Club + Bars

Miami bar, brewery, lounge and nightclub openings, plus big plans for hotel nightlife

In an unbelievably unseasonable push, Miami and its beaches are bustling with development and news in the nightlife stratosphere. Here’s a summary of the hottest changes unfolding before our sun-kissed eyes:

Making Moves

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Josh Wagner, nightlife guru and former managing partner of LDV Hospitality’s food and beverage program at The Gale, is taking his talents to “Mid-Beach” where the Edition, 2901 Collins Ave., is essentially rising out of thin air. The sleek urban resort, set to open in Nov., boasts big plans for a restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges, a gourmet marketplace, a lobby bar with a direct view of the ocean (the only in Miami Beach, they say), an alfresco movie theater and private beach, plus a few outdoor bars. As the new Director Culture and Entertainment, Wagner is in charge of all the fun this hotel has to offer. That includes a full floor dedicated to entertainment complete with an ice skating rink slash nightclub (true story!) and a bowling alley. Wagner has bowled at the White House’s exclusive Harry S. Truman Bowling Alley, so place your bets wisely and spare yourself the embarrassment.

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Bartender extraordinaire Julio Cabrera, aka “Papa Doble,” continues his long-standing relationship with celebrated chef Michelle Bernstein as she consults for Mid-Beach’s forthcoming Thompson hotel at 4041 Collins Ave. Cabrera, who flexed his cocktail skills with Bernstein at Sra. Martinez and Michy’s, is developing the beverage program with colleague Danny Valdez from The Regent Cocktail Club. He tells us they’re working on original recipes to accompany classic cocktails for the chef’s new restaurant at the Thompson as well as every bar at the hotel.

A Little Luxury

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The Epic hotel is ushering in a sophisticated alternative to the Miami club scene with a proper cocktail lounge called LILT, a loaded word referring to a spirited and cheerful rhythm. It opens to the public Thursday, Aug. 21 with live music, food by executive chef Wolfgang Birk, and innovative cocktails and classics by Area 31’s head bartender Dean Feddaoui. If you can get past the irresistible Champagne cart delivering bubbles by the glass to your seat, you’ll probably fall in love with Feddaoui’s “Red Square,” a gin-based cocktail with Solerno blood orange liqueur, house-made blood orange marmalade, fresh lemon, ginger and egg whites. The “Death in the Afternoon,” on the other hand, is steeped in history. It was invented by Ernest Hemingway in the 1930s and features absinthe and Champagne. Similarly, the “1919 Firenze” graces the menu with gin, vermouth, and Campari (hint: it’s another name for the famed Italian aperitivo the Negroni).

What’s more, LILT partnered with National YoungArts Foundation to showcase musical acts and solo performances by YoungArts alumni every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Melissa Goldstein — performing here at the YoungArts gala — will anchor Tuesday nights. Local crooner Cleveland Jones takes the stage Friday nights and assorted local/touring musicians will play Saturday nights.

LILT Lounge at the Epic, 2070 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami. Hours: 6 p.m. – 2 a.m. Tuesday – Saturday.

Steamy Nights

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The 17,000-square-foot site of the former Vagabond is nearly ready for its debut as downtown Miami’s newest entertainment compound. The three performance-driven nightlife concepts by Ramp Management Group, 30 NE 14th St., offer interactive theatrical parties at Steam, password-protected entry to Railroad Blues (an intimate speakeasy-style bar with live blues), and an alfresco concert space behind the main venue called The Backyard. Steam opens Friday, Aug. 14, Railroad Blues opens Aug. 21, and details about The Backyard are still TBA. Read more.

Steam’s hours: 11 p.m. till late Thursday – Saturday.

Teach Me How to Swizzle

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South Beach’s first Korean BBQ restaurant is currently enjoying its ranking as the darling of Miami’s foodie scene and, fortunately for local cocktail geeks, Drunken Dragon’s bar menu is getting an upgrade this month. Tiki master Gui Jaroshcy of The Broken Shaker is concocting a list of eight new drinks, including the frosty Dragon Swizzle. Dive in to the Caribbean powerhouse with Bacardi and Appleton rum, fresh grapefruit, demerara syrup and a house-made swizzle mix [Cointreau, Falernum (lime, almond, ginger), Pernod], topped with Angostura bitters and served over crushed ice with fresh mint. You’ll have to watch closely as the bartender on duty employs a swizzle stick made from the bark of the Swizzle Stick Tree (a Caribbean native named Quararibea turbinata) to manually mix the drink with speed and sass. Miami style!

The new cocktail menu launches mid-August.

Searching for Better Days?

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Brickell’s first pop-up cocktail bar throws a grand opening party with complimentary drinks and beers in a decidedly incognito location Friday, Aug. 8. To find Better Days, read on.

Super Crafty

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Wynwood welcomes its newest craft beer brewery, Concrete Beach Brewery, 339 NW 24th St., to the neighborhood this October.

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And, J Wakefield Brewing, 120 NW 24th St., is also opening in Wynwood soon.

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MIA Brewing Co., a production brewery in Doral that opened at 10400 NW 33rd St. after many delays, is putting the finishing touches on a taproom, which will be open to the public in the coming months. A beer garden is also in the works on the property. MIA’s first brew, a hefeweizen, should be available at a handful of local bars by the end of the month. (Not to be confused with the Schnebly’s Miami Brewing Company in Homestead.)