Miami’s cocktail scene has traditionally been centered around the polished venues of South Beach, where high-end bars and velvet-roped nightclubs abound. Ocean Drive and Washington Avenue, however, have gained some stiff competition in recent years.
Acclaimed mixologists are converging in Wynwood, the flourishing arts district that is home to endless street art (both curated and spontaneous), illustrious dining experiences, and now, some of Miami’s most sought-after cocktail bars.
“What’s really great about all of these places in Wynwood,” says Dana Rhoden, President of PR firm The Dana Agency, “is that they’re unpretentious alternatives to cocktailing in Miami. You can feel comfortable wearing your flip flops or going there straight from work, while still getting expertly crafted cocktails with fresh ingredients from really well-known mixologists.”
Oftentimes growing their own ingredients and incorporating fascinating, unexpected elements, “They are putting as much thought into a cocktail as a chef would a dish on the menu at a James Beard [award-winning] restaurant.”
In that spirit, here are four of our favorite, highly walkable cocktail bars in Wynwood, located just 30 minutes from Acqualina Resort & Spa:
Tucked alongside the award-winning Alter Restaurant on NW 23rd Street, Bar Alter is a small outdoor bar with a singular cocktail menu. Take your seat amidst the greenery and order one of Head Barman Gustavo Martinez’s distinct, handcrafted creations (complete with a skull-capped toothpick).
“I will always recommend the Flor de Jalisco,” he says of the cocktail made with Vida Mezcal, Casa Noble Reposada Tequila, strawberry jam, pineapple, and hell fire bitters. “It is a cocktail with character and [is] loaded with bold, tropical flavors. I’d like to think that people come to Alter and Bar Alter to step out of their comfort zones and taste the unexpected.”
The most unique cocktail would have to be the bittersweet Pillow Talk, made with Hendricks gin, Grand Classico, dandelion burdock bitters, and a celery and fennel foam. (It’s also Rhoden’s personal favorite.) Order it before you head to Alter Restaurant for dinner, or pair it with a plate of delectable Umami Balls from the outdoor kitchen. “Going there and getting Umami Balls and an amazing cocktail,” says Rhoden, “is the best way to end the week.”
Photo: Bar Alter
Beaker & Gray
A collaboration between Executive Chef Brian Nasajon and Bar Manager Ben Potts, Beaker & Gray features exceptional, globally inspired cuisine and inventive cocktails like the Lavagave (Don Julio Blanco, Fidencio Mezcal, lavender, egg glair, grapefruit, and vanilla bitters). Cocktail enthusiasts are drawn to the ever-popular happy hour, and the North Miami Avenue favorite unveils a few creative new cocktails each quarter.
Potts likes to recommend the Fill in the Blanc made with Remy Martin 1738 cognac, Pineau des Charentes, and chardonnay. After being mixed, carbonated, and bottled, this libation is enjoyed in champagne-cocktail style. Says Potts, “We have a selection dedicated to cocktails that are innovative with regard to what’s generally available – it may not be the bleeding edge of progressiveness, but it’s something attainable.”
Photo: Beaker & Gray
Charcoal Garden Bar + Grill
Known for its locally sourced, charcoal-grilled seafood and meats, Charcoal Garden Bar + Grill is a one-of-a-kind Miami restaurant built entirely from modified shipping containers. The NW 29th Street establishment is located in The Wynwood Yard – an enclave of restaurants, food trucks, and airstream trailers that offers programming every night of the week from live music to yoga – and the seasonally rotating cocktail menu is not to be missed.
“Our most inventive cocktail currently on the menu is the Disco Lemonade,” says Bar Manager Chris Sanz. Featuring rye, Velvet Falernum, ginger syrup, fresh lemon juice, blue basil straight from the garden, and cardamom, “It’s the perfect balance between spicy, sweet, and aromatic.”
His go-to recommendation is usually the Classic Pimm’s Cup, which was nominated as one of the best summer cocktails by Miami New Times (Pimms #4, Tyler’s City London Dry, fresh lemon juice, lemon-lime soda, cucumber, celery, and mint). And by mid-October, visitors can expect an array of new libations from Sanz that are perfect for fall.
Photo: Charcoal Garden Bar + Grill
Miami Mojito Company
Having originally opened as a secret popup bar during last year’s Art Basel, Miami Mojito Company became a permanent destination on the Wynwood cocktail circuit when cocktail enthusiasts realized that its fresh fruit mojitos were simply too good to let go.
The miniature tiki bar, which Rhoden calls funky and unexpected, is almost invisible from the road. (You can access it through the Plant the Future corridor on NW 2nd Avenue.) “If you blink, you’ll miss it,” says Rhoden. “It’s a secret hideaway in the middle of Wynwood.”
Owner Cesar Morales, who also owns the adjacent Wood Tavern and Bar Next Door, was inspired to create the stand after a recent trip to Brazil. The mojitos are made with fresh sugar cane juice pressed on site daily, and the selection currently includes the best-selling Classic and Passion Fruit Mojitos, as well as Tamarindo, Raspberry, Blackberry, and Pineapple.
Photo: Miami Mojito Company
Featured Photo: Bar Alter