With Summer Upon Us, We Search the Bars of the Gables for the Perfect Antidote to the Heat
By Lizzie Wilcox // Photography by Jon Braeley
It’s 5:00 and you’re ready to grab a much deserved drink. Lucky for those who work in the downtown, the best bars in the city are within walking distance. With so many options, choosing just one can be overwhelming. But we’ve got the inside scoop on the best watering holes in the Gables, and their bartenders’ favorite drinks. Narrowing it down to just eight was the hard part. The drinking was not.
The debate on whether Fleming’s is one of the best is settled by the crowd alone. Walk in on a random Tuesday evening and there’s not an empty seat at the bar. But for Rich, who has been with the steakhouse for 10 years, this is a relatively quiet night. Usually, not only are all the seats at the bar occupied, but also every adjacent booth and table. “I think it’s a really good high-end happy hour,” he says, explaining that happy hours elsewhere that also serve great food and drink are not as cheap – and consequently not as good.
Having been at Fleming’s for a decade, his favorite drink is no longer on the menu, but the longtime regulars still order it: The Farmer’s Daughter. The strawberries and basil are muddled, releasing a “farm fresh flavor.” It’s two parts sweet, one part tangy and all parts refreshing.
The Farmer’s Daughter
Put aside all drinking gender norms. Though fruity and pink, this cocktail is too good to be deemed “just for women.”
Muddled strawberries and basil Vodka
Simple syrup Cranberry
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
2525 Ponce de Leon Blvd.
305.569.7995 Mon – Thurs: 5 – 10 p.m.
Fri: 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. & 5 – 10 p.m. Sat: 5 – 11 p.m.
Sun: 5p.m. – 9 p.m.
Happy Hour: 5 – 7 p.m. nightly
With a separate room for just the bar, Christy’s is for serious drinkers. The drink of choice? Bryan’s Old Fashioned. What makes this drink not so old fashioned is their use of rum instead of bourbon. For rum to work in an Old Fashioned, it has to be amazing rum, which is why they use Bacardi’s Facundo Eximo. A drink like this reminds us why bartenders need to go through training, and that there’s more to making a drink than using a cocktail shaker.
Juliana, the bar manager of three years, explains the detailed process. The orange peel is more than just a garnish. When peeling the orange, she cuts off a part of the orange as well, squeezing the juice onto the single, massive ice cube in the glass. She then takes a lighter, burns the peel and rubs it on the rim. The drink itself is served in a glass flask. They’ll pour just half of it in the glass, so as to not water it down. The remainder of the drink is poured as you please. This is not a drink that you sip and say, “Wow, you can’t even taste the alcohol!” You can definitely taste the alcohol, but it’s a really nice rum, so you want to. “The touch is the [simple] syrup,” Juliana explains. “The guests want the sweetness.” It takes a cocktail this good to be both the most expensive and the most ordered.
Bryan’s Old Fashioned
Yes, this is the most expensive drink on the bar menu, but the serving size is more than generous. Even after the waiter pours the first round, half of the flask is still full. Remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint.
Facundo Eximo rum Orange bitters Aromatic bitters Simple syrup (or agave) Orange peel Stirred, not shaken
3101 Ponce de Leon Blvd. 305.446.1400 Mon – Thurs & Sat: 5 – 10 p.m. Fri: 12 – 10 p.m.
You may not think to order a cocktail at an Irish pub, but at John Martin’s you should, especially their Cool as a Cucumber botanical spritzer. With just four ingredients, anyone can make it and then head out to the pool. The liquor component is Ketel One Botanical cucumber and mint vodka. Ketel One Botanical uses real botanicals and is infused with natural fruit essences, meaning no artificial flavor or syrupy aftertaste like with typical flavored vodkas. The only other ingredient is Fever Tree tonic water. Garnish with cucumber and mint leaves.
“It’s nice for the summertime,” says bartender Sam, who then states the obvious, “Well, it’s always summer here.” Luckily at a pub you don’t have to wait for the clock to strike 5 to start drinking, and it’s not uncommon to find a few retirees sitting at the bar for a late lunch, already a couple of scotches deep.
Cool as a Cucumber
We love this drink for its simplicity. Whereas most of your favorite cocktails at a bar are your favorite because they’re drank only on occasion and only a mixologist can make them, this spritzer is user friendly.
Ketel One Botanical cucumber and mint vodka
Fever Tree tonic water
Cucumber Mint leaves
John Martin’s Irish Pub & Restaurant
253 Miracle Mile 305.445.3777 Mon – Thurs: 11:30 a.m. – 12 a.m. Fri & Sat: 11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m. Sun: 11 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Happy Hour: Mon – Fri, 4 – 7 p.m.
This was an obvious choice. There’s a crowd at their large, circular bar on any given day at nearly any time, whether it’s for happy hour, weekend brunch, day drinking, you name it.
Here we drank the Don’t Be A Prick margarita. The name may sound harsh, but it comes from the prickly pear puree that’s used. According to our bartender Linette, “The ladies really like it.” We can see why this might be labeled as a “girly drink,” due to the deep pink color of the drink itself and the bright green salt on the rim.
But don’t let the color fool you, this is a strong one. It’s also customizable. If you like a spicy drink, ask for jalapenos in it. Or it could be made with Mezcal for a smokier flavor. However you take it, drink with caution.
Don’t be a Prick Margarita
Ironically an ideal drink when dealing with a prickly person. It takes just one of these to forget why you needed a drink in the first place.
Cazadores Blanco tequila Prickly pear puree Orange liqueur
Basil syrup Fresh lime
Basil salt (on the rim)
301 Giralda Ave.
Mon – Thurs: 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Fri: 11:30 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Sat: 11 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Sun: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Happy Hour: Weekdays 4 – 7 p.m.
Late Night Happy Hour: Weekdays 10 p.m. – close
House Kitchen & Bar
At House, you’ll find workers ditching the office and bringing their laptops to the bar even before happy hour kicks off at 4 p.m. When you can’t decide what to drink, it never hurts to ask a bartender for a recommendation.
If you ask House bartender Samantha, she’ll recommend the Cucumbertini. Even people who don’t like gin will be a fan, like Samantha herself. “It’s one of my favorite cocktails on the menu,” she says. It’s now one of our favorites, too. The gin is actually the perfect liquor selection for this cocktail, giving it a hint of floral taste. Light and refreshing, it’s perfect for those scorching Miami summertime afternoons.
If you find yourself staring at a bar menu, unsure of what to order, take our word and get anything cucumber-related. It’s light and cool and refreshing and everything that Miami in the summer isn’t.
Garnish with cucumber
House Kitchen + Bar
180 Aragon Ave.
Mon – Thurs: 11:30 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Fri: 11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m. Sat: 9 a.m. – 2 a.m.
Sun: 9 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Oyster Happy Hour: Weekdays 3 – 4 p.m. Happy Hour: Weekdays 4 – 7 p.m.
The test of a good Italian restaurant is if its customers are speaking the language. At Zucca, not only are its patrons authentically Italian, but also the staff.
Ask the bartender Lorenzo a question and he’ll respond with a nod of the head and a “Si.” Lorenzo doesn’t just make a drink; he puts on a show while doing it. Flipping, slapping, tapping and shaking glasses, it’s all one fluid movement (no pun intended). The finished product is a signature cocktail appropriately named Below Zero.
The recipe calls for Stoli Elite vodka, a Russian vodka filtrated at -18 degrees Celsius. Made with ginger beer, chili pepper flakes and crushed garlic, it may be intense to those who don’t like spice, but for those who do, it’s just delicious. We could drink these all day.
A Russian vodka cocktail made by an Italian bartender served at a restaurant in America. World peace at last.
Stoli Elite vodka Ginger beer
Fresh lime juice Simple syrup
Chili pepper flakes Sage Crushed garlic
162 Alcazar Ave.
Tues – Sat: 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. Sun & Mon: 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. Happy Hour: Weekdays 4 – 8 p.m.
Anyone who has been to The Globe is familiar with “A Man with a Quilted Sleeve,” the painting of the Renaissance-era looking man wearing a blue puffy shirt. It’s only fitting that they have a drink named after their “mascot,” The Man with the Blue Sleeve. Cucumber cocktails are the unofficial official summertime drink, so the main ingredient, other than Tito’s vodka, is cucumber muddled with basil. Before garnishing the cocktail with a basil leaf, Shira lays it in the palm of her hand and smacks it.
Addressing our raised eyebrows, she explained that when you muddle certain herbs, like basil, the taste can become bitter. Smacking them quite literally awakens their taste and scent, leaving a fresh tasting drink, and a nice herby smell as you bring the glass up to your mouth.
Man with a Quilted Sleeve
This drink goes down very easily, which is a good thing for the most part. Just be careful, too many of these and The Man with the Blue Sleeve will come to life.
Muddled cucumber & basil Agave
Fresh lime juice
377 Alhambra Circle 305.445.3555
Tues: 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Weds & Thurs: 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. Fri: 11:30 a.m. – 12 a.m. Sat: 6:30 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Happy Hour: Tues – Fri, 5 – 8 p.m.
We couldn’t write about the top bars in Coral Gables and not mention the venue that has people stumbling out onto Miracle Mile at 2 a.m. Copper 29 caters to the younger population of Coral Gables with a half-off happy hour weekdays at 4 p.m. and a DJ set from 5 p.m. to close every Friday.
On Tuesdays, an Old Fashioned is just $5, which is just what Yiannis made for us.
Their version of the Old Fashioned is as traditional as it gets: made with bourbon and topped with an orange peel. Nothing fancy here, just like grandpa used to make.
The décor is also chosen with a younger crowd in mind. Something tells us Baby Boomers wouldn’t obsess over a plant wall (made with real plants!) and a painting of Brad Pitt dressed as an army general.
If you order drinks neat or on the rocks, this is the cocktail for you. With simple syrup and aromatic bitters as the only additives, it pretty much tastes like straight bourbon.
Old Grand-Dad bourbon Simple syrup
Garnish with orange peel
206 Miracle Mile 786.580.4689 Mon & Tues: 5 p.m. – 1a.m. Weds & Thurs: 5 p.m. – 2 a.m. Fri: 4 p.m. – 2 a.m. Sat: 12 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Sun: 12 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Happy Hour: Mon – Sat, 4 – 8 p.m.