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.
If the martini has a spiritual food equivalent, it is red meat. And one of our favorite places to consume both is Sunny’s, an outdoor steakhouse in Little River that’s always an absolute blast. With its white tablecloths and sprawling outdoor space, dinner at Sunny’s feels like a very fun wedding reception, except you’re under no obligation to leave your table and speak to relatives you don’t like. All the cocktails are great, but the martinis are extra special. They serve five versions (including the dreaded espresso martini), and your drink arrives alongside a mini cocktail shaker, so you can top yourself off whenever you see fit.
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 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.
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.
There have been some changes to the original Jaguar Sun in Downtown (the same team behind Sunny’s). It mostly functions as a cocktail bar now, and Jaguar Sun is handing over its kitchen to Gilda, a new pop-up serving Basque pintxos. But you know what hasn’t changed? The fact that it’s 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 should 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.