I was in Miami, but on family time. I had every intention of going to the hip cocktail joints, maybe even sip on Rose Champagne in an elegant hotel lounge.
Real life intervenes.
I did have a great time at two old school restaurants off the beaten path that have both been around since the 1950s- the Rustic Inn Crabhouse in Ft. Lauderdale (we went right after airport arrival), and Captain's Tavern in Kendall, Miami. I was also offered a crystalized lime packet with my Corona on the plane- that's kinda mixology right? I'm going to make a gimlet with it- or a Jet Blue lime rickey.
Anyway, leave it up to the cool kids of Island Creek Oysters, down for the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, to pick up my dropped baton and run with it. Shore Gregory, CJ Husk, Chris Serman, Jess Fortin, Dana Hale and PR cutie Nicole Kanner took over as I flew out of town. Their mission? Let me know about The Broken Shaker- it just so happened they would be shucking oysters there for an event at the hotel.
The bar was closed (bummer), but they shucked oysters in the beautiful garden enjoying wines from Maureen Hautaniemi of Lush Life Productions and Wines of France. Clearly the review and message is simple, on vacation roll with it, check out new spots if you can, but enjoy the scenery regardless. Go to the Broken Shaker though, have a drink and report back to me.
Without a doubt, though, if you ever find yourself down south (as I did this past weekend), the essential bar is Santa's Pub.
Located inside a trailer off Highway 81 and Brandsford Ave., open until 3am nightly, bottles and cans of beer only, this place is a spectacular dive (even if the website seems polished). PBR is $1.50, High Life is $2.00 and come ice cold out of a 1980s Sears white laminate fridge served by Santa himself- ok, a bad ass Tennessee old timer who looks the part but with southern hospitality. There's no specialty ice, bitters, booze even. Oh, but there is Karaoke, I felt like I was in some movie- great sound, and I'm telling you voices that would make Dolly herself proud. Smoking is still allowed, the old broken down 60s cigarette machine continues to seem right at home.
The point is, sometimes a high end drink is satisfying, so too is a cold can of beer. You can't fake a bar like this- or have a better time.