It’s no easy feat to select the best 8 bars in Miami, so this list is a good representation rather than a definitive choice.
Naming the best 8 bars in Miami is like naming the best beaches or shopping areas. Much depends on your taste, and you’re bound to miss out on other great choices.
If you think Miami is only good for fruity, frilly drinks to be sipped with the sand between your toes, think again. There are bars to suit all types of drinkers, from upscale cigar bars, Irish pubs, swanky rooftop cocktail or wine bars, hi-fi listening lounges, and more. Here’s a smattering of some of the best of the best Miami has to offer:
When it comes to cocktail bars, Kaiju — compact and intimate — takes some beating. Located inside The Citadel food hall in Little River, the anime-inspired menu appeals to hipsters and cocktail connoisseurs alike. Many drinks are named after anime monsters, and some serious alcoholic engineering has gone into creating these monstrous tasty treats.
Jolene Sound Room
Jolene, Jolene, Jolee-eene! Don’t let the location fool you. Sitting beneath a Walgreens in Downtown Miami, Jolene Sound Room is a basement bar heavy on the bass. This sound room/listening lounge/hi-bar keeps the drinks and beats flowing. There’s even a dance floor to help evenly distribute the booze around your body. A sister location in Brooklyn keeps the speakers shaking further up the East Coast.
Ball & Chain
History and nostalgia make great bedfellows at this legendary haunt in Little Havana that dates back to 1935. Equally legendary musicians such as Billie Holiday and Count Basie once used to grace the Ball & Chain stage. There’s still live salsa dancing every night, which pairs well with the Cuban-inspired drinks served at the bar.
Out with the old, in with the new. John Martins in Coral Gables was reborn after shutting down during Covid, replacing a traditional Irish pub’s shamrocks and woody decor for something more in keeping with contemporary Dublin. Don’t worry; there’s still a selection of Irish beers and whiskeys, but the Irish BBQ sauce wings are new and unique to the area. The John Martin’s Burger is another beloved mainstay, but for more finely tuned palates, the braised short ribs served atop truffle corn puree with an Irish demi-glace will have your taste buds river dancing all the way home.
Niu Wine was named one of the best bars in America by Esquire. This cozy wine bar is ideal for a chilled-out night with a bottle of vino and some Spanish bar snacks. The narrow space, candlelight, and dim lights make this a perfect location for a date or a small dinner party. The fun aspect of this place is that there’s no wine menu. The owner will bring you out snacks and bottles to sample. A rotating food menu with tapas faves such as bacalhau with sofrito aioli, charcuterie, and a spiced chocolate truffle keeps this exciting and unpredictable.
Landshark Bar & Grill
Landshark Bar & Grill is a corporate restaurant with locations throughout the US. However, it’s a classic South Beach waterfront bar in Miami that is part of the late Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville brand, serving breezy drinks such as margaritas, mojitos, and various frozen concoctions. The ocean view, marina, fresh air, and live entertainment make this beach club bar quintessential Miami.
The Cleat is hard to find but worth the search. This Key Biscayne Bar is located inside Bill Baggs State Park on the southern tip of Key Biscayne and enjoys unparalleled waterfront views. It wallows in a classic, laid-back Keys vibe with panoramic views. There’s occasional live music, but beware — the unique location comes with a hefty drink price.
El Vecino is a cigar lounge that welcomes smokers and non-smokers alike. Ariete’s Michael Beltran has flipped the script regarding smoke, mostly male-filled rooms. Located next to Brasserie Laurel, 1,600 square feet of dark woods, dim lights, and fine wines also come with a state-of-the-art air filtration system. An after-dinner drink at the bar no longer means coming home smelling like you spent an hour rolling around in tobacco leaves.
This is just a sample of Miami’s diversity when searching for a watering hole to suit your preference. Whether you’re a shorts and flip-flops person or prefer to sink into a more intimate atmosphere, Miami won’t disappoint.