Miami loves any excuse to drink. Mojitos, negronis, craft beer, mint juleps, Moscow mules—you name it, we pour it. Maybe it’s the heat and humidity that makes us extra-thirsty, or perhaps it’s the inescapable traffic that drives us to the nearest watering hole and prompts us to pull up a barstool for hours on end while we gorge on carnitas from a taco car—permanently stationed in the back of the bar. In any case, alcohol is almost always a good idea in Miami, even more so when it’s served with a side of tasty grub, fun games and a good company.
Related: T+L’s Guide to Bars in Miami
Amid the clubs and lounges of Miami that charge an arm and a leg to get past their velvet ropes, there are a handful of hipster bars that enforce no cover—and are happily no-nonsense. Here are five places where everyone knows your name, as they say, and is looking out to make sure your glass is always half full.
There’s plenty to love about Radio Bar, a pop-up bar that became a permanent local hot spot, and which embraces the giant Radio Tower presiding over it. Antique radios adorn the laid-back saloon that screams with sounds of funk and old-school hip-hop. There’s craft beer, handcrafted cocktails and the best darn grilled cheese on South Beach for purchase. Plus, the five-plus flavors of popcorn and pool table are gratis.
Wood Tavern is as cool as its drinks—and crowd, as well as its sticker-plastered, graffiti-draped restrooms. The guys who work here consider themselves beer snobs, and on any given night, wooden communal tables in the beer garden, lit up by Christmas lights, are occupied with a creative collective. They only get up from the tables for more craft beer — there’s no table service here — or to order more tacos from Pancho’s permanently parked taco automobile.
The Corner is the kind of magical-seeming place where everyone knows your spirit of choice. The closest thing Miami may have to an actual speakeasy, this spot has managed to remain a well-kept secret by locals who don’t want to be found. They frequent The Corner for the simple pleasure of coddling a cocktail—you can choose from classic or nouveaux— without having to socialize or say a word. You can even stay till 8 a.m. and order yourself a crazy Croque-Madame for breakfast, which comes with bacon, and caramelized onions.
Gramps quietly introduced itself to the hipster community and the Wynwood neighborhood during the country’s premier art mecca affair, Art Basel. Misfits found a friendly abode with air conditioning, cold beer and cocktails — as is stated on the buildings exterior—and so much more. DJs spin vinyl and rock bands cause a quake on the outdoor stage.
Blackbird Ordinary might not be an oldie, but it’s a goodie. Nix the drinking games and play some childhood games instead — such as Jenga, Battleship, Monopoly and Operation—or take your turn at corn hole in their back courtyard. Drinks are made with homegrown herbs (look for the edible wall garden).