By Carla Torres | February 29, 2016 | Culture
The good times in Miami run seven nights a week, 365 days a year. Follow Ocean Drive for the latest in where to go, what to do, and especially what to eat and drink.
The always wild Favela Beach bash at Wall.
Another Friday night with nothing to do,” said nobody visiting or living in Miami, ever. Be it Friday night or Sunday morning, summer or winter, picture-perfect weather conditions or tropical storm status, Magic City revelers take #NoDaysOff. From frequent restaurant, bar, and nightclub openings to music, arts, Renaissance, yoga, rum, craft beer, chocolate, seafood, and rosé festivals week after week, there’s never a dull moment.
In fact, Miami’s problem is that there are often too many places to be, celebrities to see, and parties to attend—all the time. “Miami isn’t just a night spot; it’s a lifestyle spot,” says the city’s nightlife king David Grutman. So how does anyone navigate the throng? Here’s how to live the Miami life:
Miami—specifically Wall at the W South Beach—turns up with its long-standing (seven years and going strong) Favela Beach party. “Miami set—and still sets—all the trends for the nightlife industry,” says Nicola Siervo, who started the world-renowned bash at Mokaï before moving it to the intimate, and off-the-beaten-path, club that’s chockfull of models and international accents. Across the bridge, Bardot’s lack of signage, zero-photography policy, and can’t-see-anything lighting make the hot spot a great place to make bad decisions, especially during the city’s funkiest dance party, Slap & Tickle. Our Magic City also knows how to strike the right balance between low-key and highbrow—think jazz courtesy of local groove masters Nineties Color coupled with a croque-madame whipped up by former Michy’s and Zuma alum Melissa Cala at unassuming hipster hangout The Corner. Follow that with a show and popping bottles till all hours (there is no such thing as last call when you’re open for business 24/7) across the street at club E11even, which depending on the night might have A-Trak, Diplo, or Drake stealing the spotlight away from the acrobatic dancers. Tired yet?
While Wednesday marks the middle of the workweek for the rest of the country, “hump day” is when the party at LIV, the number-four-highest-grossing nightclub in the country, starts. The posh megaclub goes indie with Miami’s cool-kid crowd breaking it down on the dance floor, and under-the-radar talent that will likely soon go mainstream work the decks at this weekly soirée, dubbed Dirty Hairy. (Disclaimer: The door situation is tough unless you know a promoter, even on a Wednesday.) From one packed door to another, Bâoli’s notorious My Boyfriend Is Out of Town affair (which has surely ended one or two [hundred] relationships) continues to be the place to be seen dancing on tables and be photographed by the World Red Eye photographers who have the tough job of documenting the country’s wildest nightlife (someone’s got to do it). Pro tip: Don’t forget to hashtag #myboyfriendisoutoftown. If your goal is a little less wild, stop by proper cocktail bar The Regent Cocktail Club for its Havana Nights that bring Cuban flavor to Miami Beach. Mixologist and cantinero Julio Cabrera shakes and stirs drinks while a Cuban band takes you back in time and to la isla. Any night is a good night for Purdy Lounge in Sunset Harbour, where reggae reigns supreme (follow the neon-lit sign to the “back room” where it’s always sunset), or Bodega Taqueria y Tequila, just off Alton Road, whose love me, fuck me sign might be the most shared backdrop on social media. Over on the mainland, Brickell hot spot Sidebar and the historic Ball & Chain in Little Havana give you a chance to drop the mic during karaoke nights. Avoid the forthcoming Thursday-morning hangover with a sandwich from La Sandwicherie or chicken salad croissant from Casola’s. You’re welcome.
If Wednesdays are the new Friday, Thursdays are weekend primetime, and what happens during weekend primetime in Miami? Yachts flooded with celebrities and models pull up to Seaspice for five-hour lunches and giant bottles of rosé; $400 seafood towers and Champagne sparklers are served at Villa Azur’s lavish dinner party; and Lil Jon celebrates his birthday with Peking duck at David Grutman’s new trilevel restaurant and lounge, Komodo. “It used to be that all the action happened on South Beach, but celebrities are crossing the bridge and coming to Brickell,” says Grutman. Indeed, in just the few months Komodo has been open for business, it’s already attracted Naomi Campbell and The Weeknd, as well as Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, who come here to refuel after games. Stay on that side of the bridge and venture to Ball & Chain, where you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into 1950s Cuba for gratis salsa lessons (every Thursday at 9 pm), or Miami’s most clandestine drinking den Libertine for absinthe cocktails and curated beats. Speaking of beats, Thursday might as well be hip-hop night considering Rec Room, 1 Hotels South Beach, and Bodega are all thumping with old-school tracks. “You won’t hear any music from 2000 onward,” says Zac Courtney, 1 Hotels’ director of nightlife and daylife, a title that proves partying in Miami has become a full-time occupation.
While the rest of the country is wearing business casual and taking hour-long lunches, Miamians are curing our week-long hangover with a rigorous workout at Chris Paciello’s social mecca-meets-fitness center, Anatomy at 1220, where some of the city’s most worshiped DJs (Cedric Gervais, David Guetta) also work out. At the club, refuel with an IV infusion by in-house Vita Squad before heading to the Veuve happy hour (6 to 11 pm) at The Forge. At $50 a bottle with complimentary hors d’oeuvres from Michelin-starred toque Christopher Lee, Fridays are all about living the dream and making mistakes. While the possibilities are endless (LIV, E11even, Icon, Story, Beaker & Gray, Lilt Lounge, Foxhole, Bleau Bar, Matador Room, The Electric Pickle Company, Trade, Treehouse, Radio Bar), you’ll want to start your night with supper at the hyper-local 27 Restaurant & Bar (order the local catch) and then take it upstairs for the best cocktails in town and sounds that’ll make you want to dance by Pirate Stereo. From there, the city is your oyster.
Last night was real, and so is the impending hangover. Nothing a pool party or two plus some bourbon milk punch and a pork tonkatsu sandwich at Vagabond Restaurant & Bar or bottomless mimosas and cookies-and-cream French toast at The Federal can’t fix. If you want your brunch with a side of revelry, Bagatelle’s notorious bacchanalia makes you forget that it’s daytime thanks to black-out curtains, and features a flying Superman and Wonder Woman who hand-deliver bottles to your table. Blinds up at 4 pm— aka closing time—are a reminder you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here. Consider making your way to Miami’s first cabaret dinner-and-a-show club, El Tucán, where an 11-piece band, directed by Grammy winner Marlow Rosado, Thursday through Saturday, is the sonic backdrop for everrotating performances that range from an Adele doppelgänger to a clown who sings like Lorde. This place gives new meaning to the social media phrase “doing it for the ’gram.” Think you can dance? Prove it at Underground Story’s Saturday party, where the best techno DJs will make you forget who you are. Chances are they’ll keep the party going after hours at Space, where primetime is 7 am and house legend Loco Dice made history by playing a 16-hour set on the infamous terrace. Team No Sleep is in full effect.
Sundays were made for brunching and pool-partying, from Privileged Sundays at the Delano Beach Club that combine pool party and spa day (there are poolside treatments) into one to Nikki Beach’s never-ending spread of paella, deconstructed eggs Benedict, and Bloody Mary bar to Shaker Sundays’ poolside barbecue, complete with guest chefs and cocktails from The Broken Shaker, one of the world’s 50 best bars. If the sun is shining and the weather is sweet, start your day with gratis yoga overlooking the bay at the Mondrian. Then stick around for the sunshine-vibes pool party and spike fresh coconuts with rum or vodka. Who knows, recording artist Talib Kweli just might pop in to do a surprise set (again). For a highly caffeinated dose of “forget everything,” it’s back to Collins Avenue and SLS’s Hyde Beach weekend pool party, where the only thing hotter than the water is the scenery. If you’re all about living organic, 1 Hotels’ organic Sundays fuse a healthy brunch with tropical and deep house. Get your Bingo on the first Sunday of every month with The Standard’s game night hosted by drag icon Shelley Novak; the event includes tie-breaking dance-offs and prizes ranging from spa treatments to one-night stays at the South Beach sanctuary. Just when you think you’ve had enough debauchery, it’s time to go to church (aka LIV on Sunday). Leave confession for tomorrow and sin some more at what has “become not the biggest hip-hop party in Miami, but in the world,” as Grutman describes it. When Jay Z is launching his new album, he does it here. Whenever Lil Wayne has a table (which is practically every Sunday), he gets onstage for an impromptu performance. Says Grutman, “It’s one of these special cities.” Indeed, while most cities are a ghost town at 2 am, South Beach is peaking. “You can go from the club to after hours in downtown and right on to the yacht or beach club and do it all over again,” says Grutman. “It’s a vicious cycle, which is amazing.” That’s why Sunday in Miami doesn’t represent the end…
There’s no such thing as a case of the Mondays for Miamians. Not when you can have a boozy brunch instead of a working lunch at Social Club on South Beach, complete with a cinnamon-roll-hybrid waffle and more than your average bottomless mimosas (think watermelon, mango, and white peach); Area 31 at the Epic in downtown (where you can get your green juice spiked with vodka); and Morgans in Wynwood (because mascarpone- and raspberry-stuffed French toast should be an everyday occurrence). Yet there are still people in town who have jobs, which is why happy hour is always a happening time. Start by visiting bartending legend John Lermayer’s South Beach watering hole Sweet Liberty, where you can slurp 75 cent oysters and wash them down with handcrafted Moscow mules, old-fashioneds, and rosé on tap (yes, on tap). To keep the bubbly bubbling after sundown, head to STK for its full-blown dinner party Magnum Monday, where Cowboy rib eyes and its famed little burgers come with a 1.5-liter bottle of Champagne and a Will Smith or Miami Heat spotting. The extended weekend continues at the Delano’s underground digs FDR, where It party girl YesJulz’s weekly hip-hop and reggae jam has become a ritual for locals wanting to start their workweek with a bang. You can even untz-untz your Monday night away with Made in Miami DJ/producer Oscar G’s Murk Mondays at not-so-secret speakeasy Coyo in Wynwood. Don’t want to leave the beach? Compete in a bowling tournament hosted by a drag queen, complete with costumes, favors, and drinking games, at Basement at the swank Miami Beach Edition. But perhaps no other venue is as fresh and new as nightlife veteran Chris Paciello’s Rockwell, where the guest list has included Dwyane Wade, Lenny Kravitz, DJ Khaled, and Ryan Phillippe (who celebrated his engagement here), as well as surprise performances by Nas (who declared it his favorite club in town). The best part? Rockwell is on Washington Avenue, which is so #2016, with a touch of throwback.
“Monday nights might seem like the start of the week,” says Paciello, “but in Miami, Mondays have been the last day of the weekend since 1993 when I relaunched the Fat Black Pussy Cat and it became so big people flew in just for the night. DJ Khaled actually launched his career during that Monday party when he was a teenager, and two decades later, he’s still partying it up during our Mondays at Rockwell.” Revelry, it seems, is #MajorKey.