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The Best Cocktails In South Florida

First it was craft beer, now it’s craft cocktails. We have to admit, we love this trend. From farm-fresh fruit ingredients like blackberries and tangerines to over-the-top presentations that include smoking liquid nitrogen, these 12 handcrafted spirits are vibrant, beautiful to look at, and best of all, delicious to drink. Salud!

The Wicked Mary, Boston’s on the Beach

Already a local favorite, Boston’s on the Beach recently launched a new breakfast menu that features creative dishes like the p+b+j waffle along with this truly “wicked” bloody mary. Your morning pick-me-up cocktail is filled to the brim with vodka, San Marzano tomatoes, pure-squeezed lemon and celery juices, balsamic vinegar, freshly grated horseradish and gray Celtic sea salt and spice. Then, it’s rimmed with Old Bay seasoning and garnished with a colossal shrimp, pepper jack cheese and red piri piri pepper-stuffed olives ($10). It makes for a zesty wake-up call.

Boston’s on the Beach, 40 S. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach / 561.278.3364

Pumpkin Spice Martini, BiG City Tavern

It’s fall, and everything from your coffee to your household aromas are pumpkin-themed—so why not your happy hour, too? Order the Pumpkin Spice Martini ($10) at Big City Tavern on Las Olas Boulevard during its limited time on the menu. Liquor 43, half-and-half, house-made pumpkin puree and whipped cream vodka congregate under a foamy film you’ll wear above your lip. From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., sit at the bar and get $2 off any martini, and order a half-off appetizer. (We suggest the Asian Calamari floating in sweet and sour sauce.)

Big City Tavern, 609 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale / 954.727.0307

The Kuro, Kuro

The Kuro cocktail ($13) is intimidating, but there’s a reason it takes the same name as the restaurant itself. Kuro means “black” in Japanese, so mixologist Jared Boller uses squid ink and black sesame seeds to mask two types of rum, lime juice and pineapple. Boller categorizes this cocktail as an “umami” flavor, which translates to “pleasant savory taste.” We concur, and suggest you enjoy it with the Chocolate Hazelnut Bar for dessert.

Kuro, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood / 954.327.7625

Champagne Crush, Tanzy

Save the drama for your drink. Tanzy’s Champagne Crush ($18) arrives in a chilled martini glass spewing liquid nitrogen. But it isn’t all for show. The cocktail by master mixologist Adam Seger is as decadent as its presentation, assembled with Grand Marnier, Grey Goose Le Citron, ginger beer, lime, agave and MOET Imperial. Take it with you, and enjoy a movie at the iPic Theater just upstairs.

Tanzy, 301 Plaza Real, Boca Raton / 561.922.6699

Calle Fresca Margarita, Dos Caminos

Between mouthfuls of corn tortilla chips topped with guacamole and chapulines, or grasshoppers—yes, grasshpppers—sip the Calle Fresca Margarita ($12) at Dos Caminos. You shouldn’t find any critters in this margarita at the modern Mexican restaurant in the B Ocean Resort on Fort Lauderdale Beach, but the surprise factor is still there. This mix of Cazadores Tequila Blanco with mango, cucumber and ancho salt filled to the rim will leave you wondering where this drink’s been for all your poolside days.

Dos Caminos, 1140 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale / 954.727.7090

The Blackberry Mojito, Dada

This funky, eclectic restaurant just steps from Delray’s energetic Atlantic Avenue is so popular that reservations are a must. The crowds come to this historic-home-turned-restaurant for both the award-winning new American cuisine and the inspired cocktail menu that centers around the rum-based mojito. The star of the show is the bluish-purple blackberry mojito ($11) that’s served with Conch Republic Silver Rum and fresh blackberries. Muddled all together with fresh mint sprigs, limes and homemade simple syrup, it makes for one decadent sip after another.

Dada, 52 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach / 561.330.3232

OaxacaN Mistress, Max’s Harvest

This popular farm-to-fork restaurant is all about sustainability, but that doesn’t end with the food. The artisanal cocktails are made with fresh ingredients, including the smoky and flavorful Oaxacan Mistress ($14)–Illegal Mezcal, Ancho-Reyes Liqueur, local tangerine, smoked jalapeño and cilantro. For an after-work treat, head to Max’s Harvest from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for its daily happy hour that features half-off drinks and $5 snacks. For Sunday Funday, don’t miss the unlimited interactive bloody mary and Champagne cocktail bar for $15.

Max’s Harvest, 169 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach / 561.381.9970

Kentucky Radler, Hyde Kitchen + Cocktails

Even non-whiskey lovers will enjoy the Kentucky Radler ($14)—a whiskey-based cocktail made with freshly pressed lemon juice and house-blended maple syrup, and topped with Corona beer. If you’re looking for round two, the drink menu at the new Hyde Kitchen + Cocktails in Hallandale Beach is stacked with creative concoctions like Beet the Heat and Love Unit. For a group outing, try the Pinky’s up Punch—a bowl-sized cocktail made with Absolut vanilla vodka, apple juice, passion fruit puree, syrup and served with a full bottle of prosecco sparkling wine ($140).

Hyde Kitchen + Cocktails, South Surf Road, Hallandale Beach / 954.699.0901

Spiced Pumpkin Old-Fashioned, Sundy House

If you haven’t stumbled across this hidden gem located just a few blocks from Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, make it a point to do so. The Victorian-style bed & breakfast is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Sundy House offers an extensive Sunday brunch buffet where patrons can dine al fresco amid the inn’s lush botanical gardens. For an afternoon drink, we recommend staking out a spot at the Atrium Bar for a handcrafted cocktail created by resident mixologist Matt Swig. Our pick for fall? The Spiced Pumpkin Old-Fashioned ($11) made with Highwest Double Rye, house-made autumn spiced sugar, angostura bitters, organic maple bitters, black walnut bitters and pecan pumpkin butter.

Sundy House, 106 S. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach / 561.272.5678

Water Cooler, The Office

The last place you want to be during happy hour is the office—or so you thought. Atlantic Avenue’s The Office celebrates happy hour from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily with special prices on cocktails, like the Water Cooler, comprised of Nolet’s silver gin, fresh cucumber, lemon juice and sweet gomme. Cheers to mixing business with pleasure!

The Office, 201 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach

Fork ’n Berry Fizz, Fork & Balls

This restaurant created quite a stir when it opened on Las Olas Boulevard last year. Now that everyone’s comfortable saying the name, the restaurant has gained quite a following for its decadent meatballs and lively bar scene. One of the restaurant’s most popular handcrafted cocktails, the Fork ’n Berry Fizz ($10), features Grey Goose vodka, M&R Prosecco, Luxardo Limoncello, strawberries, basil and simple syrup. Poured into a martini glass, it’s a luxe and gorgeous-looking drink.

Fork & Balls, 1301 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale / 954.771.2257

Lemongrass Pineapple Orange, Suviche

It’s hard to choose just one of the 12 Pisco infusions at SuViche on Las Olas. The Peruvian-Japanese restaurant recently expanded north from its first location in Brickell in Miami. With it comes a full Pisco bar, serving the Lemongrass Pineapple Orange Pisco Cocktail ($10) crafted with lemongrass macerado, pineapple juice, orange juice, lemongrass juice, simple syrup and lime juice.

Suviche, 401 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale / 954.656.3663

The Perfect Bar Cart

Tools and gadgets for the most enviable bar cart in the neighborhood.

1. Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams rippled ice bucket; $185

2.Rabbit Bar tool set; $39.99; Available at metrokane.com

3. Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams beveled silver leaf coasters set of four; $105, Available at mgbwhome.com

4. Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams capri martini; $20; Available at mgbwhome.com

5. Reserva 44 Avión Tequila; $150 or $170 with custom etching at reservebar.com; Available at Crown Wine & Spirits, Cellars, Total Wine & More and other locations or tequilaavion.com

6. Z Gallerie Metropolitan bar cart; $299.95; Available at Z Gallerie at The Village at Gulfstream Park or zgallerie.com

The Bad Boys of Rum Distilling

Avi Aisenberg and Joe Durkin of South Florida Distillers are breaking the rules and making their own rum right at home in Fort Lauderdale. Here, they give us the 4-1-1 on spirits and their own specialty rum titled FWAYGO.

When did you both first get into distilling?

AVI: It started for me back in the beginning of 2012 on my move back home to take over a family business that was in South Bay. … I was always raised in an environment where my father had his own business, and in running the family business, I kept thinking, “What can I do for myself?” I saw all the sugarcane around me, I was actually doing recycling for the sugar mills. ... So I wanted to see if it was possible.

JOE: I went to the Rosen School of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida, so I was studying restaurant food service. I have always wanted my own bar, a simple bar and grille sort of thing. ... At Rosen I took as many beer and wine and beverage classes as I could. ... Like Avi said, when he moved home he wanted to start a distillery, I was like, “I’m totally on board.” With Avi being able to build the equipment, we were able to make some pretty cool stuff.

Is there a certain process that you use that is unique to your rum?

JOE: I like to tell people [that] “I’m not in the alcohol production business, I am in the fine spirits business.” So, one of the things that makes us different is I’m not actually bottling all of the alcohol. There’s something called cuts, and there’s heads, hearts and tails, and you only keep the heart. So, we are only bottling about 30 percent of our alcohol production. We actually won best in class at the Rum Renaissance Festival in Miami for premium white rum on our first batch.

What should people look for in an ideal rum?

Joe: One of the best things about rum is that there are so many different kinds. ... Unlike bourbon, where you have to follow a specific set of orders, as long as you’re making [rum] with sugarcane, that’s really the only requirement. So, our white rum is unaged and unfiltered. There’s a lot of rum out there that’s filtered and aged to make white rum and it’s good, there’s nothing wrong with that. … I don’t like rules. So that’s one of the reasons rum is so great. You could pretty much do whatever you want. As long as you’re starting with sugarcane, it’s rum.

What is the best way to prepare a rum cocktail?

JOE: One thing with rum and most cocktails is that you want to have three things: sweet, strong and sour. And that’s why with a daiquiri, you have the sweet with the sugar, the sour with the lime and the strong with the rum. ... I think the best way to test a rum is by making a daiquiri.

South Florida Distillers, 1110 NE Eighth Ave., #3C, Fort Lauderdale

— Rori Kotch