Fort Lauderdale is a Shining Star in the US Craft Cocktail Scene
There is only one word to describe the craft cocktail scene in Greater Fort Lauderdale, and it is “OUTSTANDING.” As a New Yorker, we have one of the best cocktail cultures in the game. Therefore, I’m used to being disappointed when I travel. In fact, last year when I traveled the world for the whole year I stopped drinking the last six months because I was tired of being let down by sub-par cocktails. When I took my first sip of a cocktail in Greater Fort Lauderdale however, I knew I had discovered a hidden treasure. The bottom line is that this city knows how to make a proper drink.
On my first night in town, I was joined by the locally famous and equally fabulous, Renée Korbel Quinn, who runs Spirited South Florida. The brand is dedicated to supporting good causes through raising money at craft cocktail inspired events. She enlightened me on the best spots to get a proper drink in the area. Together with an Uber in tow, we explored the city while tasting drinks from the most iconic spots. Though I didn’t get to all of these in one night, this list goes over all the spots I visited during my three-day trip that I recommend you visit if you love a nice cocktail.
This New Orleans’ inspired bar is part of a two-story restaurant that has an open-air rooftop and balcony looking over Fort Lauderdale’s trendy Las Olas Boulevard. They also offer live music every night.
I had my favorite drink in the city here. It’s called the Marie Laveau aka “voodoo queen”. The drink has Creyente mezcal, jalapeno, lemon, and basil. It’s everything you would want in a signature cocktail; multi-dimensional, smoky, sweet, and refreshing. The rest of their drinks are just as impressive. Plus the bartender was very knowledgeable and skilled, which made my experience there exquisite. thebalconylasolas.com
MILK MONEY BAR & KITCHEN:
Milk Money is a cozy neighborhood cocktail bar that has a full-service kitchen serving breakfast, lunch, and late-night dishes. They have classic, craft, and kombucha cocktails and a large selection of craft beers.
I ordered a drink called the “Sailor to Pirate” that came with a unique presentation. The drink is made with Oak and Cane rum, simple syrup, and aromatic bitters. It’s served with a massive pina colada ice block and a stick of cinnamon that is lit on fire. Then the drink and the smoking cinnamon stick are placed in a wooden treasure chest and served to the guest. I felt as if I was receiving a present when the bartender handed me the closed treasure chest. When I opened it smoke filled the air that smelled of sweet cinnamon and campfire. It was such an exciting way to have a nightcap! milkmoneybar.com
The Wilder is a free-spirited cocktail bar that creates masterfully executed libations. The space is quite massive and consists of two indoor rooms and a terrace. I loved The Wilder because of the subtle tropical vibes combined with a prohibition type feel.
Cocktails are beautifully presented with flowers and dried fruit, and come in a stunning variety of colors. I ordered the “We Want Prenup”, which was made with sage infused Ford’s Gin, Routin Dry vermouth, lemon, honey, blueberry, and greek yogurt. intothewilder.com
Having a drink at The Apothecary seems like you’re on a 1920’s movie set. It’s an elegant speakeasy that is tucked inside of Pizza Craft. The interior of this bar alone makes it worth visiting.
The walls are covered with a red and black fabric, the furniture is reminiscent of the jazz age and there is a massive iron lion in the center of the room. Behind the bar, an expert mixologist creates cocktail magic and, occasionally, climbs up and down a bar ladder to reach the rarer spirits.
Here I had a mysterious black cocktail called the Consumer Advisory that was made using botanist gin, velvet falernum (an island spice liqueur), pineapple
syrup, lemon juice and thyme. apothecary330.com
ROOFTOP @ 1WLO:
For a panoramic view of Fort Lauderdale’s gorgeous skyline head over to Rooftop @ 1WLO. This open-air patio bar is located stories above the famous Las Olas Boulevard and the New River. The interior has a swanky, laid-back vibe with plenty of seating for relaxing. For a drink, I selected a mezcal cocktail that was served over a huge ice cube ball and presented to me poured from a round-bottom flask. The drinks at Rooftop @ 1WLO are ever-evolving and hand-crafted by their resident mixologists. You’ll know you’re in good hands here. rooftop1wlo.com.
Though I didn’t have a chance to make it to Stache during my time in Greater Fort Lauderdale, my cocktail expert friend Renee raved about it. That’s why I’m adding it to this list. Stache is a coffee bar by day and drinking den by night. It was recently voted one of the coolest speakeasies in the United States and a top Whiskey Bar in America by USA Today. It seems that the motto at Stache is “more” because they also have a concert hall that has live entertainment, burlesque/cabaret shows, bands, and DJs. The bottom line is that no matter what type of nightlife scene you’re looking for, you can probably find it at Stache. stacheftl.com
Those are six cocktail bars I recommend visiting if you’re headed to Greater Fort Lauderdale. For even more suggestions, read my articles on the adventure and culinary scene in the area, or check out my recommended itinerary for visiting sunny Southern Florida. Cheers!