In a city where it feels like it’s always summer, Miamians know it’s important to keep hydrated (and also caffeinated) making the beverage selection a very important one.
From strong coffee to start the day, to frozen cocktails on the sand, and milkshakes that could easily replace a meal — Miami’s love affair of beverages knows no bounds. Below is the unofficial, highly-opinionated guide to the eight best drinks Miami has to offer that keep the Magic City thriving and hydrated.
Made originally in the heart of Hialeah, this pineapple soda found its way from Cuba to the states and has been in the hearts of Miamians ever since. Jupina is a carbonated sweet pineapple soda whose name is a clever shortened version of “jugo de pina” aka juice of pineapple. Consider this the soda version of a pineapple pixie stick when it comes to its level of sweetness. Find Jupina at supermarkets and Cuban restaurants all over the city.
7. Miami Vice
The quintessential Miami cocktail is also the perfect beachside cocktail. The rum-based concoction is not inspired by the show — it actually came first — but by the city itself. The Miami Vice is a marriage of a strawberry daiquiri and a pina colada made with dark rum, light rum, coconut cream, pineapple juice, simple syrup, bitters, and strawberries. More often than not it’s served frozen, though the original recipe calls for crushed ice and a layering of the cocktail ingredients over the muddled strawberries. Head over to any beach-front bar or hotel to find this appropriately named Miami classic.
6. Rum Runner
With its origin just a few miles south in the Florida Key of Islamorada, it is a no brainer for Miami to adopt the Rum Runner as one of its own. Named after the brave souls who smuggled rum during Prohibition, the Rum Runner’s origin is result of Holiday Isle’s Tiki Bar creating a strong punch to move its large inventory of rum on hand. Made with a combination of light and dark rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, banana liqueur, blackberry liqueur, and a splash of grenadine, it’s a fruity concoction that is certainly stronger than it tastes. Head to the newly renovated Tiki Bar at Postcard Inn (84001 Overseas Highway) for the authentic experience about an hour outside of Miami, or Monty’s Raw Bar (2550 South Bayshore Drive) where the drink is a popular happy hour choice.
5. Strawberry Milkshake
So maybe Miami didn’t invent the strawberry milkshake, but with places like Robert is Here (19200 SW 344th Street) and Knaus Berry Farm (12741 SW 216th Street) it certainly feels like Miami has perfected it. There’s just something special about a milkshake made with strawberries grown just a few feet away. Every Miamian knows a trip down to south Miami-Dade to neighborhoods like Homestead or the Redlands deserves a road-side farm stand stop for a fruit milkshake — most often those of the strawberry variation. While Robert is Here and Knaus Berry Farm are the most well-known, chances are most fruit stands that sell strawberries and make milkshakes are ready to serve up a tasty one.
4. Cafe con Leche
A cafe con leche is how many Miami coffee drinkers got their start. Cafe con leche, or coffee with milk, is a shot of very strong coffee (typically a cafecito or espresso shot) inside a glass of frothed warm milk. It’s very similar to a latte, and is often used to dip Cuban toast into at breakfast. If it’s being made by someone’s abuela, don’t be surprised if condensed milk is used instead of regular milk to give this caffeinated delight an extra touch of thickness and sugar. Every grandmother in town, along with anywhere who serves Cuban coffee, can make a proper cafe con leche.
Unlike a frozen daiquiri (though Miami does love those), this classic cocktail is served straight up. The citrusy drink made with light rum, lime juice, and simple syrup, and is another libation from Cuba that Miami has embraced as its own. It’s the ideal drink to sip during happy hour while catching up with friends, or for those desiring a stronger drink on a warmer evening. Order one (or several) of these at any bar in the city or try the drink at Cafe La Trova (971 SW 8th Street) where it will be made by a classically trained Cuban cantinero.
Miami loves its Cuban influences, especially when it comes to beverages. This simple cocktail can be found on most menus and may be one of the most Miami drinks on the scene. It’s a traditional Cuban highball made with light rum, sugar, lime, mint, and soda water, that is first muddled with mint and lime in the bottom of the glass before adding the rest of the ingredients. It’s the kind of herbaceous cocktail that can keep up with the eternal summers found in Miami, due to its light and sippable nature. Head over to Little Havana’s Ball & Chain (1513 SW 8th Street) to order the most well-known version of this adopted Miami beverage.
The number one essential drink in Miami is the one that can be found no matter the time of day — from first thing in the morning, in the afternoon (sometimes specifically 3:05 p.m.), or even after dinner, chances are the smell of a strong cafecito fills the air somewhere within a 500 foot radius. Significantly stronger than a regular shot of espresso, this Cuban espresso is the fuel that keeps Miami running. When it comes to cafecito, everyone knows the importance of the espuma (a sweet foam created on top of the coffee made by mixing sugar with the first few drops of coffee that comes out of the pot). Veteran cafecito drinkers can handle several shots of this slightly sweetened coffee a day, but if it’s being served to someone for the first time — it’s always nice to warn them of the possible heart palpitations they may experience soon after. Just follow the scent of coffee to the nearest ventanita to order this Miami staple.