Once upon a time in Miami’s late-night bar scene, the best you could hope for was a watered-down mix of booze and juice sloshing around in a plastic cup. But over the past decade, the Magic City has ushered in a mixology renaissance that has put the world on notice. Now, handmade tinctures and bitters mingle in crystal coupes with artisanal ice and deliver a cocktail scene that looks and tastes sexy.

Whether you prefer your drink in a dimly-lit downtown dive or on a Polynesian-themed rooftop 40 storeys above ground, you can count on Miami to serve up an expertly-made boozy concoction. Need proof? These eight Miami cocktail bars will supply you with all of the evidence you need.

View looking directly down upon a glass containing a bright orange cocktail. The drink is muddled with crushed ice, and a wooden skewer with green and yellow fruits rests artfully across the rim, as well as a delicate sprig of flowers.
These days you can count on the mixologists of Miami to shake you up the perfect drink © Courtesy of Freehand Miami

 1. Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Company 

The fluorescent pink neon sign inside says it all: pursue happiness. That's pretty easy to do when you’re drinking at one of the top bars in the city. Although Sweet Liberty’s legendary owner, John Lermayer, died in 2018, his passion for collecting rare liquors and sharing his vast cocktail knowledge with the masses lives on in a clever drink list that’s divided into “fancy” and “classics.” Rum-and-raisin liqueur, mulled wine and absinthe all make an appearance in this kitschy local hang, where DJs spin until 5am and lobster hot pockets help soak up all that happiness.

How to get there: From Downtown, take Biscayne Blvd to NE 15th St and continue onto the Venetian Causeway. Take the S Venetian Causeway to Dade Blvd, turn right on Washington Ave and make a left on 20th St.

2. Kaido

James Beard–nominated chef Brad Kilgore has taken on the Japanese drinking den concept and the result feels like a glittering slice of Tokyo on the Miami mainland. Inside Kaido, shimmering blue and gold floors, vintage pachinko machines and a chandelier fashioned from 1200 golden butterfly knives all welcome guests to a drinking experience that rivals the best of the East, with a heady mix of exacting technique and no-holds-barred creativity. On the menu, you’ll find Kobe beef fat mingling with whiskey; togarashi-infused mezcal; and a pickle back that puts a twist on the usual chaser with a fragrant shiitake brine.

How to get there:
Take I-95 North and merge onto I-195 East from exit 4B. Exit on 2A for N. Miami Avenue and head east to NE 41st Street.

Related article: How to spend a perfect weekend in Miami

Inside a seductively lit cocktail bar with vintage decor and pendant lights suspended from the ceiling. Behind the bar there is a wooden cabinet stocked with bottles and ingredients.
The perennially popular Broken Shaker now also has branches in Chicago, LA and New York © Adrian Gaut

3. Broken Shaker

The Broken Shaker may be all grown up now (it currently has outposts in Chicago, LA and New York), but this lush garden oasis at the Freehand Hotel still calls its original location in Miami Beach home. And the growth was inevitable — its wildly imaginative elixirs and freewheeling tropical spirit are a bona fide recipe for success. The vibe feels like you’ve stumbled upon the funky backyard of someone’s cool aunt, where watermelon caipirinhas are sipped poolside during the day, and hip, young locals linger over crystal punch bowls at night.

How to get there: Take I-95 North to I-195 E. Continue onto W 41st St and turn right onto Indian Creek Dr.

4. Jaguar Sun

Located in the lobby of the hip X Miami apartments, the vibe at Jaguar Sun is an homage to the city it calls home — tropical and trendy with a dash of downtown edge. A Momofuku alum dishes up the small but mighty menu of eats here, which serves as the perfect compliment to the snappy cocktails created by a former bartender of Boston’s famed Drink. Tropical fruits pepper the cocktail menu as does a boozy punch bowl and a tightly-curated list of unusual wines. On Mondays, the bar hosts a wine-and-records night where sommeliers from around the city drop in with their new favorite vinos and musical jams.

How to get there: Head down US 1 until you reach I-95 North, then take exit 2D NE 2nd Ave. Follow NE 2nd Ave to NE 4th St.

Photo of a milky cocktail in a crystal glass with ice. Decorating the glass is a slice of a dried citrus fruit and three leaves of mint.
Prepare to get cozy with the other patrons at the diminutive ScapeGoat © Courtesy of Blue Shell Media

5. The ScapeGoat

What The ScapeGoat lacks in space, it more than makes up for in spectacularly audacious cocktails. This dark, brooding cocktailery tucked into South Beach’s SoFi neighborhood fits 40 thirsty patrons — max. And while elbow room isn’t necessarily promised, what you can count on is a wild sensory ride in your glass courtesy of the rare American-made liquors, blow torches, wood chips and artisanal ice that come together to make the experience here feel more like an intimate glimpse into a boozy science experiment than a night out at a bar.

How to get there: Take I-95 North to the MacArthur Causeway, then exit on Alton Rd. Turn right on Alton Rd and make a left on 1st St.

Related article: A revamped 1950s Miami hotel has a barbershop with a secret cocktail lounge

6. The Corner

The Corner, which is quite literally situated on the corner of a block dedicated to downtown Miami’s mega-club scene, feels like a throwback to an early 1900s pub. Wood beams, exposed pipe and oversized vintage mirrors set the scene for a low-key drinking experience that can easily last until 8am. Thanks to those very forgiving hours, the bar is typically littered with locals capping off their night with intimate conversation and a carefully concocted roster of  drinks — like a frothy egg-white-and-pisco number topped with an Inca orchid — served up at the bar or from the adjacent patio window.

How to get there: Head down US 1 until you reach I-95 North, then take exit 2D NE 2nd Ave. Take NE 11th St to North Miami Ave.

A rooftop bar scene; in the centre there's a huge covered bar, with intricate wood-carvings and wooden bar stools lining it, and the area is decorated with lush greenery. Part of the Miami skyline is visible beyond glass railings.
Photos or it didn't happen: Sugar promises Insta-worthy pics aplenty © Courtesy of EAST, Miami

7. Sugar at EAST

Looking for a cocktail with a side of a drop-dead stunning views? Sugar, the rooftop bar at EAST, Miami, has your back. The bar boasts a 270-degree view of the glittering Miami skyline, which, unsurprisingly, is quite popular on Instagram. But the immediate surroundings are no slouch, either — a lush green garden envelopes an impressive hand-carved wood bar that doles out exotic and tropical cocktails filled with Asian-inspired ingredients like Thai iced tea, lychee, tamarind chutney and Fuji apple bitters.  

How to get there: Take US 1 to I-95 North and exit on SW 8th St. Merge onto SW 3rd Ave and make a right on 8th St.

Related article: Espresso yourself: 7 best spots to sip Cuban coffee in Miami

8. Cafe La Trova

The long-standing friendship between James Beard Award–winning chef Michelle Bernstein and iconic Cuban cantinero (bartender) Julio Cabrera has produced yet another winning concept in Cafe La Trova. With its Cuban sensibilities, this 5,000-sq-ft throwback to old-school Havana nightlife attracts a lively crowd that clambers for Cabrera’s exquisite pours of classic Cuban cocktails served up in the highly-refined cantinero style. Naturally, daiquiris are on the menu, as are rum-and-tequila-laced concoctions that are combined with Cuban ingredients like guava marmalade and Materva, a mate-based soda. If you’re feeling peckish, pair your cocktail with an order of Bernstein’s paella-stuffed croquetas — maybe even two.

How to get there: Head west on SW 8th Street until you reach SW 9th Avenue.

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