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The Lost Art of the Cocktail

  • m

Hi All,

So slightly different than the usual post found on this board, though perhaps more common in other locales. Where do you all go for a perfectly made cocktail, creative/innovative custom drink lists, house infused liquors/house made ingredients? Sra. Martinez, to my knowledge, is the best at this craft in town. Unfortunately, their bar area is not really geared towards going in for a couple of drinks.

Has the W lobby given up on those ambitions? I had heard good things about the drink program at Urbanite but have never been. I have always been thoroughly underwhelmed by the drinks at Michael's, and wish they would place more of an emphasis on that aspect of the restaurant.

Where do you all go for a well crafted drink rather than the usual Miami vodka/tonic as far as bars go? What restaurants have you found with drink menus similar to Sra. Martinez?

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Sra. Martinez
4000 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, FL 33137

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    1. Thought I've only ordered their specialty drinks, Scarpetta is pretty serious about their drinks. Agree on Sra. Martinez. Joe Allen's is basic and good. Can't think of many other places.

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      Joe Allen Restaurant
      1787 Purdy Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

      Sra. Martinez
      4000 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, FL 33137

      1. We were at the W a couple weeks ago and I was very impressed by their bar menu. Lengthy, and a good mix of creative and classics, often updated. Though the rye berry smash I had went a bit overboard with the fruits.

        Bourbon Steak also has a serious bar program and mixes some very fine drinks.

        I always enjoy the "Sonny Rollins" they make at MGF&D for Sunday Brunch with bourbon, tea and some lemon & honey. Have heard good things about the kimchi bloody mary too.

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        Bourbon Steak
        19999 West Country Club Drive, Aventura, FL 33180

        2 Replies
        1. re: Frodnesor

          I forgot Bourbon Steak. They do make some incredible cocktails. I just wish it were closer to my apartment - though that would likely be a bad thing for the bank account!

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          Bourbon Steak
          19999 West Country Club Drive, Aventura, FL 33180

          1. re: mikek

            Agree. Forgot about B.S. Think because it's off the beaten path. Saw Zuma's list for the first time and had one meh cocktail and one delicious one. Bar looks sceney so it can be deceiving.

        2. Hakkasan makes some good cocktails but they are ridiculously expensive. Sra M is def the best bar in Miami when it comes to mixology. MGFD has a few good cocktails like the Bulliet proof manhattan, Sonny Rollins, and Kimchi Bloody Mary (from what Im told, I dont do bloodys myself) but I feel like the bar menu is more geared towards people like me who enjoy their spirits neat or on the rocks rather than mixed. Their bourbon selection is the best in Miami. They might not have as many as Bourbon Steak but they have some of the rarer and nicer bourbons.

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          Bourbon Steak
          19999 West Country Club Drive, Aventura, FL 33180

          Hakkasan
          Miami Beach, FL, Miami Beach, FL

          9 Replies
          1. re: Blind Mind

            Miami is a wasteland when it comes to mixology. Ask for a Tom Collins in any bar in town, and they will look at you like your head is spinning. I have yet to find a bar that makes drinks as good as I do at home. Which stinks. How could it be, not a single bartender in town knows how to make a proper Old Fashioned? It's insane! And people think Miami is a real city! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaa!

            1. re: ram2711

              From the attitude reflected by this post, I think I know what the problem is: you're ordering the wrong drink. There's a special cocktail I think you'd enjoy, it's a French/Yiddish concoction called a Dieu Schnozzle (or "God's Nose"). You should ask for one the next time you go to a bar in Miami.

              1. re: Frodnesor

                Frodo thanks for the advice. Keep enjoying your fruity drinks at the W, I'm sure they suit your refined palate just fine. Leave the opinions about the more masculine cocktails to others. Any bartender worth his salt will be able to make a correct Old Fashioned or a Manhattan. Those two drinks are a great gauge of a bartender's ability. If they can't, they don't take their profession seriously.

                1. re: ram2711

                  If your drink of choice comes traditionally garnished with maraschino cherries and a big orange slice, you're in no position to cast aspersions about fruity drinks. That's no slur on the Old Fashioned, it's one of my standard orders. But an Old Fashioned or a Tom Collins are hardly the drinks to go staking your masculinity on if you somehow regard fruit as an affront to masculinity.

                  If you want to actually find a Miami bar where they take cocktails seriously, try Sra. Martinez, Bourbon Steak (I had a very fine Corpse Reviver #2 there tonight), or indeed the W. If you just want to kvatch without actually heeding anyone's advice, well, I guess knock yourself out, but I'm not sure what the point is.

                  -----
                  Bourbon Steak
                  19999 West Country Club Drive, Aventura, FL 33180

                  Sra. Martinez
                  4000 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, FL 33137

                  1. re: Frodnesor

                    Sorry Frodo but you are incorrect. Vintage recipes for the Old Fashioned do not include a fruit salad. The muddled slice of orange and cherry is a more recent addition and adds nothing other than pulp. It really raises the hackles of many cocktailians and it's value has been endlessly debated online. The traditional garnish is a fat lemon twist whose oils have been expressed into the drink. I prefer a fat orange twist in mine and don't mind the cherry but flavor wise it adds nothing.

                    As has been stated by the original poster, we all know Sra Martinez makes great cocktails. He was asking for an alternative. Please try to keep up. In a county with over 3 million residents your 3 suggestions are appreciated but my original statement still stands, the drink culture in this town has a long way to go. Your Yiddish sayings are so very original and impressive, but to quote you: " I'm not sure what the point is."
                    Thanks

                    1. re: ram2711

                      If your original statement in fact was "the drink culture in this town has a long way to go," I wouldn't disagree. There are only a few bars in Miami that have serious cocktail programs and know what they're doing. There ought to be more.

                      But actually your original statement was "not a single bartender in town knows how to make a proper Old Fashioned." Oh, and also, "And people think Miami is a real city! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaa!"

                      And yes, OP was looking for an alternative to Sra. M, and I suggested a couple. (By the way, Mike, Urbanite Bistro closed). Another possibility which I have a bit less confidence in: Club 50 at the Viceroy. When we were there a few months ago, the bartender was a guy who used to be at Michy's and then Sra. M, and knows what he's doing. Don't know if he's still there, though.

                      1. re: Frodnesor

                        Not a single bartender I have come across can. Not that I know every bartender in town, but you know what I mean. Most will muddle the fruits or top off with soda and that is a not correct. Here is a nice write up on the history of the Old Fashioned complete with a history of known recipes: www.drinkboy.com/Articles/Article.asp...

                        Here is what I consider to be a well made Old Fashioned. While not totally traditional since a sugar cube and lemon twist is not used it is very good : www.smallscreennetwork.com/video/42/o...

                        1. re: ram2711

                          I dunno, the practice of muddling the fruit has a long enough history that at this point I'd call it a matter of personal preference rather than "correctness." This source says it goes back to at least 1936 ->
                          http://www.scribd.com/doc/19931/The-O...

                          I'm most definitely with you on the no soda, though.

                          Club 50 actually does an interesting, and fairly minimalist, Old Fashioned using Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 rum.

                          1. re: ram2711

                            Robert Hess is a great resource, but when it comes to old fashioned's there is a strong dividing line. Many esteemed bartenders agree with him. Others, such as Dale Degroff, insist that version of an old fashioned is for people who want some sugar in their bourbon. There are tasty variations in both camps.

                            Ram, I do not know where your expectations are, but if you approach a bar and they take out a container of pre-packaged neon cocktail cherries, you should already know to just hope the vermouth in your Manhattan isn't oxidized beyond recognition.

                            Personally I prefer mine with a large swath of orange peel, no soda.

            2. I actually made it to B Bar at the Betsy Hotel, and they had a nice custom drink menu.

              The unfortunate one is Florida Room, because their drinks and bartenders are considered some of the best in the world, but it treads too close to a club for me to fully enjoy that aspect of it.

              1. Mercadito makes some pretty killer cocktails!

                2 Replies
                1. re: Olivia255

                  I have had some hits and some misses with drinks at Mercadito. The Pepino el Pyu was nicely balanced and refreshing (tequila, cucumber, lemon, hoja santa, cumin salt) and the Little Market (tequila pineapple guajillo and piquin chiles) was also good; their "pirata" michelada was just nasty, though. They've got some interesting stuff that plays with sweet/savory boundaries with spices, chiles and herbs but it's far from a traditional cocktail bar (and doesn't try to be). Prices (mostly $9-11) are better than on South Beach too.

                  1. re: Frodnesor

                    I heard their Taqueria turns into a craft cocktail bar at night, but the last time I tried to go there were just people cleaning up. I know they got Tippling Bros. to make their menu, but did not love it when I was there. I am also not a huge tequila drinker, and that is the base liquor for most every cocktail.

                2. I just came back from a trip to N. Europe/London, and it always baffles me how great a cocktail culture these cities have and then I come back over here and pay similar prices for g&t just so they won't upset me with their version of a Manhattan. I've picked up quite a few books to learn about proper cocktails. Every two drinks I don't have in Miami equals one book or one bottle. Even then, you don't realize you're making a drink wrong until you find someone who makes a great version.

                  Bourbon Steak and Sra. Martinez do make some nice cocktails, as do a few Hotel Bars in Ft. Lauderdale. I've also had drinks twice at Norman's 180 and they were variable but decent. I am looking forward to trying 2top's suggestion.

                  -----
                  Bourbon Steak
                  19999 West Country Club Drive, Aventura, FL 33180

                  Sra. Martinez
                  4000 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, FL 33137

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Icantread

                    Don't get me started on the Manhattan. It's almost impossible to find a decent one in this town. While Sra. Martinez does make nice cocktails, as the original poster stated, it's not a place where you can comfortably drop by and have a couple of cocktails.

                    You made the right choice by buying some cocktail books. I only wish more bartenders around town would do the same. I recommend the Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan and The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale Degroff as two must have cocktail books. They are both excellent. Also check out Robert Hess's show called The Cocktail Spirit here: http://www.smallscreennetwork.com/sho.... His show is excellent.

                    Only by learning how to make a proper cocktail yourself, will you be able to judge how well others make them. Luckily doing this sort of research is quite fun.

                  2. Has anyone been to Rye at the Ritz? Is it worth checking out?

                    One of the hotels on Brickell needs to put a cocktail/speakeasy type of place in it. It would probably do pretty well with the Happy Hour/young professional crowd.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: mikek

                      Agreed! Thought about doing it myself, but there are issues with capital/learning curve, etc. that kept it as just an idea.

                      I have not been to Rye, and had forgotten until you mentioned it. If it's like the rum bar in Ritz Key Biscayne though, expect some hefty prices for the privilege.

                      1. re: Icantread

                        Same exact thought process here. If you do the Megu Club, PDT, Bourbon & Branch selectivity, exclusive, hidden, password, etc. thing it is bound to be a hit in Miami.

                        The guys from Florida Room need to do something that is not essentially a club. Their drinks are arguably the best in town, but it is not an environment where they can be enjoyed or really an environment where you want to wait around for them to be made.

                        1. re: mikek

                          I've been to Rye. It's ok. Decent bourbon selection and friendly staff. Kind of weird place for a bar but it's different. Basically a hotel lobby bar. I stuck w/ straight bourbon so I cant comment on mixed drinks. Pricing was a little high but I think they do a happy hour.