Miami’s top lounges and bars

Miami nightlife is changing. Who knew that doorman delusions of grandeur, unexpected cameos on ‘South Beach Tow’ and the small loans needed to “pop bottles in the ice, like a blizzard” would all contribute to the growth of Midtown and the beginning of the end of South Beach as the “locals only” haunt for debauchery.

The new trend is a cocktail culture of proper lounges, dive bars and speakeasies. Here the venue size matters less than the quality of your nightlife experience. The only constant seems to be that nobody is dancing, with the exception of a few drunk girls, of course, or the couch boppers, who move their shoulders and raise their hands but God forbid they get up to get down.

Here are five lounges that are reshaping Miami’s nightlife scene.

Blackbird Ordinary
729 SW First Ave., Miami
The Mad Men behind Purdy Lounge bring you this mid-century bar with a fine selection of liquors that make handcrafted cocktails that would make Don Draper blush. Brickellites come for their no frills approach to proper cocktailing. Each wrap-around booth comes with its very own herb plant, but trust me, don’t bother smoking it. However if you get the munchies, you can have food delivered from La Moon next door. Soon they will introduce live music and despite my suspicions, I was assured that dancing was always encouraged here.
Music: Bob Marley, Beastie Boys, Queen, Red Hot Chili Peppers
Drink: Mourning Dove- a Guinness mixed with a shot of bourbon, a whole egg, cinnamon and vanilla.
Prices: $8 to $13; beers $4 to $7
Deal: Happy Hour 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. (2-4-1)
Open: Mon-Fri 3 p.m. – 5 a.m. and Sat – Sun 5 p.m. – 5 a.m.
Parking: Street parking, valet on weekends

1234 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
This ain’t your pa’s pool hall. Even though it’s on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach, locals have been flocking to this adult playground where you can watch sporting events or play board games, Olympic standard ping-pong or billiards. Housed in the old vault of a former bank is one of two private rooms where you can be a DJ (the room is equipped with an iPod deck and iPad with satellite radio). “We are redefining the meaning of ‘getting a table on South Beach’” says Veronica Gessa, Chalk’s Duchess of Fun. She adds: “There’s no food, just eye candy.” If they loosen up and get a proper jukebox it could successfully transform into the late-night choice where everyone inevitably returns for one more round of beer goggle boggle.
Music: Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash, Arctic Monkeys, Oasis
Drink: Smooth Criminal (Ketle One Vodka, St. Germain, Strawberries)
Prices: $7-$13
Deal: Daily happy hour with half-priced cocktails 7-9 p.m.
Open: Everyday 7 p.m. – 5 a.m.
Parking: Valet, Meters and Parking Garage on 12th St.

The Corner
1035 N. Miami Ave., Miami
Don’t judge a bar by its ’hood. It may be within stumbling distance from Gold Rush, but the only panty droppers here are in the form of libations, like their Ginger Rogering, made with gin and ginger beer. “The Corner is like pit row at a hipster NASCAR race” says DJ Haitian Hillybilly. Who knew everyone was a mixologist, including the homeless guy outside, who offered me a swig off his bottle for a cigarette.
Music: Joy Division, Ray Charles, Nirvana, The Killers
Drink: Elder Statesman: Bulleit Bourbon, St. Germain, Aromatic Bitters
Prices: Drinks range from $10 – $14
Open: Sun-Thu 4 p.m. – 5 a.m. and Fri-Sat 4 p.m. – 8 a.m.
Parking: Street Parking

1426-A 14th Ct., Miami Beach
You enter this South Beach speakeasy through the gritty alley with no proper sign, just an unmarked door sans velvet ropes with a red light, and soon realize why their motto is “You don’t have to be a s***hole, to be a dive bar.” Tourists may thrive at Ted’s Hideaway but this gin joint was built for locals, by locals. Judging by the arsenal of guns, rifles and grenade launchers used as décor, they seem prepared to fight for their right to party. The arcade is equipped with old school video games, a dartboard and pool table and the jukebox is the main source of their tunes, except on weekends, when guest DJs spin. If you’re looking for a scene, turnaround, this drinking hole was built for lounging and fox hunting.
Music: Billy Idol, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Notorious B.I.G.
Prices: Beers start at $5, cocktails at $10
Deal: Daily happy hour 5-8pm; $3 beers, $5 drinks
Open: 7 days a week from 5 p.m. – 5 a.m.
Parking: Street parking, valet on weekends

Wood Tavern
2531 NW Second Ave., Miami
Miami’s hottest gallerinas and misfits gather at this proper neighborhood bar and newly expanded beer garden. Whether for their large craft beer selection, inexpensive prices or impeccable music taste, hipsters have been flocking here as if Morrissey himself were tending bar. The bar manages to bring out the Brooklyn in Wynwood while maintaining its own identity. The drink menu is presented on a small plank of wood, the walls are adorned with funky wallpaper and movie posters, plus they have the Pancho Taco stand outside. Check out their latest ritual Backyard Boogie BBQ with ribs and burgers worthy of your Sunday’s Best. Would I go back again? I wood.
Music: Pulp, Phoenix, David Bowie, M83
Drink: Jeremiah Sweet Tea
Prices: Drinks start at only $5.
Deal: Happy hour Wednesday through Friday with 30 percent off already inexpensive drinks
Open: Wed-Fri (6 p.m. – close) Sat (5 p.m. – close)
Parking: Street Parking