Where To Go When You’re In The Mood For A Martini    guide image


Where To Go When You’re In The Mood For A Martini

The Miami bars and restaurants for when you don’t just want a drink—you want a martini.

This is not a guide to the best martinis in Miami. This is a guide to the best places in Miami for when your shirt is tucked in and you’re feeling dignified. For when you’re feeling inspired after watching a Tarantino movie with an impossibly cool protagonist. Or for when you just read a page of War and Peace after getting out of the sauna, and now you need to rehydrate.

That’s because the martini isn’t just a drink—it’s a mood. It doesn’t matter if the glass was pre-chilled or if you prefer it dry, dirty, shaken, stirred, with gin, or with vodka. What matters is the setting in which you drink it. And, of course, the martini has to be pretty damn good too. So here are the best bars and restaurants for when you’re in the mood for a martini.


Caffe Abbracci

This Coral Gables Italian classic has a separate bar area with a stained glass ceiling that’ll make you want to whisper a few Hail Marys before lifting a martini to your lips. There’s no cocktail menu, so order a martini however you like it. Just be sure to let the bartender know if you want vermouth—they usually make them bone-dry. This place has a sort of bizarre church/bar decor, but we love it. Plus, Abbracci’s bar has great service, strong free-poured drinks, plays awesome 80s club hits, and you might run into your best friend’s dad sipping Chivas at a lounge table. 

Kaiju is a cocktail bar inside The Citadel with a menu that's a fun little anime-inspired zine with drinks named after different mythical monsters. Their version of a martini—called the King Ghidorah—is served in a frozen glass with perfect ratios of vermouth and your choice of gin or vodka. Plus, it comes with a little plate of rotating pickled things for you to snack on. Kaiju is located in what looks like a fancy bird’s nest on The Citadel second floor, and can only fit about a dozen people. But If there are no open seats at the glowing red bar, there’s overflow seating just outside.

If you want to drink your martini with an aerial view of Biscayne Bay so dramatic it might make you unironically say something like “This is my city,” then take the golden elevator up to Klaw’s rooftop bar. This Edgewater steakhouse is fancy enough for your nicest outfit and their martini, which comes with a mignonette vermouth and an adorable star-shaped lemon peel, is really good. You can also drink it in Klaw’s main dining room while eating phenomenal $100-plus steaks—another martini-appropriate scenario. But the rooftop is a good call if you just want to drink and perhaps snack on a bowl of olives or a couple of chilled prawns. 

The Gibson Room on Coral Way has no shortage of qualities we look for in a martini bar: great food, severed animal heads on the wall, moody lighting, chandeliers, and live jazz. Coming here hungry is certainly a good idea. They serve an impressively crispy chicken schnitzel, strozzapreti with diced ham, foie gras flan, and more dishes that range from uni butter popcorn to oxtail and shrimp ramen. But it’s a great place to hang out regardless, especially since there's always either a band or DJ playing here. Plus, their house gibson martini, in addition to being cold and tasty, is also a very reasonable $12.

At what other bar in Miami can you run into your parents, your ex, your ex’s parents, your old 7th grade geometry teacher, and a member of the ’72 Dolphins—all in the same night? Nowhere but Joe’s, baby. The restaurant’s front bar is where Miamians have killed time waiting for a table for the last 100-plus years. It’s still a beautifully chaotic scene, and precisely the kind of old-school space that demands an extra dirty martini with a couple of fat blue cheese olives. True story: last time we were here, the bartender performed a magic trick as he was handing back our credit card. Never change, Joe’s.

There are many occasions that justify going to Over Under, a narrow cocktail bar and restaurant in the heart of Downtown. But being in the mood for a martini is one of them—because this place makes what might just be our favorite martini in town. It's called the shell-tini, and it's a perfectly briny martini with oyster shell-infused gin. It truly deserves whatever the martini equivalent of a Nobel Prize is. Plus, you can sip it beneath the glow of a neon mosquito sipping a martini, which proudly hangs on the wall.

There are so many reasons why Monterry Bar is a perfect martini bar. It’s dim, it’s sexy, it’s intimate, it’s inside a fancy hotel (The Standard), and it has a long U-shaped bar where you can make flirty eye contact with that handsome stranger over there. They also have a really impressive cocktail menu. The closest thing you’ll find to a martini on it is the Slip Away (gin, a vermouth blend, and house bitters). But the great bartenders here will be happy to make your martini any way you prefer.

The Lido’s walk-in friendly Champagne Bar is worthy of your fanciest clothes (and your thickest credit card). This old-money spot is not cheap, but if you want to go big on some $20-plus cocktails that taste like works of art, this is the place to do it. The historic property is gorgeous too, with massive cathedral ceilings and bartenders sporting white coats behind an emerald green bar you can practically see your reflection in. The martinis here are predictably great—chilled to the ideal temperature in glassware so delicate you’re afraid to touch it.

If you squint a little, El Salón can make you feel like you’re in another country. It’s slightly hidden in an alley just off Española Way, featuring some very pretty Spanish-Mediterranean architecture that almost makes you forget about the hive of tourists just outside. This is not only a great place to hide from those tourists, but also a great cocktail bar. The drink menu features a selection of Salón’s own blended spirits, which they put to excellent use in their house gibson martini. The dark space has tables that are good for couples, but they also have a very cute and very tiny horseshoe bar, which is where we think you’d have the most martini-y experience.

Also in South Beach, just a short walk from El Salón, is the Andalusian gin and tapas bar, Tropezón. And if you assumed a gin bar would make a great martini—good job. You are correct. We really like the food here too, but Tropezón’s gin is special. They have a great selection of infused gins—their fino martini uses a hojiblanca gin and their espresso martini has Madagascar vanilla gin. This is, in case you haven’t figured it out, a place for gin lovers. But we also really love the space, a 50/50 split between a bar and dining room with a snug interior featuring lots of wood and legs of jamón hanging from the ceiling.

Cote nails that classic steak and martini combo, except there’s nothing that feels particularly classic about this place. This is a good thing. Cote is a steakhouse of the future, with its sleek, dark dining room that makes you feel like you’re inside a luxurious spaceship in the year 4023. Both the food and drinks here taste so good you’d suspect some sort of alien technology is involved. And their Proper Martini (made with your choice of gin, vodka, or both) is exactly the kind of martini we’d take aboard a spaceship to show the future population of Mars what a perfect Earth martini tasted like.

It does feel like a shame to go to Jaguar Sun and not consume some of the delicious food they serve here. But nonetheless, this is a wonderful place to sit at the bar and order a martini. In terms of quality, their martinis are some of the best in town. But they’ve also got that perfectly dim martini lighting, and the kind of fun atmosphere that makes it very easy to order another round or three.

Orilla is not only a really good Argentinian steakhouse, but the South Beach spot also has one of the few martinis in town that’s actually kind of worth $24. It’s called the Seashore Martini, and it’s prepared tableside. First, they filter the vodka through cubes of pink Himalayan salt before the bartender pours the vermouth from way above the glass to oxygenate it, which, if nothing else, makes you feel better about the fact that you just spent $24 on a martini. The cocktail is finished with a few drops of basil pesto that float atop the martini, and every sip of this thing is just delightful. It goes wonderfully with the perfectly-cooked steaks you should be ordering here, too.

Jazz and martinis are a timeless duo that pair together like a turtleneck and blazer—which would be a totally appropriate thing to wear to The Globe. This classic Gables bar and restaurant is a really lovely place to slowly sip a cocktail while nodding along to an upright bass. The space feels more like a house than a bar. It has a very Shakespearean aesthetic—with Renaissance paintings all over the walls, chandeliers, and little wooden tables scattered around the dining room, each with a candle in the center. They serve food, but you can also come here just to drink that martini and listen to live jazz, which they have every Saturday night.

Before Miami’s latest wave of excruciatingly sceney, impossible-to-book restaurants, there was Prime 112. Since the early 2000s, The South of Fifth steakhouse has been the place for celebrities (and people who have convinced themselves they are celebrities) in search of a big night out involving steak and a stiff cocktail. Look, if the idea of a dining room full of people rubbernecking to see if that’s an NBA player sitting over there in the corner bothers you, then you might hate it here. But the restaurant still has a certain old-school electricity to it—and its dark dining room, brick pillars, and seared steaks undeniably evoke a martini mood. Just don’t bet on walking in without a reservation, especially during the peak winter months. And, yes, you still have to call them on an actual phone to make one.

There’s something about being in a dark room below sea level that feels particularly martini-appropriate. This is the case at Swizzle, which is why they’re on this guide even though they (technically) don’t have a martini on the menu. This place is in a South Beach hotel, but the space feels more like the kind of Manhattan basement bar where you’d run into Bill Murray (and inevitably share a martini with him). As the name implies, Swizzle focuses on rum and swizzle drinks. However, the bartenders are quite talented and will be more than happy to make you a martini to enjoy, whether or not you happen to be with Bill Murray.

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photo credit: Jen Castro

Where To Go When You’re In The Mood For A Martini    guide image