If there is one thing that isn’t in short supply in South Florida, it’s bars. Every bar claims to be unique, but most of them serve the same thing. However these bars have gone the extra mile to create a cocktail that’s more than just a unique drink. It’s an immersive experience. Check out the list below to set your adventurous taste buds on fire.
Sawa Restaurant and Lounge
360 San Lorenzo Ave., #1500
Coral Gables, FL 33146
Drink: Chocolate Nutella-tini
Located in the Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables, this Asian-meets-Arabic restaurant serves up a chocolate concoction that is sure to satisfy the most salacious sweet tooth. Bar Manager Fernando Salazar dreamt up this dessert martini in 2010 and coined it the Chocolate Nutella-tini. It’s the restaurant’s most popular drink and Salazar describes it as having a “coconut flavor to it with a touch of Godiva White Chocolate. It’s really milky but as soon as you taste it – the chocolate Nutella – it gives it a different taste because you have the chocolate Nutella rim on the martini.” So if you’re looking for an ice-cold sweet treat and don’t mind making a mess, this is the drink for you.
Related: Best Tequila Bars In Miami
The Villa by Barton G.
1116 Ocean Drive
Miami Beach, FL 33139
Drink: Orange Blossom Ice
The uber upscale Barton G. serves up a bevy cocktails from the Nitro-Bar that is a mad scientist’s dream. The Orange Blossom Ice is the most unique of all the drinks offered. The Thai basil broth freezes over ice cubes and then the vodka is frozen in nitrogen on a stick. Executive Chef Jeff O’Neill describes it as “a drink where the ice cube melts and then the liquor melts. The complete flavor changes and it gets stronger as you drink it.”
Broken Shaker at the Freehand Miami
2727 Indian Creek Drive
Miami Beach, FL 33140
Drink: Bartender’s Choice
At first glance, this charming, quaint bar in the midst of the string light-lit garden at the Freehand Miami Hostel looks like a great hideaway to escape the craziness of South Beach and listen to the likes of Corinne Bailey Rae. But then, as you analyze the drinks, you realize that Freehand has an excellent bar as well. Gabriel Orta is the managing partner and bartender along with his partner Elad Zvi of the one-year-old bar, but their claim to fame is the internationally recognized alcoholic beverage consulting firm, Bar Lab. Known for their unique libations, they use fresh herbs from an onsite garden and feature a drink menu that changes weekly so every drink is a unique experience. Orta recommends the Bartender’s Choice option where the bartender recommends drinks based on your preference. “A lot of people come here, they want a spicy drink and then the next round they want something sour and then next round they want something classic,” says Orta. “The next round they want something with champagne. The beauty of this place is that everybody in the bar, with help from the wait staff, is able to recreate drinks. You make your own drink as you go along.”
3599 N. Federal Highway
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
Drink: Kona Coffee Grog
Let’s say you’re a fan of the exotic and also a rabid coffee lover. If so, hop on over to Hawaiian-themed restaurant Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale for a taste of the unusual. This spot’s Kona Coffee Grog contains a coffee-honey combo along with flaming (yes, that’s right flaming) rum and a mix of top-secret spices served in a tiki mug. It’s a great way to have an Hawaiian experience without leaving Florida. Also a picture of you next to a flaming cup of coffee is a great photo opportunity to add to your Facebook collection.
The Orchid Bar
1004 Duval St.
Key West, FL 33040
Drink: Gin & Juice
This Key West hidden gem is located inside the Orchid Inn and though it’s small, its modern furniture makes locals feel like they’ve found a secret, sophisticated hangout. The menu features a list of signature cocktails but the best is also the most unexpected. Order the Gin & Juice cocktail made with Hendricks gin, fresh pink grapefruit juice squeezed in front of you and cucumber slices. Talk about refreshing!
Niema Hulin was born in Newark, NJ but raised in Lexington, South Carolina for the bulk of her formative years. In 2002, she moved to Miami after graduating from the University of Florida. Since then, Niema has worked in film, television and commercials as a Production Assistant and Production Coordinator. Some of her films have included Bad Boys II and I Am Number IV. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.