Some things get better with time, and that's certainly the case with Rhythm & Vine, the garden-esque bar and lounge located on the outskirts of Fort Lauderdale's Flagler Village complex.
Since opening in April, both the Airstream and indoor bars have launched a new cocktail menu featuring house made infusions, tinctures, and juices.
"Everything is straight from the crib, and straight from the garden," says Rhythm & Vine cocktail program director Eddie Fuentes.
In other words, everything is now made in-house. Of course, what else would you expect from a Broken Shaker alum and now co-founder of Miami-based Cocktail Cartel, Fuentes' six-month-old company aimed at helping bars and restaurants up the ante when it comes to making drinks.
Alongside Cocktail Cartel business partners Hector Acevedo and Manuel Picon, Fuentes says his mission is to bring a taste of Miami's beverage scene north to Broward County. In the last three months both mixologists — who have a combined 25 years of experience behind the bar between the two of them — have been working feverishly to overhaul the drink menu at the popular Fort Lauderdale hangout, offering drinks that reflect the venue's casual ambiance.
"This is a beer garden, but it's also hip and vibrant," says Fuentes. "We wanted the drinks to reflect that. At the end of the day, everyone just wants a cold, refreshing drink. And they want it to be good."
As a result, everything — including bitters and infusions — is made from scratch. Juices are fresh-squeezed. Small-batch, high-quality spirits are now in use. And fresh herbs make pretty, flavor-packed garnishes.
The presentation is a little more casual, however.
"We didn't want to bring in any fancy glassware for these drinks," adds Fuentes. "Some of the best memories people have of drinking are out of a plastic cup. It's a giant garden party here, and we didn't want to change that. It's still going to be like you're in your backyard with your friends."
Rhythm & Vine now offers several new specialty cocktails. There's the Sage By The Bell (top left), a combination of Beefeater gin with homemade limoncello, lemon and lime juice, pear cider, and garnished with fresh sage. Or try the Watermelon Vine (top center), a lemongrass infused New Amsterdam vodka made with fresh-pressed citrus, locally-grown watermelon, and mint. Another top pick is the Chapo's Tunnel (top right), an Olmeca Altos tequila blended with a serrano hibiscus syrup, passion fruit, and finished with orange flower essence.
Our favorite, however is the Colada Old Fashioned, a partnership with nearby Flagler Village eatery, Colada House, which provides a strong Cuban coffee as the base for this clever take on a traditional Old Fashioned. Fuentes and Acevedo say it's the perfect way of sharing their Cuban heritage, a potent drink made with a blend of Old Forester bourbon and 101 Rittenhouse rye whiskey, bitters, and a bold reduction syrup made from Colada's specialty-sourced coffee.
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The result is one hell of a cocktail, served the same way you'd get a Cuban coffee: from a styrofoam container, lid and all. They even deliver it with a few thimble-sized cups that make the drink perfect for sharing — a portable shot, if you will.
"Fat Village is becoming a very collaborative, creative community," says Fuentes. "Outside of Las Olas and Himmarshee, this is the new spot to eat, drink, and spend your day."
Rhythm & Vine Garden and Den is located at 401 NE Fifth Terrace, in Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-533-3734, or visit rhythm-vine.com.
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.