Summer Sips: Miami overflows with new cocktail menus and bars
Insider's guide to new summertime cocktail menus and venues in Miami
June is nearly here and this usually marks the start of Miami's slow-rolling season. To a tired local’s dismay, it appears as though this summer will be an outlier as some of the most popular spots in town refresh their cocktail menus, throw parties, and launch novel services for guests. Entirely new venues are popping up as well signifying the city's increasingly year-round persona.
Here’s a look at what’s sure to be a fabulously boozy and busy summer:
Blues Bar at the National Hotel (pictured)
For vintage voyeurs, all eyes are on the National Hotel this summer. After a $12-million renovation, the iconic Art Deco building has been restored to its original grandeur. Party like it's 1939 with live jazz and blues, throwback cocktails at retro prices ($6 - $8), and complimentary appetizers, every other Hump Day through August 27 from 6 - 8 p.m. The beverage program is still a bit of a work in progress, but expect to sip on cocktails with names like the Floral Flute (Prosecco), National Hemingway (white rum), Tamara Bella (tequila), and Cucumber Fresco (gin).
Blues Bar at the National Hotel, 1677 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; nationalhotel.com or 305-532-2311
Jennifer Chaefsky and Michael Pirolo, partners in business and in life, recently revealed Macchialina’s new cocktail menu with Will Rivas (pictured), the bartender formerly of 1826 Restaurant & Lounge and Khong River House. As loyal guests know, the team is all about simplicity at the cozy two-year-old Italian restaurant. Rivas honors this rustic sentiment with recipes that let the spirits shine. In “Devil in a Blue Dress,” there’s a hint of honey that softens the spice of the Ancho Reyes (dried and smoked poblano chile liqueur). The added floral sweetness of the Kappa Pisco and a clean finish from the lemon smooths out one of the best drinks on the new list. Rivas promises the spice in this cocktail “won’t overpower your palate so you can still enjoy Michael’s food.” Expect bright, bright flavors in general and a slightly syrupy consistency at the bar this summer. Prices range from $14 - $16.
Negroni: Beefeater London dry gin, Carpano Antica vermouth, Campari
Cable Car: Mount Gay Black Barrel house spiced rum, Cointreau, fresh lemon
Allegheny: Rittenhouse rye, Crème de Mure (blackberry liqueur), fresh lemon
El Diablo: Olmeca Altos Blanco tequila, Crème de Cassis (black currant liqueur), ginger beer
Rising Sun: Pierde Almas La Purtita Verda mezcal and blood orange (perfect for perking up the palate before a meal!)
Rosemary’s Baby: Absolut Elyx, Crème de Mure, rosemary syrup, freah lemon (perfect for brunch!)
Phenomena: Beefeater 24, Cardamaro (wine-based amaro), Bianco Montanaro vermouth
Devil in a Blue Dress: Ancho Reyes, Kappa pisco, fresh lemon
What’s more, Macchialina’s popular lunch pop-up Pirolo’s Panino will return for a limited time this summer with decadent sandwiches rivaling classic hoagies from Philly/NYC. They'll easily soak up Rivas' new beer- and vermouth-based cocktails before guests have to get back to work.
Macchialina, 820 Alton Rd., Miami Beach; macchialina.com or 305-534-2124
Oak Tavern in the Design District, another two-year-old favorite, is introducing back-to-basic cocktails by new head bartender Anthony Vecsesi (aka “Tibor”). Coincidently, prior to joining the team at Oak Tavern, Tibor was making cocktails at Khong River House after Rivas’ departure. Expect the new OT drinks to follow chef/owner David Bracha’s commitment to freshness through house-infused spirits with fruits and herbs along with fresh-squeezed juices (sans processed sugars). The new bar menu is divided into two sections: Tavern Cocktails ($12) and The Classics ($12 - $14). The Classic Champagne Cocktail dovetails nicely with the restaurant’s fresh oysters. It's a minimalistic recipe that reportedly dates back to the Civil War, first appearing in Jerry Thomas’ The Bartender's Guide (alternately titled "How to Mix Drinks or the Bon Vivant’s Companion") in 1862. For rum lovers there's the Mary Pickford, a Prohibition-era cocktail invented decades later at the Hotel Naçional in Havana, Cuba for the curly-haired silent film actress who was Hollywood's first sweetheart.
Classic Champagne Cocktail: NV Taittinger Champagne, sugar, bitters
Moscow Mule: Absolut Elyx, ginger beer
Bramble: Smooth Ambler gin or Chopin vodka, fresh lemon, black and blueberries muddled with St. Germain
Mary Pickford: Plantation 3 Stars Rum, fresh-pressed pineapple, Maraschino Liqueur, house-made Grenadine
Kentucky Mint Julep: Maker’s Mark, mint syrup, fresh mint leaves
The Green Mile: Smooth Ambler Gin, cucumber, chile, fresh lime
The Oak Tavern: Lemon-Thyme infused Tito’s vodka, Yellow Chartreuse, fresh lemon
Dublin: Jameson Irish whiskey, Carpano Antica vermouth, Green Chartreuse
Watermelon Martini: Chopin Wheat Vodka and fresh-pressed watermelon
Tavern Paloma: Olmeca Altos tequila, rosemary-infused honey, fresh grapefruit, Aperol
Oak Tavern, 35 NE 40th St., Miami; oaktavernmiami.com or 786-391-1818
The Forge has been a landmark since what could be the beginning of time in Miami Beach (first opened nearly 100 years ago). In January, owner Shareef Malnik brought Michelin-starred chef Christopher Lee onboard to innovate in an effort to breathe new life into the steak house. And just this month, head bartender Justin Maas unveiled a robust cocktail list with about two dozen drinks that stand strongly beside Lee's striking dishes. The Smoke and Fire is one of his signature cocktails. It's a combination of pineapple-infused tequila, fresh lime, Creme de Mezcal, Peychaud's Bitters, egg white, and jalapeno tincture (housemade infusion with high-proof alcohol for extra intensity). Classics like the Vesper also grace Maas' menu with familiar names evoking the glamour of the restaurant's halcyon days. Prices range from $13 - $14.
Kiucumber: Ketel One vodka, St. Germain, kiwi, cucumber, basil, fresh lime
Sante: Absolut Elyx, Veev Mint, fresh acai, pineapple and lime juice
Guava Cooler: Avion silver tequila, Solerno, fresh lime, guava, sugar/cayenne rim
Strawberry Shrub Cake: Ketel One vodka, strawberry-basil shrub (tart syrup made from fruit, sugar and vinegar), Licor 43 (Spanish liqueur made with 43 ingredients including citrus and vanilla), fresh lime, club soda
Summer Thyme: Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin, blackberries, blueberries, thyme-infused agave syrup, Velvet Falernum (spiced and citrusy syrup used to flavor Caribbean cocktails with sweetness), fresh lime, club soda
Peach Smash: Jim Beam rye whiskey, black peaches, honey, ginger root, fresh lime, peach bitters
Lychee-Spumante: Lychee-infused Absoult vodka, Domaine de Canton (ginger liqueur), Champagne, lychee foam
Tipsy Fresa: Rock Sake, strawberries, ginger root, Champagne
Carioca Passion: Leblon cachaça, black peppercorns, basil, fresh lime, raw sugar, fresh passion fruit
Hot and Dirty: Belvedere vodka, olive brine infused with jalapeno, bacon stuffed olives
Apple Crisp: Maker's Mark infused with green apples, housemade cinnamon syrup, fresh lime, house ginger beer
Smoke and Fire: Sauza Blue Silver infused with pineapples, fresh lime, Crème de Mezcal, Peychaud's Bitters, egg white, jalapeno tincture
Blueberry Bliss: Belvedere Red vodka, blueberries, mint, fresh lime, house ginger beer
Tarragon Lemonade: Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin, fresh tarragon, housemade lemonade, club soda
Mai Tai: 10 Cane rum, Grand Marnier, orgeat syrup (almond), simple syrup, fresh lime
Pimm’s Cup: Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin, cucumber, ginger root, fresh lime
Vesper: Elyx, Tangueray, Lillet Blanc, flamed lemon peel
Zombie: Appleton VX, Ron Atlantico, fresh lime, grapefruit, and orange juice, Velvet Falernum, pineapple syrup, Pernod absinthe, Angostura bitters
Sazerac: RI Whiskey, Peychaud bitters, sugar cube, Pernod absinthe
Grand Kappa Sour: Kappa Pisco, Grand Marnier, fresh lime, egg white, Angostura bitters
Forge Manhattan: Jim Beam rye whiskey, port, cherry, dark/sweet cherry
Summertime Passion: B&B liqueur, fresh passionfruit, mint, Prosecco, nutmeg
Highland Sandia: Avion silver tequila, fresh watermelon, lime, Cocchi Americano (Italian aperitivo), vermouth
Fresca Pepino: Beluga vodka, cucumber puree, fresh lemon, ginger, mint
Smoky Negroni: Pierde Almas Mezcal, Aperol, Dolin sweet vermouth
Blanco Negroni: Old Tom Gin, Suze bitters, Cocchi Americano
Maple Old Fashioned: Spring 44 bourbon, maple syrup and Bitterman's spice cranberry bitters
Anejo Old Fashioned: Tres Generaciones anejo tequila, Olorosso sherry, agave nectar, Bitterman's Xocolatl mole bitters
Spicy Rum Old Fashioned: Zacapa rum, Ancho Reyes chile liqueur, housemade chicory coffee tincture
Rested Manhattan: Tapatio reposado tequila, Amaro, honey, Orinico bitters
Downtown Manhattan: George Dickel rye whisky, Cynar (bitter artichoke liqueur), Crème de cacao, aromatic bitters
915 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; meatmarketmiami.com or 305-532-0088
The Bloody Mary and Bubbly Cart at Hyde Beach
Hyde Beach at the SLS South Beach is launching a tableside cart service for thirsty sunbathers. Guests at the chic poolside hangout are encouraged to personalize their drinks with a variety of new options. $18 each.
Bloody Mary: Tomato base; vodka selection, including Crop Tomato Vodka, Absolut Peppar, Hangar One Chipotle; fresh lime; salt and pepper; sriracha; Worcestershire; horseradish; Filthy olives or pickles; and, regular salt or Sal de Gusano (worm salt from Oaxaca) for the rim of the glass.
Bubbles: Champagne or Cava complemented by…
Fresh purees: peach, mango, passion fruit
Syrups: strawberry-black pepper, raspberry-mint, blueberry-Jasmine
Liqueurs: St. Germain, St. George Spiced Pear, Crème Yvette (violet liqueur)
Fresh juices: orange, pineapple, grapefruit
Fruit: raspberries, strawberries, blackberries
Hyde Beach, 1701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; sbe.com or 305-455-2990
Zuma's izakaya-style bar is ready for summer thanks to beverage manager Theo Von-Ungern Sternberg's sheer enthusiasm. The already amazing menu now boasts more than two dozen premium cocktails with the addition of a few that are influenced by classic Japanese ingredients, fruit-forward blends, and even absinthe ($14 each).
Mary Poppins: gin, fresh lemon, raspberry shrub and egg whites. Finished with a dash of dry vermouth, raspberries dipped in “pop rocks"
Green Goblin: tequila, fresh muddled kiwi and aloe vera, yuzu, Prosecco, absinthe rinse
Toyko Rose (aka the "Negroni of Zuma"): rose petal-infused gin, Campari, plum sake and plum bitters, hand-carved sphere of ice
Zuma at the EPIC Hotel & Residences, 270 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami; zumarestaurant.com or 305-577-0277.
Red, The Steakhouse
Every summer, Red, The Steakhouse spotlights the most refreshing cocktails on its seasonal menu ($17 each). Sit at the sleek bar and take in the restaurant's ambiance, which is glowing with, you guessed it, red lighting. Two of the best options include:
Red Pepper: Nolet’s Silver Gin, St. Germain, fresh lime juice, agave nectar, and a slice of red pepper
Summer Sipper: Makers “46," peach puree, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, fresh basil leaves
Red, The Steakhouse, 119 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; redthesteakhouse.com or 305-534-6688
The Eighteenth at Prohibition Miami
The good ol’ days are back, as you may have noticed, at Prohibition Miami. The brand new restaurant and bar on the border of Midtown and Wynwood took over the space in which George’s Kitchen staged a brief stint before closing. Head upstairs to the “secret” speakeasy where cocktails will flow freely (well, for $14 each). The second floor is named after the 18th amendment, which took away the right to drink alcohol (1919 – 1933). It's a name that may trigger memories of the dive bar Amendment XXI (21) in the Buena Vista neighborhood before the area turned cool. The bar team at Prohibition describes the cocktails as “classics from the Prohibition era,” but several on the list were created or en vogue prior to the time of extreme temperance. For example, by many accounts, the Manhattan was all the rage by the 1880s. In any case, the drinks will be served till midnight Monday – Thursday and 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Martini: Bombay Sapphire gin or Ketel One vodka, infused with dry vermouth and garnished with olives
Old Fashioned: Crown XO, superfine sugar, organic bitters, muddled slice of fresh orange, maraschino cherries
Manhattan: Premium whiskey, sweet vermouth, organic bitters, maraschino cherries
Sidecar: Remy Martin VSOP, Cointreau, fresh lemon with superfine sugar rim
Archangel: Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin, Aperol, cucumber, lemon twist
Sazerac: Maker’s Mark, Peychaud’s Bitters, absinthe, lemon peel
Cosmopolitan: Kettle One Citrus Vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice, fresh lime, orange twist
Tom Collins: Bombay Sapphire gin, fresh lemon, superfine sugar, club soda, lemon wedge
Raspberry Mojito: Bacardi rum, housemade simple syrup, fresh mint, raspberries
3404 N. Miami Ave., Miami; prohibitionmiami.com or 305-438-9199
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