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The nightly promenade along Ocean Drive is a rite of passage for any first-time visitor to Miami’s South Beach. Virtually every other business is a bar or a sweaty night spot so there’s plenty of local colour. But you may want to venture further afield for a touch of sophistication – and a well made cocktail, a soothing soundtrack and a dash of elegance. Since there are new bars opening almost every week, no one ever went thirsty in Miami.


Named to honour the memory of a famous American president, FDR is located in the opulent basement space of the exclusive Delano Hotel on Collins Avenue. If you like chandeliers, expensive cocktails, top DJs and ultra-thin models, then FDR is your kind of place. For the rest of us, it’s worth dropping by just to rub shoulders with the bold and the brazen for a few short moments.

Ball & Chain Bar

Located in Little Havana, this intimate jazz club is a faithful reproduction of the venue that once played host to some of the legends of American music, such as Count Basie, Billie Holiday and Chet Baker. Today’s patrons can expect to hear plenty of live music – everything from modern jazz to salsa and Cuban son. The atmospheric bar also serves excellent tapas and classic Miami cocktails.

The Corner

The Corner in Downtown blends a lively calendar of live music, great cocktails and a genuine Miami welcome. This is a great place to escape the madness of South Beach and rub shoulders with some real locals. Try one of the signature cocktails, such as the Pisco Punch or Ginger Rogering, or explore the range of international craft beers. The bar also serves well-priced snacks and soups.

Panther Coffee

Despite its huge Latino population finding a decent coffee in Miami is surprisingly difficult. With branches on Purdy Avenue and in Wynwood, Panther Coffee is a beacon of caffeine brilliance serving both espresso and cold brew coffee, using carefully selected beans. Both branches also serve a small selection of baked goods, but most people are here for the coffee – so expect a decent queue.

The Bar at Level 25

For sweeping ocean views, take the lift to Level 25 of the exquisite Conrad Miami on Brickell Avenue. The interior space is dark, moody and very sexy. There is also outdoor seating on the popular but somewhat narrow balcony. If you arrive in time for Happy Hour this is a very affordable night out, with oodles of glamour to boot. Order a decent bottle of wine and watch the sun set over Virginia Key.

Abbey Brewing Co.

Deep in the heart to Miami Beach, the Abbey Brewing Co. is the city’s oldest and, so it claims, only brew pub. Dating from 1995 this wood paneled bar pre-dates current America’s infatuation with craft beer and so deserves our respect. The company makes a small range of traditional ales and stouts, but the bar also serves other craft beer brands, well-made cocktails and a great pub atmosphere.