After a tragic year, this Miami Beach bar was just honored as one of the 50 best in the world

Sweet Liberty's Beast of Bourbon helped make the bar one of the world's 50 best for a second year in a row.Sweet Liberty

Maybe you already knew two of the best bars in the world are in Miami Beach. But now one of them is the new reigning king of cocktails in the Miami area.

The Miami Beach bar Sweet Liberty, started by the late John Lermayer, moved up the list of The World’s 50 Best Bars to No. 21.

Lermayer, who died unexpectedly June 6, was honored as an “industry icon” at the awards ceremony this week with a posthumous lifetime achievement award. There to receive the award were his partners in the bar, the celebrity chef spouse team of Michelle Bernstein and David Martinez, and co-founder Dan Binkiewicz (Blackbird Ordinary, The Bar in Coral Gables.)

“A true larger-than-life personality and an icon of innovation and entrepreneurship in the bar world, John Lermayer left a void within the industry that cannot be filled,” the committee wrote, calling him, “instrumental in transforming Miami into an internationally renowned drinks destination during a two-decade career.”

spirited awards
The late John Lermayer, owner of Sweet Liberty bar in Miami Beach, won a posthumous lifetime achievement award from the Tales of the Cocktails Spirited Awards.Handout

The surprise was that Miami Beach’s Broken Shaker, a perennial honoree since it became the first local bar to crack the list in 2014, dropped out of the top 50 altogether. It slid to No. 60.

Sweet Liberty, however, has been trending up since it debuted on the list last year, marking the first time two Miami-area bars made the list.

This time around, voters — more than 500 drink experts around the world — were smitten by the lengths to which the late Lermayer went to find unique drink ingredients. They quoted Lermayer’s mantra, “pursue happiness,” which is illuminated in neon at the bar.

“Sweet Liberty has become Miami’s most-loved bar. Lermayer’s spirit lives on and reminds us to ‘pursue happiness,’” they wrote. “Sweet Liberty retains a tightly knit team … and a bar that can seamlessly serve you some of the best cocktails, day or night.”

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