I’ll give it to you, summer. You’re cute. With your beach-worthy weather, tropical drinks, fancy sunblocks, and other summery niceties. But I’m more of a fall gal, myself (hello boots and leggings!). With that being said, I’m definitely not in the majority. In fact, I’m sure most of the country (especially those in the North) have already found themselves dreading counting down the remaining weeks of summer. If you’ve already found yourself on the verge of a “fall freakout” then it may be time to get away to a place where the heat’s present nearly year round and the cocktails are oh so Lushworthy. I’m talking about South Beach, Miami, ladies and gents.
I had the opportunity to visit Miami earlier this year and during my stay I spent one night at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach. Although The Ritz-Carlton is smack dab in the middle of all the action on South Beach, it boasts an inviting solitude. The lobby area is dimly-lit, but still warm. A nice change from the sensory overload one can endure on Collins Ave, which the hotel rests on the corner of. And the pool area, my personal favorite, is a welcomed surprise in a city where teeny, tiny rooftop pools seem to be all the rave. The pool itself is pretty large. Large enough to where if you happen to visit at the right time you may even be able to get your Michael Phelps on without swimming directly into a middle-aged, European tourist.
Sangria on the beach! A great way to beat any upcoming fall blues.
Oh, and did I mention the plethora of beachy cocktails available at The Ritz-Carlton South Beach? We’re talking sipping sangria while beachside and later moving to frothy, frozen drinks by the pool once you start getting sand in highly unwelcomed places. While on the beach we ordered the watermelon sangria, which was very refreshing. There were about four servings in the pitcher and while the sangria was tasty I felt like I had to drink it up pretty quickly to keep from sipping on a super-diluted sangria due to all the ice placed in the pitcher.
Let’s face it, even the most celebrated of foodies have found themselves dining at an Applebees or similar while on vacation due to their unfamiliarity with that city’s dining options or even a surplus of overwhelming, though sketchy, options. I’ve definitely found myself in similar situations while traveling, but during a recent trip to South Beach I think I may have found one of the best ways to uncover a slew of local favorites thanks to the South Beach Food Tour.
As part of the South Beach Food Tour, which is just one tour Miami Culinary Tours offers, guests have the opportunity to “enjoy delicious tastings at hole-in-the-wall and mom & pop type of restaurants” and “taste the best of Miami Beach’s global cuisine.” Hole-in-the-wall spots are sometimes called hole-in-the-walls for a reason, so I was a tad skeptical at first despite the stellar reviews South Beach Food Tour has received on Yelp.
The tour started out on a Lushworthy note, which is always a good thing. While noshing on finger-licking-good empanadas and ceviche at Bolavir, our first stop on the tour, we were also treated to a “Refajo.” The Refajo is a beer cocktail that combines Colombiana (a Colombian cream soda) and beer. A surprising combination, the Refajo was a sweet, refreshing, and slightly boozy beverage that I’m sure is ideal on those steamy South Beach days.
Arguably one of the best perks when it comes to staying at a resort is variety. You get to sip on a decadent, tropics-inspired cocktail by day and once evening hits you can hit the lounge for something a bit more sophisticated. Miami Beach’s The Palms Hotel & Spa has done a great job of providing it’s guests with both of those options.
Need something to sip on as you make your way from the swimming pool to the beach? Well, there’s The Palms’ Tiki Bar, which slings daiquiris and other frozen treats during the day. And if you’re in the market for a solid craft cocktail before you hit the streets of South Beach then Essensia, The Palms’ lone restaurant, has got you covered with their selection of seasonal and carefully-crafted sips.
In case you’re already feeling a little overwhelmed by The Palms’ variety of boozy options, I’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of of what I feel are the four must-have sips from The Palms. Check ’em out below! (Note: A handful of seasonal cocktails are no longer on the menu, so I’ve provided the names of the cocktails that are available now and are the most similar)
Winter Chai Martini from The Palms Hotel & Spa.
Winter Chai Martini (La Dolce Vita) – Behind my much-beloved pina colada is the Winter Chai Martini when it comes to my favorite cocktail from The Palms. A combination of Crop Organic Pumpkin Vodka, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Frangelico, star anise, cinnamon stick, and chai bitters, the Winter Chai Martini is rich with flavor and decadently delicious.
Since it is in fact the Winter Chai Martini, there’s probably a 99 percent chance that this cocktail is no longer on the menu, but if you’re looking for something somewhat similar then I’m sure La Dolce Vita, one of The Palms’ newest boozy additions, will do the job.
If you’ve ever been to South Beach then you know that dining on the sidewalk while 8,000 people walk past you and your teeny-tiny (and probably wobbly) table is kinda “the thing” down there. I’ve done it once and I can’t say that I’m a fan. Thankfully though, the food and cocktail scene in South Beach offers far more than cooped up sidewalk dining. While on a visit to Miami last month, a friend and I had the opportunity to attend a food and cocktail tasting at 660 At The Angler’s, which is located in The Angler’s, a boutique hotel situated on Washington Avenue.
Upon stepping into the bar and lounge area at 660 At The Angler’s it’s apparent that this ain’t your average South Beach joint. The decor is what I would describe as cozy Bohemian. There’s various shades of maroon, lots of gold details, and tons of decorative pillows (hence the cozy factor). The bar area is relatively small (it seats about four people) and lacks the Bohemian feel of the neighboring lounge. I was really a fan of the decor in the lounge, so I wish it would have transitioned into the bar area. But bars were meant for drinking and not getting your inner interior decorator on, so it obviously wasn’t a major flaw.
Speaking of bars, I had the opportunity to sample a handful of cocktails at 660 At The Angler’s including the El Diablo, Southside Fizz, and 660 Sangria. Here’s a little breakdown of each of those drinks.
El Diablo – Herradura Reposado, Creme de Cassis, fresh lime juice, and ginger beer.
Don’t let the devilish name fool you. The El Diablo is truly a sweetheart when it comes to the palate. The Creme de Cassis does a fine job of mellowing out the tequila and ginger beer always makes everything better. All in all, the El Diablo is both sweet and highly drinkable (i.e. you might just forget you’re drinking booze).
I haven’t been back in Atlanta more than 24 hours yet and already I’m eager to share the details of my recent trip to Miami. Miami (South Beach in particular) is a pretty popular tourist spot. So, I’m sure many of you are familiar with the hoity-toity mega-clubs and sidewalk cafes that charge you well over 30 bucks for a margarita with two gallons of ice plopped into it. Although I do have to admit that I did indulge in one over-priced, sidewalk margarita. What can I say? I just can’t avoid the allure of numerous, neon-hued straws.
Anywho, while taking the South Beach Food Tour (also “the move”) our tour guide pointed out a well-known, Miami Beach dive bar called Mac’s Club Deuce. She revealed that it was a favorite of Anthony Bourdain, and at that point I knew it was a place I had to check out before the end of my trip. Unfortunately, I waited until my last night on Miami Beach to check out this divey jewel, and here’s a few reasons why my visit to Mac’s Club Deuce was pretty damn amazing.
Cheap, Strong Drinks – You’re more likely to come across a three-legged unicorn than you are a cheap drink on South Beach. Thankfully though, the drinks at Mac’s Club Deuce are both affordable and potent. I switched between a Manhattan and Guinness the night I was there. The Manhattan was made using Maker’s Mark and was only $9 and the bottle of Guinness was $6.
Shenanigans – No good dive bar is complete without a surplus of shenanigans. So, here are just a few randomly hilarious and/or interesting moments I witnessed.
- A man riding his bike around the pool table.
- Two, Atlanta chicks hovering over the jukebox, singing loudly to Incubus and Outkast. And yes, I was one of them.