The World Class Bartender of the Year Global Final is rolling into town from September 26th, inspiring the best in the industry to a week of taxing challenges and fierce competition, guaranteeing the greatest show of bartender flair and creativity in the world.
Whether you’re attending the final or planning a long weekend in the sun, explore Miami like a local guided by the guys who know it best, the bartenders. We caught up with Ben Potts, Bar Manager at Beaker & Gray and Isaac Grillo Bar Owner at Repour Miami, for a one-stop guide to the top places worth checking out in this year’s host city.
What is unique about the bar scene in Miami compared to anywhere else in the world?
Ben: It’s underrated, there are a lot of great bartenders who are always thinking outside of the box and the produce is amazing.
Isaac: As bartenders, we have access to so many unique ingredients and tropical fruits that are not as accessible across the rest of the world. Our beautiful weather, coupled with picturesque beaches and fantastic nightlife makes Miami a very special place to relax, soak up the scenery and savour amazing, fresh cocktails.
Who are the top Miami bartenders to grab a seat at the bar with when visiting?
Ben: I’d have to say Josh Gonzalez (Sweet Liberty), Bettina Barnoczki (The Regent) and Randy Perez (27 Restaurant).
Isaac: That’s a tough one because we have lots of talented bartenders in Miami. My recommendations are Beaker and Gray, Sweet Liberty, Pawnbroker, Bay club, Beachcraft, Repour, Regent, Matador Room and Broken Shaker – any bartender at these places definitely have the skills to deliver.
Where would you recommend are the best places to drink like a local…
Ben: Any of these places and will make you feel like a local Club Deuce, Blackbird, Ted’s or The Local.
Isaac: They’re all good, but check out Free Spirits, Purdy lounge, Repour, Sweet Liberty.
If you want to take in the scenery, what are the top bars to check out with a view /rooftop?
Ben: There are loads of great locations to take in the view of Miami. My favorite spots include Sugar, where you can enjoy cocktails and Asian tapas overlooking downtown; Broken Shaker, it’s one of this year’s World Class final venues and serves incredible hand crafted cocktails’, or for a great view of the ocean on South beach, I love 1 Hotel rooftop.
Isaac: The rooftop at the 1 Hotel is really pretty and a great place to grab a drink with a view or try Juvia’s, which also has a great view of South beach. Pawnbroker downtown has a fabulous rooftop and is especially nice in the late evening. For a local vibe have dinner at Garcia’s fish market or alternatively catching a sunset martini at Smith and Wollensky – you’ll definitely discover a little Miami magic there!
What are the top places to stay while visiting Miami?
Ben: There’s lots of cool accommodation in Miami. If you are looking for a trendy hostel check out Freehand, for something a little more glamourous, Delano and 1 Hotel are must stays!
Isaac: If you are looking for something special, The Miami Beach Edition is a luxury boutique hotel, right on Miami Beach. For something quieter try The Standard. The Continental hotel is maybe not as well known, but has a lot to offer. The Vagabond is a perfect off the beach option, and the Freehand is amazing especially for those on a budget.
Best brunch spot?
Ben: My favorite brunch spot is definitely Yardbird with its decadent southern cooking.
Isaac: For plush brunch with the family we always head to Zuma. Alternatively The Ritz is a great place to enjoy sparkling wine and Bloody Marys for a few hours. For something more casual try Josh’s deli, it’s a hidden gem a little off the beach while The Front Porch is a staple on the Miami brunch scene and has been serving incredible brunch for years!
What are the best restaurants to check out?
Ben: Miami is famed for its impressive culinary scene. Personally, I love Sugarcane which boasts a great menu of large and small plates, artisanal cocktails, and an extensive rum selection. If you want to enjoy great food paired with craft beer and wine, check out Pub Belly. If you are looking for some delicious Italian food, my favorite is Macalluso’s.
Isaac: Where do I start? Alter is my favorite restaurant right now while Macchialina is hands down my favourite Italian spot in the city, set in a very cozy setting. 27 is great place to have a meal with a group of friends, whilst Red tops my list for steakhouses.
If you want to continue the night after dinner, where are your favourite places to go dancing?
Ben: Purdy has great music or Blackbird and Bodega are also great spots. Trust me you won’t be stuck for nightlife in Miami…
Isaac: I’m not a huge dancer, but would recommend Purdy for great music and no judgment. Rec Room is about as clubby as I get. Craft Social Club does an amazing job of creating a very comfortable club environment.
Finally, can you share a hidden gem in Miami?
Ben: Mike’s at the Venetia is a great family owned Irish bar and restaurant. It’s definitely worth checking out…
Isaac: For things to do, paddle board in sunset Harbour and watch a sunset at the Mondrian, it’s breath taking! Take a sail towards Brickell key or the half day fishing trip. Hit the Everglades, if you’ve never been, an airboat ride alone is worth it.