Gone are the days of the apple martini. Miami’s sophisticated female cocktail connoisseurs are pushing the spirit boundaries.
Miami women are exploring cocktail culture with drinks such as (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP) the Bonnie & Clyde from The Cypress Room, the East by West Old Fashioned from Hakkasan, and the Oaxacan Venice from The Broken Shaker.
Brandi Reddick has a keen eye for the cutting-edge—both with the public art installations she’s placed around South Florida and with her taste in cocktails. The curator for Miami-Dade Art in Public Places, Reddick doesn’t shy away from powerful spirits or obscure liqueurs with hard-to-pronounce names. For a nightcap, she selects a potent yet elegant French 75, made with gin, Champagne, lemon juice, and simple syrup, at TheCorner (1035 N. Miami Ave., Miami, 305-961-7887). On Sundays, she’s partial to a Tequesta Sunrise, featuring Avion tequila, Blanche de Normandie (apple brandy), crème de mure (blackberry liqueur), and fresh lemon juice at Seasalt and Pepper (422 NW N. River Dr., Miami, 305-440-4200).
And Reddick is hardly alone—liquor brands are increasing their outreach to women, while others in the spirits industry, such as Jennifer Massolo of the Miami-based tasting series Spirited Sirens, which brings female imbibers together to explore artisanal spirits through interactive seminars, are helping expose more women to bourbon, Scotch, and other brown spirits. “Ladies are always asking me for refreshing bourbon cocktails,” says Sarah Lawrence, head bartender at Hakkasan (4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 877-326-7412) at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. Lawrence recommends the popular East by West Old Fashioned, which blends Yamazaki 12 whisky with Basil Hayden’s bourbon and Licor 43, along with BittermensXocolati mole bitters and Fee Brothers black walnut bitters, garnished with a grapefruit twist and bachelor’s button flowers. “I love it when a couple steps up to the bar to order a lychee martini and a Black Label, [and then] the lady takes the Scotch.”
The Cabana Colada from the Hilton Cabana Miami Beach offers rich deep rum and coffee flavors.
“I’ve seen it evolve so much here that even when I worked at the nightclub Set last year, I’d get women asking me to make them an elaborate cocktail,” says Virginia King, bartender at The Broken Shaker (2727 Indian Creek Dr., Miami Beach, 305-531-2727), who has found that women are doing their research and asking thoughtful questions about ingredients, including mezcal, the key player in her Oaxacan Venice, which mixes mezcal, Aperol, and sweet vermouth.
The same dichotomy can be found at The Cypress Room (3620 NE Second Ave., Miami, 305-520-5197) in the Design District, where pink floral wallpaper appears alongside deer trophies, and feminine vintage glassware is used to serve liquor-forward rose-colored cocktails. “You would think that the manly spirits would be served in manly glassware, but they’re not, so women feel empowered to try them,” says bartender Noelle-Victoria Service, whose signature drink is the Bonnie & Clyde, made with Hendrick’s Gin, Solerno blood orange liqueur, and Cocchi Americano aperitif wine. The cocktail is served in charming Nick and Nora stemware, which looks like a more bowl-shaped martini glass.
While it’s fairly common in Miami to find talented women like Lawrence, King, and Service behind the bar, you don’t see many running beverage programs. An exception to the rule is Ashley Danella of The Pubbelly Restaurant Group, who oversees the bars at the Hilton Cabana Miami Beach(6261 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-864-6261). “Women are open to what’s out there, and they’re drinking more gin over vodka,” says Danella, who is partial to the Cabana Colada, made with DiplomaticoReserva rum, Panther cold-brew coffee, fresh pineapple juice, and orgeat, and garnished with a mint sprig. “They’re trusting the bartender more and ordering something they haven’t tried before.”