Broward County has a long, alcohol-fueled history. From Prohibition rum-runners to shots-guzzling spring breakers to current
Yeah, we have plenty of craft-beer bars, like Laser Wolf and Riverside Market; heck, we even have highly respected breweries, such as Funky Buddha and Mack House. And sure, we've got bars in every nook and cranny, from historic beachside dives like Elbo Room to Irish pubs like Waxy O'Connors to high-end spots on Las Olas and everything in between.
What we've historically lacked, however, was a cocktail culture to rival anything found in Miami or other big cities across the country. Fortunately, the Broward cocktail scene is on the rise, with a number of spots creating intoxicating magic behind the bar.
10. Blue Martini
2432 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-653-2583, or visit bluemartinilounge.com.
With locations across South Florida — including Fort Lauderdale — this well-known and longtime South Florida bar and club was among the first in the area to create a Bible-like book of cocktails and offer a well-crafted menu. It's a national chain too: There are Blues in Bellevue, Boca Raton, Kendall, Las Vegas, Brickell, Naples, Orlando, Phoenix, and Tampa. The menu has more than 40 martinis to choose from, each guaranteed elevate your spirit — and taste buds — including the bar's signature blue martini, made with Van Gogh Blue Vodka, Cointreau, Blue Curacao, sour mix, and orange juice garnished with — of all things — a blue glow stick and orchid flower (just in case you need help locating your final drink at the end of the night).
9. Hyde Beach Kitchen + Cocktails
111 S. Surf Road, Hallandale Beach. Call 954-699-0901, or visit sbe.com.
OK, here's a secret for you: This may be one of the only spots in Broward County where the average patron can sip an alcoholic beverage from a lounge chair on the beach. One part of the Beachwalk Resort and one part restaurant, Hyde Beach Kitchen + Cocktails offers more than just stunning views. Guests can also pull up a chair at the indoor-outdoor bar and enjoy alfresco imbibing while sampling any one of the bar's many craft libations, from the Sahara (Grey Goose La Poire, Antica Formula, Aperol, lemon, rosemary, and orange bitters) to the Pineapple Express (Ciroc pineapple, fresh pineapple juice, South Beach syrup, and lemon) or the Hyde Beach Mojito (Bacardi Superior rum, mint, lime available with fresh puréed strawberry, mango, or blackberry).
8. The Living Room
401 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-414-8200 or visit WFortLauderdaleHotel.com.
The W Hotel serves up more than your average cocktail via various bars, from Steak 954 to the rooftop Wet Deck bar. But it's the sleek, blue-lit Living Room lounge on the fourth floor that offers a standup list of award-winning cocktails like the Guava Sin (a Florida-twist on the margarita, with Casamigos silver tequila, lime, a homemade lemon-lime triple sec, and fresh guava purée) or the Gotham City (Hennessy VS cognac, Nolly Pratt vermouth, Creme de Cassis, and lemon juice). If neither of those fits the bill, the regular menu offers nearly 20 handcrafted cocktails in all, while a separate section provides a short list of several seasonal drinks that change every few months. You'll never get bored, and there's always a reason to head back for more.
3599 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-563-3272, or visit maikai.com.
Since opening in 1956, the Mai-Kai has been the type of place where you can drown in a flaming scorpion bowl, order a potent tiki drink, or watch a live Polynesian dance show all while listening to tunes from from a real ukulele. Today, the restaurant stands as a landmark of sorts, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and playing host to the annual Hukilau, a four-day celebration of tiki culture and the original cult cocktail. It should also come as no surprise that this — the longest continually running tiki bar in the country — can whip up a damned fine island-inspired drink. The menu offers more than 20 tiki-styled variations; as the winner of multiple New Times Best Of awards in the drink department, there's a wide selection of beverages in an array of potencies. From the nonalcoholic like the Tahitian Paradise (a blend of strawberries, pineapple, orange juice, and coconut) to the mild Hemingway-inspired daiquiri and medium rum juleps and strong-ass Mai Tais, this place is sure to take you away to another place and time.
6. Burlock Coast
1 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-302-6460, or visit ritzcarlton.com.
Prohibition rum-runners are a huge part of South Florida's history, and now there's a place to belly up that pays homage to that very history: the Ritz-Carlton's Burlock Coast. Here, the bar program relies heavily on every pirate's favorite spirit — rum. There's even an entire room dedicated to highlighting dozens of handcrafted variations with the restaurant's in-house stand-alone rum shop. Selections include French, Caribbean, and Spanish-made varieties as well as a few local picks sourced from across Florida. In your glass, that translates to a rotating list of rums, from specialty cocktails to barrel-aged libations and punches. Drinks change with the seasons but currently include concoctions like Bill's Spirit, Conch Republic light rum mixed with grapefruit-infused Carpano Antica, Martinique cane sugar, and Angostura bitters. The bar also makes one hell of a classic Aviation using gin, Luxardo, Maraschino, lemon juice, and Creme Yvette made from parma violet petals with blackberries, red raspberries, wild strawberries and cassis, honey, orange peel, and vanilla. And the best part: You can enjoy all of them with an ocean view.
109 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-449-1044, or visit stacheftl.com.
Fort Lauderdale's downtown Himmarshee district has long been heralded as the preeminent drinking strip in Broward County. That being said, the drinks served along the block were more along the vodka/Red Bull lines than anything else. That all changed when Stache came to town. World-reknowned mixologist John Lermayer created a list of drinks that has brought the cocktail culture of Miami — and other mixed-drink epicenters — to downtown Lauderdale. From classics like the French 75 (with Champagne, Nolet's gin, and lemon) to new inventions like the Bad Habit (Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, lime juice, simple, cherry berry jam, and Velvet Falernum), Broward cocktail enthusiasts now have a place they can call home.
4. Apothecary 330
330 SE Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-616-8028, or visit jeygroup.com.
Accessible via a near-hidden entryway from Pizzacraft, Apothecary 330 is the crafty answer to Himmarshee's imbibing scene. Here, a short copper bar with seating for up to 15 is mirrored by a cozy lounge area where bottle service takes place on weekends. The cavernous interior includes a T-shaped custom-built red leather couch and walls adorned with turn-of-the-century knickknacks like old sewing machines and decades-old apothecary jars the owners' sourced from nearby vintage dealers. Behind the bar, guests can find an assortment of rare and specialty liquors, about 250 bottles, with a focus on bourbon and whiskey. The collection includes a number of imported picks you might not see at many bars in the area, including three — an aged, single, and blended malt — from Japan. Apothecary's interpretation of classic cocktails will provide the foundation of the menu, with modern takes on old-world favorites like the Sazerac, Hemingway daiquiri, NY sour, a gin fizz, a margarita, and — of course — the old-fashioned. The revolving concoctions designed by the Apothecary staff are made using small-batch and high-end spirits and an arsenal of homemade bitters, barrel-aged liquors and infusions, syrups, and foams.
1 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Call 954-327-7625, or visit seminolehardrockhollywood.com.
With so much flux and change happening in the cocktail and spirits world, it's not easy to understand what makes a good drink these days. Is it the use of craft and small-batch specialty liquors? The steeping of homemade bitters and handcrafted garnishes? Or having an apothecary's inventory of spices at your disposal? At Kuro, the new-style Japanese restaurant inside the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, you'll find all these elements and more employed behind the bar. While the Kuro kitchen is busy delivering executive chef Alex Becker's unique, multicourse kaiseki-styled dining experience, the bartenders at the Kuro lounge are mixing it up with an equally creative cocktail program. Handcrafted components include everything from fruit juices and bitters to specialty-sourced Japanese liquors. No detail goes unconsidered, from the balance of flavors and temperature to the type of ice cube used in each drink. What is most special, however, is the structure of the Kuro cocktail menu, which is designed around the five Japanese taste profiles — sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami — making them the perfect compliment to the restaurant's kaiseki-style dining experience. If you're so inclined, you could even order one to pair with each course.
2. Kreepy Tiki Bar & Lounge
2606 S. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Call 305-803-9014, or visit kreepytikitattoos.com.
By now, any self-respecting South Floridian knows about Fort Lauderdale's Mai-Kai, the giant tiki hut off Federal Highway. But, especially in Broward County, only a few spots have managed to tap into the true South Pacific kitsch with old-school-era tiki drinks that deliver the real deal. That includes the city's best underground tiki bar, Kreepy Tiki Tattoos & Boutique. Equal parts rockabilly and South Pacific suave, the Fort Lauderdale tattoo-shop and music venue is also home to the Kreepy Tiki lounge, all of it housed in an ominous black cinderblock building at the nexus of one-way Miami Road and South Federal Highway. From the outside, it doesn't look like much, but once you pass through the tinted double glass doors into the dimly lit space beyond, it all makes sense. That means plenty of Polynesian nostalgia, from the short bamboo bar, stocked with bottles of small-batch, boutique-label liquor, to the authentic ceramic tiki mugs. Co-owners Ayme Harrison and Jackson Valiente say the idea is to offer patrons a true retro tike lounge where they can listen to live music and enjoy a tiki drink or two. So authentic, in fact, that Kreepy Tiki was recently named one of three Florida bars to be listed among the 22 Best Tiki Bars in the United States, according to Condé Nast Traveler. How's that for authentic?
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1. Rhythm & Vine
401 NE Fifth Terrace, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-533-3734, or visit rhythm-vine.com.
Is it a beer garden? A pop-up garden party? Craft cocktail bar? Rhythm & Vine in Fort Lauderdale is all three, what amounts to the ultimate backyard party. All it takes is an open-air area, some picnic-styled tables, plenty of good music, and a few craft brews and handcrafted cocktails to get the good times started. And it's right smack in the heart of the city, located in a hidden patch of land at the corner of NE Fifth Terrace and NE Fourth Street in Fort Lauderdale where you'll find a roaming outdoor lounge serviced by a repurposed Airstream and a dimly lit inside bar fashioned out of two, 20-foot-long metal shipping containers. Here you can sip on drinks that use homemade bitters and infusions; fresh-squeezed juices; and small-batch, high-quality spirits; while fresh herbs make pretty, flavor-packed garnishes. There's the Sage by the Bell, a combination of Beefeater gin with homemade limoncello, lemon and lime juice, and pear cider, garnished with fresh sage. Or the Watermelon Vine, a lemongrass-infused New Amsterdam vodka made with fresh-pressed citrus, locally grown watermelon, and mint. The favorite, however, is the Colada Old Fashion, a potent drink made with a blend of Old Forester bourbon and 101 Rittenhouse rye whiskey, bitters, and a bold reduction syrup made from nearby Colada House's Cuban coffee. The presentation is casual, with plastic cups — but, hey — it's still a garden party, remember?
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.