While some people look forward to the yearly Oscars or Grammies, I eagerly await the annual list of the world's top 50 bars. This year's awards ceremony took place on Thursday, October 5, when I happened to be getting off a cruise ship in Miami. Noticing that 2 of the top 50 were in Miami Beach, it seemed a visit was in order.
The first bar I visited was Sweet Liberty, number 27 on the list. Arriving by trusty Uber during Happy Hour, I noticed 2 of my favorites were featured: oysters and classic daiquiris. Both were excellent, the oysters very flavorful and not too sweet. The classic daiquiri is one of those drinks that can be considered a Litmus test of a bartender's skill. The majority of places will serve a strawberry slushie type concoction out of a blender. The real classic daiquiri is a shaken drink made of rum, fresh squeezed lime juice and simple syrup. Simple indeed, yet ever so elusive.
Sweet Liberty's was perfect, as I expected. Being a rum nerd, I prefer many of the classic cocktails (Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Negroni) made with rum as the primary spirit. It didn't escape my notice that there was a Rum Old Fashioned on the Happy Hour list. The Old Fashioned, whether the spirit is whiskey, brandy, or rum is one of the classic cocktails from the 1800's. Composed of one's spirit of choice, water, sugar, and bitters, it is an easy recipe that is easily ruined. The Rum Old Fashioned at Sweet Liberty had just the right amount of sweetness with the prominent taste of rum.
I could have easily spent the evening exploring the cocktail menu but there was still work to do.
After another daiquiri, I Uber'd over to Broken Shaker.
Broken Shaker is making it's 4th straight appearance on the top 50 list coming in at 18 this year. At first glance the bar in Broken Shaker hardly seems bigger than a home bar. (Well, some people's home bars). I started with a Rum Manhattan, followed by a Classic Daiquiri made with Plantation Stiggins Fancy pineapple rum.
At first I didn't see how this bar rated in the top 50. Sure, it had great drinks and an innovative cocktail list. But so do a few dozen bars in San Francisco. There was some other undefined quality I was missing. I walked around the courtyard and enjoyed the laid back ambiance with patio furniture in amongst the trees. After a couple drinks I started to get it, why Broken Shaker occupies a well deserved place on the Top 50 list. There is a synergy that few bars achieve. Great drinks, cool location, and skilled, friendly bartenders. Broken Shaker is another place I could have spent a lot more time in but I had to get back to my original plan of exploring the Little Havana area of Miami. Oh Uber!
Warren is a self-professed travel addict and cocktail nerd, who is always in search of the perfect classic daiquiri. He has traveled all over the world with his wife, Lorena. Follow his adventures on Twitter.