South Beach is to bad bars what Wisconsin is to cheese. And if you’re not careful, you’ll end up at a place that serves margaritas by the gallon and sneakily includes a 99% tip on your tab. But it’s not all scammers and gross cocktails in South Beach. There are bars that don’t completely suck and, in fact, some places we truly love to drink. Like these 10 spots.
Swizzle is a bar that feels like a cross between a tiki bar and a speakeasy - or a tiki-easy, which is a word we just made up that’s as fun to say as this bar is to drink at. Even though it’s only three short steps below the lobby, Swizzle is dimly lit and cozy, and will make you feel like you’re in the hull of an old wooden ship. The drink menu is extensive and unanimously excellent, especially the swizzle cocktails.
There is really never a bad time to come to Sweet Liberty. They’ve got one of our favorite Happy Hours, with cheap oysters and some of the best cocktails in the city. The late-night scene is fun without feeling sloppy, and the bar food here is top notch, with a great fried chicken sandwich and potato chips and caviar. This place is everything we love about South Beach: sexy and colorful and not afraid of a hot pink neon sign, without any of the nasty overpriced stuff you’ll eat and drink on Ocean Drive.
Among the Maseratis and billion-dollar hotels you’ll find up and down South Beach is Mac’s. This is Miami’s best dive bar, and has been the most reliable place to escape South Beach in South Beach for well over 50 years. It’s dark, charmingly grimey, has a two-for-one Happy Hour special from 7am-7pm daily, and feels like a place where they’d film an episode of Miami Vice. In fact, they did - and the neon sign that hangs above the bar was installed by the television show’s crew. Not much has changed here much since then.
Minibar is located inside South of Fifth’s Urbanica Hotel. It’s technically a hotel bar, but locals drink here too. Like the name implies, it’s a very tiny place, though they also have some courtyard seating that makes things a tad more spacious. Despite the square footage, it’s one of the South of Fifth’s better drinking options - especially if you’re looking for something more casual. Cocktails are simple but tasty, and Happy Hour is from 5-9pm, a good call if you want to drink cheap in one of South Beach’s most expensive neighborhoods.
ScapeGoat is another very small cocktail bar in South of Fifth, where you might see the bartender climb into the ceiling to fetch a bottle from the attic. The cocktails here are very good, but the atmosphere shifts depending on the time and day. Come early and you can have a relaxed conversation and a drink before dinner. On weekend nights, it can get a little crowded and loud enough that having a conversation might require mild yelling. But it’s a solid Happy Hour option or a good place to kill time if you’re waiting for a table at Joe’s, which is just down the street.
So Broken Shaker is technically in Mid-Beach. But, it’s really not that far from South Beach, and if you’re looking for places to drink in the area it’s worth considering. The outdoor bar is immensely popular because it’s a beautiful space - with poolside seating and a lush landscape. Broken Shaker also has one of the best cocktail menus in the entire city. If you’re coming on a weekend night, expect a crowd (and maybe even a line to get in). Still, it’s one of our favorite places to drink in Miami.
Abbey Brewing Company
The Abbey is a little pub in South Beach that has a great beer selection, a full liquor bar, and is really the only place you want to be drinking on Lincoln Road. Abbey is our favorite place to grab a beer and play darts if, for some reason, we’re in the area and need to kill some time. They do allow smoking inside though, so be prepared to smell like a cigarette after you leave.
Palace isn’t strictly a bar. They serve food, but you really come here to drink and watch drag, which makes it a bar in our eyes. The iconic gay bar is open till 1am during the week (and usually later on weekends), but the best time to come here is for their famous drag brunch, when you get a couple hours of bottomless mimosas and the best sidewalk drag show of your life.
South of Fifth is the last place you’d expect to find a dive bar like Ted’s. But this hot pink building is a reliably grimy drinking experience, if that’s what you’re into. Come here to play pool, have your shoes stick to the floor when you walk, and drink simple well drinks or pitchers of beer. It’s pretty chill during the day but can get a little rowdy on weekend nights. You can also bring your dog, who will enjoy all the odd smells here.
Watr is a rooftop bar and restaurant on the roof of 1 Hotel, which is right on the northern border of South Beach. A few things to note before coming here: it’s very expensive, very sceney, and will probably be mostly filled with tourists. However, this is simply one of the best views in town: a gorgeous 360-degree look at Miami Beach - even from the bathrooms. So if that sounds like it’s worth $18 drinks and being surrounded by finance bros and influencers, then go for it. Reservations are required if you’re not a guest of the hotel.