The pre-dinner drink is a great thing. It can stimulate the appetite, break the ice before a first date, or just make you feel better about the fact that you just ordered the most expensive thing on the menu. That’s what this guide is for. It has options all over town of where to grab a drink before you eat, along with a few suggestions of restaurants to go to afterward.
There is really never a bad time to come to Sweet Liberty, and it’s a perfect pre-dinner option too. If you come before dinner, the place won’t be dead, but the crowd will be light enough for you to be able to order your drinks fast and have a pleasant conversation over some of the city’s best cocktails - and maybe potato chips and caviar if you need an appetizer. This place is everything we love about South Beach: sexy and colorful and not afraid of a hot pink neon sign, without any of the nasty overpriced stuff you’ll drink on Ocean Drive.
Lagniappe is a great, mostly outdoor wine bar perfect for a first date or catching up with a friend over a bottle of wine and perhaps a cheese plate. Coming early is a good idea, because this place fills up fast, especially on the weekends. Their back patio is what all other back patios should aspire to be. There are string lights and tons of tables that look like they were collected from years of nearby garage sales, and as long as you can snag one of those tables, you’re going to have a good time.
ScapeGoat is a very small cocktail bar in South of Fifth, where you might see the bartender climb into the ceiling to fetch a bottle from the attic in order to make a very tasty cocktail. Things can get a little rowdy here with the late-night crowd, but before dinner - or perhaps while killing time waiting for a table at Joe’s - you should be able to have a relaxed conversation and a great drink.
If you love professional wrestling and beer, then this might be your favorite bar in Miami. But even if you aren’t a die-hard fan of either, you’ll still probably find this Calle Ocho spot refreshing and surprising in a good way. While most bars in the area specialize in live music and mojitos, Union Beer is a great spot to sit down, chat, and feel zero pressure to salsa. They have a solid beer selection, and if you happen to be going to dinner across the street at Ahi Sushi, grab a six-pack to-go on your way out, because they’re BYOB.
Lost Boy is a great place to meet if you’re eating anywhere Downtown. The bar is smack in the middle of the neighborhood, and serves beer, wine, and very good cocktails (get the gin and tonic), in a relaxed space that’s great for small groups or dates. If you are, in fact, eating Downtown, you’ll probably be able to walk from here, take the free Metromover, or - if you just realized you’re late for your reservation - take one of those rental e-scooters.
Orilla is more of a restaurant, but they do have a little bar and we really like their cocktails. Plus, the Argentinian restaurant is really beautiful and stylish, so it’s a good option if you’re trying to keep things formal. There is a 37% chance you like it so much here that you end up sticking around for dinner, but that’s alright because the food is good too.
The only downside of coming to Gramps before dinner is that you might not want to leave. That’s how much we love this bar, at least. Everything about Gramps is great - from the music programming to the excellent cocktails. They also have the best pizza within a five-mile radius, and we won’t tell anyone if you want to order a slice before dinner. Just call it an appetizer.
Quinto La Huella is a huge Uruguayan restaurant inside the Brickell City Centre. This is another good option if you want to keep things upscale. This place is mostly a sit-down restaurant, but they have a bar where you can sit down for a couple drinks and get in a fancy mood.
Taurus is the oldest bar in Coconut Grove, but still one of our favorite places to drink in the neighborhood. They happen to be directly next door to two great restaurants, Ariete and Nave, but it’s really easy to walk around in the Grove, so your dinner options are plentiful. Of course, if you do get hungry, Taurus’ bar food game - featuring pizza, wings, and a frita - is also incredibly strong since they share a kitchen with Ariete.