When the weather gets hot, Miami mixologists tantalize the town with inventive cocktails infused with tropical notes and exotic fruit flavors. Here are six of our favorite creative concoctions — and the brilliant bartenders who make it all work — that will seduce your senses this summer. Salud!
Bar Centro, Miami Beach
The scene: Come dressed to impress at the swanky Bar Centro, nestled in the center of the SLS Hotel. The endless show of fashion, beauty, art and design conjure up a vibrant ambiance, made all the more intoxicating with a tempting cocktail in hand. Art Deco installations add glamour, and the outdoor space is a prime spot to soak in the sexy SoBe scene. Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker José Andrés also serves up delicious, tempting bites, such as Mediterranean mussels and conch fritters.
Mixologist mastermind: Jose Cespedes
Must-have summer cocktail: The Big Bison is a refreshing martini made with Zubrowska bison grass vodka, muddled cucumber, fennel seed syrup, fresh lemon juice and garnished with a bison grass blade imported from Poland.
Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, Wynwood
The scene: WKB, located in the heart of Miami’s emerging arts community, provides a hip, warm and laidback feel. An eclectic collection of graffiti art and larger-than-life abstract paintings adorns the walls, and a multi-colored, 11-foot sculptural man greets you at the entry. The grassy outdoor patio overlooks urban art park the Wynwood Walls. WKB regularly hosts events, such as its Taste of Americas tasting this summer that took diners on a culinary tour of Latin America. The series ends on July 25 with a celebration of Venezuelan delicacies, such as chicken and beef arepas (griddled corncakes), tequeños (doughy bread with cheese) and beef ropa (stew) with queso, rice and beans. Look for more happenings during Miami Spice, the city’s fine-dining fest running August 1 through September 30.
Mixologist mastermind: Dean Hall
Must-have summer cocktail: The Wynwood Inferno is a sweet new drink with a kick that features Don Julio Silver tequila, passion fruit and lime juices, jalapeño and cilantro.
Sushisamba, Coral Gables
The scene: With a lounge, an indoor and outdoor bar and alfresco seating, the new Sushisamba in Coral Gables has an energetic vibe that’s creating lots of buzz in the area among locals and visitors. The menu features artful signature dishes that combine cuisine from Japan, Brazil and Peru (sea bass anticuchos, or skewers, andchurrasco Rio Grande, a grilled ribeye), while the beverage program offers signature drinks that reflect the diverse culinary background. A breakfast menu presents exotic juices and a batida (a shake spiked with cachaça that’s famous in Brazil) bar. This spot also will join in Miami Spice.
Mixologist mastermind: Richard Woods
Must-have summer cocktail: A creative take on the Brazilian classic, the Kaffirinha is made with kaffir lime leaves infused in Leblon cachaça and churned with lime and sugar.
RUMBAR, Key Biscayne
The scene: Relax in the Old Havana-inspired RUBMAR at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami. The bar has a sultry yet relaxed ambiance with oversized leather couches, a Latin-influenced menu and cigars. Sip on more than 80 rums, cachaças and piscos from around the world, or order the rum flights — all while a four-piece band entertains with classic Cuban rhythms. Stop in to try RUMBAR’s own new specially crafted limited-edition rum from the Mount Gay distillery in Barbados.
Mixologist mastermind: Alex Rodriguez
Must-have summer cocktail: Old Dominican is a unique concoction that combines Atlantico Rum with lime juice, prosecco and mint from the resort’s herb garden in a martini glass.
Toro Toro, Downtown Miami
The scene: Young professionals flock to Toro Toro, a new steakhouse in InterContinental Miami that not only serves fine Latin American cuisine with flair, but it also has a trendy New York-esque lounge environment. The restaurant’s high-energy music and sleek design elevate the sophisticated feel. Mixologists keep things fresh with new cocktails, such as the Honey Bee Sour (vanilla-infused Capurro pisco, honey, lemon, egg whites and bitters), that are frequently added to the menu. Renowned chef Richard Sandoval puts a unique spin on pan-American flavors for savory dishes meant for sharing, such as the Emmentaler-filled Spanish ham croquettes with Chinese mustard and chipotle aioli. Drop by to taste the latest creations during Miami Spice.
Mixologist mastermind: Matthew Phillips
Must-have summer cocktail: Carnaval is a fruity libation made with Leblon cachaça, strawberry and passion fruit.
Living Room Bar, Miami Beach
The scene: The Living Room in the lobby at the W South Beach provides a modern, chic atmosphere with 20-foot windows, marble walls and lounge décor. The West Coast-style bar program turns out innovative libations — the tantalizing cucumber Collins and mango-ginger mojito immediately spring to mind — with interesting ingredients like edible flowers and essential oils. Refined bar food, such as Kobe and foie gras sliders and lobster with avocado and pork belly, deliver big on taste. Enjoy every bite and sip from a terrace that provides prime people-watching and celebrity-sighting opportunities.
Mixologist mastermind: Scott Beattie
Must-have summer cocktail: The Paloma Hermosa is a visually striking drink made with a blend of Taxation Blanco tequila, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, fresh grapefruit, agave, egg whites, and garnished with lime wheels and edible flowers.
Photos Courtesy of Skott Snider, Felipe Cuevas, SushiSamba and Andres Aravena