Once an empty wasteland few Miamians would dare visit at night, downtown Miami is quickly becoming a nightlife destination full of hip cocktail bars and sleek restaurants—and not just for pre-game or concert nights. From high-end spots to hipster hangouts and late-night haunts, here’s where you should be imbibing in the heart of Miami.
Indulgent? Maybe. But this celebrity favorite that serves up fancy pan-Asian fare and killer cocktails is definitely worth the occasional splurge. On weekends, the bar is packed and the dining room buzzing. The colorful decor designed by famed restaurant interiors guru Adam D. Tihany includes the venue’s anchor: a food market-style banquet where diners can pick out the fresh catch of the day to feast on. At the bar, try one of their dramatic cocktails served with hand-cut ice or sample a sake flight.
300 S Biscayne Blvd., Miami; www.novikovmiami.com
This place takes the concept of hand-crafted cocktails to an entirely new level. Celery juice, shaved coffee beans and coconut milk are among the ingredients that go into making their precious dranks. A Friend for Celery is a magnificent choice -- a light vodka concoction with a seaweed rim, it goes down smooth (almost too smooth), so sip slowly. It pairs perfectly with their spaghetti with clams. You’ll often find co-owner Will Thompson slinging drinks himself in between changing the music on a record player behind the bar.
230 NE 4th St., Miami; Www.jaguarsunmia.com
The Corner Bar
The Corner is where your evening ends in Downtown Miami, but perhaps should be where it began. Arguably the best bar in the area, this is the oldest and diviest. There’s no concept here (or at least one that makes sense). It’s all about good drinks served with a heavy hand and authenticity. The friendliest bouncers in town will welcome you in after checking your ID. Then you can pick your poison at the bar inside or via an outdoor service window where guests can meet the neighborhood’s characters. Expect to make new friends and random connections at this speakeasy-meets-pub purgatory for people who love good booze and people watching. There are also decent late-night eats to boot.
1035 N. Miami Ave., Www.thecornermiami.com
Mama sure did try to raise us right but despite her efforts, we still found ourselves here at 2 a.m. ordering a disco ball bowl of dangerously spiked punch and trying our luck at Pac-Man. Because, well, that’s just the kind of place Mama Tried is—one where we forget the rules (and ourselves) in exchange for late-night dancing, drinking and nostalgia. It could just be the mind-altering doses of sugary liquor concoctions consumed, but while hip and happening types may frequent this retro-looking spot, all are welcome and made to feel right at home. That’s how partners Dan Binkiewicz (Sweet Liberty, Purdy Lounge), Mauricio Lacayo (The Bend) and Domingo Murillo (Sidebar) like it. Twinkling fiber optic stars, gold disco lamps, jukebox, pool table, TVs, a Bookleggers library and fun and funky themed programming, round out the homey offerings.
207 NE 1st St., Miami; Www.mamatriedmia.com
This lively restaurant/bar by Chef Richard Sandoval serves up Latin American flavors via shareable plates and hand crafted cocktails. Sip on a Smokey Toro (gin, blood orange, lime, grapes, ancho reyes chili, cucumber) and nibble on any one of their impressive bar bites (Wagyu beef tartare recommended) while you enjoy the fragrant smokey aroma coming from the kitchen. Happy hour and lunch deals are a bonus and interestingly, this steakhouse offers spectacular vegan cocktails.
100 Chopin Plaza, Miami; www.torotoromiami.com
Part western saloon, part English pub, this downtown spot is housed in a former clothing store. Used Cowboy boots line the top of the bar; a painting of a naked blonde woman hangs above an unused bookcase; an exposed brick wall is covered with calf skulls; knit scarves from various soccer teams hang along a second level banister; a wooden frame creates a faux fireplace; an old piano lounging atop an Oriental rug anchors the room. Disparate decor aside, this is one of the best places to drink in all of Miami. Talented staffers from some of the area’s most successful craft cocktail joints (Sweet Liberty, The Broken Shaker) joined the Lost Boy ranks thanks to a laid-back atmosphere and thirsty clientele. Come for happy hour on a Friday evening and stay all night. Their “world famous” Sloppy Jose (a Latin take on the legendary American sandwich) can be your sustenance while you drink your way into the weekend.
157 E Flagler Street, Miami; www.lostboydrygoods.com
Housed inside the high-end Swiss watch F.P. Journe’s shop in the Kimpton EPIC Miami hotel, Bar Journe is a 10-seat rare liquor bar helmed by spirits expert (and founder of The Liquid Projects), Jennifer Massolo. Sip on rare and unusual liquors from around the world—handpicked by Massolo while you enjoy the views. Japanese whiskey, Soviet-era Moskovskaya vodka, 1968 Jose Cuervo Tequila and pre-embargo Cuban rum are among the hard-to-find spirits curated here. Seats are first come first serve unless you buy a membership that allows reservations, lockers for personal bottle storage, and invites to special events.
270 Biscayne Blvd Way, Miami; www.maisonfpjourne.com