Ten Best Cocktail Bars in Palm Beach County

Mixologist Ivan Ramirez at Brandon's in Palm Beach.
Mixologist Ivan Ramirez at Brandon's in Palm Beach.
Photo courtesy of Tideline Resort Palm Beach

A half-decade ago, as new-wave cocktail culture swept the nation, South Florida lagged behind. While people in cities like Chicago, New York, and San Francisco were already discovering the joy of a well-made Aviation, perfect Manhattan, or a solid Negroni, most South Floridians were still making do with frozen, premade mixes served in plastic cups.

But times, they are a-changin'.

The cocktail scene in Palm Beach County is growing, and behind this new era of imbibing with bars that shaking things up, from themed cocktail menus to tiki-style drinks by the beach. There are also a few genuinely talented mix masters shaking thing up, bartenders like Ivan Ramirez at Brandon's in Palm Beach, Brett Robertson at Boca Raton's Kapow! Noodle Bar, or Andrew Luzenko at newly-opened Saxon in Boynton Beach. 

Thirsty? Here are the top spots to score a good cocktail in Palm Beach County, from the rediscovered classics to lively new watering holes. Cheers!

Ten Best Cocktail Bars in Palm Beach County (14)
Photo courtesy of Tideline Resort Palm Beach

10. Brandon's Palm Beach
2842 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach. Call 561-540-6440, or visit brandonspalmbeach.com.
Forget the average hotel bar. Those days are long gone. Welcome, instead, the bar at Brandon's, located at the Tideline Resort in Palm Beach. The establishment offers a spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean — and a number of classic and new-age cocktails worth salivating over. Choose from properly made originals like the Manhattan, old-fashioned, Moscow Mule, or a pisco sour. Or go for one of the many handcrafted, artisan-inspired cocktails like the colorful Here's Your Carrot Cake or the Miss High Maintenance, a blend of Gin No. 3, fresh-pressed carrot juice, coconut water, fresh-grated cinnamon, and cream. Feeing less fancy? There's also a barrel-aged drink or two behind the bar,  a rotating selection of cocktails aged on the premises in oak barrels for four to six weeks. Or simply order the old standby: The bar prepares one of the best (and dirtiest) dirty martinis around, a combination of Chopin rye vodka, dry vermouth, oregano, and Old Bay spice-infused olive juice, garnished with panko-bread-crumb-encrusted filthy blue-cheese olives.

Ten Best Cocktail Bars in Palm Beach County (11)
Photo courtesy of Max's Social House

9. Max's Social House
116 NE Sixth Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-501-4332, or visit sohodelray.com.
With drinks like Shake It to the Beet (Death’s Door Gin, egg white, lemon juice, Swank Farms-sourced beets, beet powder, and Peychaud’s Bitters) or Scotch, Loch & Drop It (Monkey Shoulder scotch, Drambuie, lime, Miami-sourced JoJo jasmine tea, dandelion and burdock bitters, and CB Peat Monster Scotch rinse), you're guaranteed to have a good time imbibing during the weekday happy hour at Max's Social House in Delray Beach. The cocktail menu features a variety of handcrafted drinks that rotate according to the seasons, which means the bartenders shake things up quite a bit to keep things fresh and interesting.

Ten Best Cocktail Bars in Palm Beach County (9)
Photo by Nicole Danna

8. Hullabaloo
517 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. Call 561-833-1033, or visit sub-culture.org.
If you're in the mood for a handcrafted cocktail, head to Hullabaloo in West Palm Beach. This Rodney Mayo establishment recently made the year's "best of" list for new restaurants in 2013, churning out gastropub-style Italian with precision and creativity. Likewise, the bar makes one hell of a drink. Here, everything behind the bar is the real deal. How real? You won't find a single bottle of simple syrup, and we think that says something. Instead, it's all about doing things from scratch, deployed with high-end spirits and house-made liqueurs to serve flavorful, intense drinks with no artificial ingredients. The current roster — each cocktails named for deceased musicians — includes the Rick James, a blend of Jameson, Temontis Mirto, Foro Amaro, orange bitters, and fresh oregano. Or try the Peter Tosh, a taste of spiced rum blended with pineapple, egg white, lime juice, cardamom, and Garam Masala.

7. Kapow! Noodle Bar
431 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Call 561-347-7322, or visit kapownoodlebar.com.
Kapow! isn't just a noodle bar — it's also one of the county's best craft cocktail bars. Imbibers can indulge in a colorful drink selection drafted seasonally by mixologist Angela Dugan and bar manager Brett Robertson, who each take great pride in sourcing fresh herbs from the bar's own Boca Raton-based organic garden and specialty spices and liquors to concoct some pretty intense pairings. Out of more than a dozen cocktails, you can even find several "low impact" drinks — those with fewer calories and less alcohol — to help keep indulging in check. This season, look for new combinations as well as the signature favorite known as the Spicy Lover, which combines fresh muddled cucumber and cilantro with agave, a dash of hot sauce, and a shot of good tequila.

Ten Best Cocktail Bars in Palm Beach County (16)
Photo courtesy of The Rebel House

6. The Rebel House
297 E. Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton. Call 561-353-5888, or visit lifetastesbetter.com.
At the Rebel House in Boca Raton, you're encouraged to "imbibe, ingest, and indulge." And we strongly encourage you to focus on the "imbibe" part. Owners Mike Saperstein and Evan David, the duo behind Charm City Burgers and El Jefe Luchador, debuted this casual, chef-driven restaurant several years ago and have become a smash hit for their distinctive American-style tapas paired with some equally fresh and flavorful cocktails. At the bar, whiskey and bourbon are the main focus with creative concoctions that highlight fresh flavors full of fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruit infusions. Perhaps the best time to go would be during the restaurant's "Wake and Bake" Sunday brunch, where you can get bottomless watermelon-basil or cucumber-mint mimosas alongside a fresh Roma tomato-based bloody mary or maple-syrup-infused bourbon cocktail.

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