Todd Obolsky is author of the 2nd Edition of Hg2 Miami and a freelance writer based in New York. Having propped up enough of Miami‘s bars to earn serious hedonist credentials, nobody knows the city’s drinking trends better than Todd.
Yes, Miami drinkers are a bit strange in their habits. Where else would the hottest place to down inebriating beverages of any kind be… a parking garage? (It’s spectacular, naturally.) Alas, as of this writing, the structure at 1111 Lincoln Road is only an event space, and not a full-on drinking establishment… but it’s probably only a matter of time. One can’t help but think that everyone who visits the city is on a giant bender, one that lasts the entire time they’re here. Liquor isn’t just everywhere; it’s often the main topic of concern. It’s mentioned even in situations that would normally preclude its consideration (see: breakfast). Even away from Ocean Drive, Washington and Collins, alcohol rules. All the non-beach social activity is usually centered on hard alcohol (as muy overpriced bottle service) and mixed drinks, with the mojito, martini and the sweet umbrella drink cast as the liquid equivalent of Mafia family heads.
Yet, there is room in Miami for drinkers of beer and wine. You may have to look a little deeper for a venue of choice, but a fan of the golden beverage does have options. Among others, there is The Abbey (decidedly casual yet deadly beer-serious) and Gordon Biersch (a somewhat corporate take on the brew pub). The football hooligan can opt for Finnegan’s Way (or Finnegan’s 2) or the eau-de-frathouse-fragrant Playright on Washington, or Hofbrau on Lincoln Road, depending on where one’s sporting sympathies lie. Any connoisseur would do well to check out ‘the room’, where the six dozen tap and bottled selections consist of Americans and a healthy Belgian contingent along with representatives from the Caribbean, Germany, Japan, Scotland and Canada.
For oenophiles, it’s trickier to find quality offerings; upper-end restaurants are often good bets. Probably the most notable ones can be found, with a little perseverance, on Lincoln Road in the form of Eno’s (a cafe and store with 60 labels available by the glass and close to a thousand more in stock) and Meat Market (which is practi- cally required to maintain its heady wine list of 350 international varieties to stand up to all that meat). In the heart of South Beach, The Setai and Prime One Twelve (with its attractive brick-backed bar) are standout spots, as are The River and the Four Seasons in Downtown . With all the players here, Champagne is more readily available (and more highly-priced) than in other major cities. If you’re feeling romantic, without a doubt the best place to count the tiny bubbles in a romantic setting is the Spire Bar at sunset. If you’re not looking for an amorous evening, The Bar at Level 25 will certainly fulfill your requirements – and there are always hotel guests buzzing about if you change your mind.
Buy the updated online Hg2 Miami guide here. Coming in print Summer 2011.