriguing collaboration with Philippe Starck) that will be there full-time.
Opening this June, SLS Hotel South Beach, 1701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-674-1701
2. Bloom Wynwood
What may soon become Wynwood’s hottest spot for eating and lounging is on the DL for now. We can tell you that you’ll be in good hands at Bloom with Chris Hudnall’s drinks. Hudnall, one of Miami’s most creative (and humble) bartenders, has been diligently working on the cocktail menu for months. It’s all about mixing fresh ingredients with lively spirits that complement the theme of the restaurant. More to come on Miami.com
Opening this June, Bloom Wynwood, 2751 N. Miami Ave., Miami
3. Glitter is the future
In the never-ending pursuit of perfection, many of the most meticulous bartenders are growing bored with high-end garnishes. It’s not enough to add a beautiful fresh flower to a cocktail anymore. Jamie Evans, Miami-based brand ambassador for the super-premium Oxley Gin, is making a statement with a subtle pinch of sparkle in drinks like this Clover Club. As he travels the country spreading the gin gospel, he says all that glitters is gold. OK, we’re sold.
4.The launch of Rémy Martin V in Miami
Rémy Martin V is fresh on the Miami scene. It’s a clear, non-cognac spirit with hints of pear and mint. The company is pushing it as a viable alternative to vodka in the clubs. Miami’s renowned bartender, John Lermayer, helped launch V in March, which speaks volumes about the quality. V also played a big role in Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade’s New Year’s Eve bash at the Shelbourne Hotel where LeBron James proposed. Not too shabby for a preview. In March, Chris Bosh celebrated his birthday with Rémy and V at a Boardwalk Empire-inspired party at Prelude at Barton G. Next time you’re in the mood to be a baller (which let’s face it, happens more than you’re willing to admit) see if you like the brand’s first clear expression. Try mixing it with pomegranate juice for best results.
5. Jeronimo’s South Beach: a bar that’s just a bar
Miami is currently recovering from what has been the most electric “season” in years. It could be nice to hit a bar on South Beach without a big name act, lines, and well, a bunch of pretense. Sam Baum, self-proclaimed anti-socialite, swears by his Wednesday night party that’s not a party. Dubbed “SRSLY,” Baum and his co-hosts invite you to Jeronimo’s Bar to “have good drinks and be normal.” He brings in a friend to DJ (the guy’s not actually a DJ) and they offer decent drinks specials, free hot dogs, a giant Jenga set, and that’s it. It doesn’t get more hipster than this.
Wednesdays from 9 p.m. – 1 a.m., Jeronimo’s Bar, 814 1st St., Miami Beach; 305-397-8382
6. Throwback cocktails at The Raleigh
Thankfully, The Raleigh is in cahoots with the Genuine Hospitality Group to reinvent the timeless hotel's food and beverage operations. Miami-based culinary king Michael Schwartz is also in charge of creating a new restaurant concept on-site. His beverage director, Ryan Goodspeed, is implementing the new cocktail program as we speak. He says you’ll find high quality ingredients and spirits worked into the classics. Now that the WMC takeover is long gone, we won’t think twice about sitting by the vintage diving board and sipping Goodspeed’s Classic Manhattan, an old favorite made with Eagle 10-year Bourbon.
The Raleigh, 1775 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-534-6300
7. Cynar cocktails
This bittersweet artichoke-flavored Italian liquor is all the rage in the Buenos Aires nightlife scene. While it has a more mass appeal with porteños who are drinking it like it’s going out of style, we’re just starting to see it appear on Miami’s craft cocktail menus as mixologists look for exotic ways to enhance their recipes. It’s still pretty rare, but you can find it here now in the Smokey Artichoke cocktail at the Living Room at the W South Beach, which is a robust combination of mezcal, Cynar, sweet vermouth, and earthy bitters.
Living Room at W South Beach, 2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-938-3000
8. Setting your stir up for success
If you like boozy cocktails (think a Manhattan or a Negroni), you've probably seen your bartender use a Yarai Mixing glass and with a proper barspoon. The thick crystal glass insulates and keeps your drink cold as the bartender stirs for what seems like forever – up to 60 seconds. Cocktail connoisseurs in New York embraced the Japanese barware a few years ago and we’re finally starting to reap the benefits here in Miami. Your cocktail will be so much better; you’ll want to bow down with gratitude.
9. Bringing the barware home or on the go
Create the perfect ice cubes at home with these trays that ensure the inevitable melt will happen significantly later. It’s simply science: the thickness and surface area help the ice stay intact longer. For the whisky and scotch lover, go for the ultra-sleek ice sphere. Splurge on an expensive aluminum alloy device that transfers a block of ice into a perfect sphere or order these molds that do the trick for a fraction of the price. Either way, filtered water is always recommended. Miami’s serious mixologists have been obsessing over ice for a while now and, fortunately, it’s becoming more common for venues to implement legitimate ice programs.
With so much emphasis on temperature, consider reaching for stainless steel cocktail straws. They keep the fluid cold as it travels from the glass to your mouth AND they're reusable (i.e., eco-friendly). The straws add a modern touch to cocktails at home and you may start seeing them more as you visit Miami’s cocktail havens.
We’re not going to tell you where to use these or how, but who doesn’t need an everyday stainless steel flask with a motivational message? Favorite etching in the collection of 5 oz. containers: “Put some hair on your chest.” Available at West Elm at Shops at Midtown Miami, $25.
10. Mercy hangover prevention
With all of this boozing, make sure you don’t have to beg for mercy the next day. In fact, the folks from the premium hangover prevention beverage advise you to always have Mercy on your person and drink it before bed. Mercy, when consumed during a night out, is said to counter the after-effects of up to four alcoholic beverages. Alex Ott is the alchemist behind the caffeine-free and naturally-flavored beverage. He brings nearly two decades of experience balancing work and play in the mixology scene to neutralize the dangerous by-products of alcohol for those of us that have to work in the morning. Try it in a cocktail with ingredients that basically spell out hangover:
DIY Mercy Pinada
1 ½ oz. tequila
2 ½ oz. pineapple juice
1 pinch cayenne pepper
¼ oz. of fresh lime juice
2 oz. of Mercy
•Combine ingredients in a highball glass filled with ice
•Float with MERCY
•Garnish with a lime
Consider yourself lucky. You can only find Mercy right now in New York and Miami.