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Owners of SoBe’s Craft Social Club are raising the bar for cocktails

L.P. Steele, left, and R.T. Murphy
L.P. Steele, left, and R.T. Murphy

Like luxuriating over an expertly prepared adult beverage instead of throwing down shots to a thumping beat? Then Craft Social Club may be a good spot for you. The new venue at 100 Collins Ave. in Miami Beach is all about the art of the cocktail, where they’ll whip you up — tableside — a cheekily named drink chock full of uniquely zany ingredients (think pear cider, pink peppercorn and grapefruit basil soda). We’ll let the owners L.P. Steele and R.T. Murphy explain:

How do you describe your bar’s concept?

L.P.: My background is marketing, identifying and targeting trends, building campaigns. To me, the world of so-called craft cocktailing — meaning a particular attention to each element, from the recipe to ingredients and delivery — was initially a new segment of the industry I had to learn. I drank the Kool-Aid and soon realized this wasn’t a trend, this was a culture, a way of life, with its own community and hierarchy. It’s inspired me and taken me down a path I never envisioned for myself.

R.T.: The idea of doing all the things we ourselves love as a consumer and bringing them together excited us. It is also about bringing something new and exciting to an arena that may have a lot of repetition. CSC is a reflection of what we love to see and experience when we go out.

What is the hot drink for 2016?

L.P: Can’t say, exactly. For us, it’s all about the presentation. Guests want a full cocktail experience, and that includes a “shareable” moment. Our focus is on great tasting cocktails that have a wow factor. Our goal is ensure fresh products and innovative recipes and educate consumers on how to move beyond a vodka-soda or rum and Coke.

R.T.: We’re all about combination of ingredients to create unique flavor profiles. One example is our house-crafted hibiscus-rose soda water. We use it as a stepping stone, and it’s been a big hit. Another favorite on the menu is the N.W.A., or Negroni With Attitude — made with beet washed gin, bitters, orange oil and [Italian aperitif wine] Cocchi Americano Rosé.

How do you guys plan to stand out from the pack?

L.P.: Aside from the fact we are the first to build cocktail suites and feature a craft bottle service program, our major aim is to bring hospitality back to Miami. We want every one of our guests to feel special, to know their experience matters.

R.T: Authenticity. Even if we do put some focus on industry trends, we tend to not specifically compare ourselves to anyone. At our core, we want to be an approachable form of nightlife, where the second you walk in you feel like you know everyone and your home. Our vision of a dressed-up Cheers.

What kind of music are you playing?

L.P.: Long live hip-hop!

R.T.: We have an eclectic music program grounded in classic hip-hop. But we aren’t scared to get into some more soulful beats or even ’90s alt rock to give the room a little shot in the arm, and to go with some of ’90s-inspired drink names like the Champagne Supernova.

How do you see Miami’s nightlife scene evolving?

L.P.: I see a shift to a smaller, more intimate environment — across the nation, too. With that said, don’t jump off the mega-club bandwagon just yet; there is still the demand for over-the-top, extravagant spaces, with enormous nightly talent. We have some of the best in the world doing that right here with the likes of LIV, Story and newcomer Rockwell.

R.T.: There will always be a need for the large format, but the service level and what is expected from a consumer will continue to raise the bar on what actually exists inside these venues small or large.

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