4 Great Rooftop Bars in Miami
By Carlos Harrison
High in the sky above Miami Beach lies a place of zen.
It's a place for pleasure, for refuge, for gathering with friends. It's a place where a painstaking attention to meticulous detail, distinctively delicious drinks, and, as they say in real estate, “location, location, location” combine for an unforgettable experience – and one that no stay in South Florida should do without.
The place is Juvia, winner of the James Beard Foundation’s award for Outstanding Restaurant Design, ensconced atop the wraparound roof adjacent to the iconic Herzog & de Meuron building at the entrance of Lincoln Road.
It’s an oasis in the sky, deliberately and diligently designed to reflect the essence of the city it stands above – with sky, water, and tropical greenery elegantly incorporated into the décor.
A 22-foot-tall vertical garden spans the length of the dining terrace at the entrance, connecting the indoors and out as it flows into the glass-walled interior. Designed by the internationally renowned botanist Patrick Blanc, the living wall of lush local foliage creates a cascade of shades of green and subtle purple, spilling delicately beside a table of petrified wood.
A serene stone-lined rectangle surrounded by purple cushioned-banquette seats forms an Art Deco waterfall so gentle it seems frozen. There are handwoven chairs, a whitewashed oak ceiling and, everywhere, splashes of purple and delicate gray. There’s even an amethyst bar top inside that glows at night.
“I believe that a restaurant has a language,” said Jonas Millan, who, along with his wife, Alexandra, created and co-owns Juvia. “When you go to a restaurant and you find that it’s beautiful, but somehow you're not completely convinced that you like it, it's because there's not a constant language throughout everything: The way you arrive. The way your water is served. The table. The napkins. The glasses. The lighting. Everything needs to add up toward the same end.”
See? Painstaking detail. Just look at the purple napkins.
“We spent, I think it was like five months trying to pick napkins,” said Millan. “Everyone rents their napkins in the U.S. But we wanted to have a purple napkin. And one with a print. So we started getting samples from New York, from Italy, from Turkey, from Peru. And at the end, we ended up with this napkin that would represent, I think really, the whole thing. … It’s part of what we are trying to accomplish.”
Even the name, Juvia, demonstrates the owners’ careful consideration.
It sounds like the Spanish word for rain. It’s a name for the Brazil-nut tree in parts of Venezuela, where the owners are from. And, importantly, it’s easy on the American tongue.
“Sometimes when you go into exotic names, people don't know how to pronounce it,” Millan said. But, also, in Venezuela, he said, “in the little rural villages they use the nut to make a bread called pan de pobre, poor man's bread, to feed their kids. So there was a little history.”
The menu’s just as intentional – a sophisticated, yet fun, Latin-Asian fusion that will surprise and satisfy just about any palate. Hamachi espuma. Lobster ceviche. Wagyu short ribs and “octopus anticucho.”
So, too, the drinks. The signature cocktails are conceived and concocted with the same care that went into the planning of the place itself.
The Jalisco Flower includes Suze, Dolin Blanc, Peychaud’s bitters, and “Juvia Barrel” reposado tequila, distilled exclusively for its namesake by Avión Tequila. The Perfect Yuzu mixes up Grey Goose vodka, yuzu sake, lime juice and vanilla syrup in a smooth and tangy blend that lives up to its name. The Juvia Gin Tonic forges Bombay Sapphire East gin, umeshu, shiso and tonic water into a refreshing blend that’s a soothing as a fresh sea breeze.
And then there are the purposefully unobstructed views, from Atlantic Ocean to Biscayne Bay. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls extend the length of the exterior, offering unparalleled vistas of the sky, skyline, and sea no matter where you sit.
Said New York City resident Chad Matthews, “That’s the one spot where you get the best views of South Beach whether you’re indoors or outdoors.”
When you go…
1111 Lincoln Rd. Miami Beach, Fl 33139
Other great rooftop bars:
Go East, young man! To East, the luxurious residence hotel at the edge of Mary Brickell Village in the heart of Miami’s newly booming, increasingly upscale, and decidedly chic financial district. Then go up, 40 floors up. The rooftop bar, Sugar, offers classy cocktails and tapas overlooking downtown Miami. It’s got an exotically Indonesian appeal, with its luxuriant foliage, comfortable patterned rattan and engraved settees, and ornately carved wood bar. The drinks fit the theme. There’s a Lychee Blossom, A Night in Hong Kong, and an East of Miami. 788 Brickell Plaza, 40th Floor, Miami, FL 33131; (786) 805-4655
Up on the 16th floor of the Epic hotel in downtown Miami. I kinda like standing by the railing as the sun is setting and looking down on a rooftop soccer game being played a few blocks away, or just gawking down at the mouth of the Miami River where it lets into Biscayne Bay. Daytime or night, Area 31 offers a one-of-a-kind panoramic view of the place where Miami started, and of the place it has become. It’s also one of the places where you can pair something from the bar with a cigar you pick from their menu. You can go big with a Padron Family Reserve No. 45 and a Ron Zacapa Xo from Guatemala, if that’s your thing. Or try a different kind of smoke, a Smoke & Mirrors, made with Wild Turkey Bourbon, Carpano Antica, Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters, Islay Rinse, and Flamed Orange.
270 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Miami, FL 33131; (305) 424-5234
Above Mayfair Pool Lounge
Atop the Mayfair Hotel & Spa in Miami’s historic Coconut Grove, this rooftop getaway offers a unique view of the city skyline and Biscayne Bay. Bask in the glow of the setting sun on the “serpentine bench” that winds around the parapet. It’s also got eight poolside cabanas with L-shaped sofas, if you’re craving a little extra privacy. Warm nights are cooler sipping a Biscayne Breeze, with amaretto, Blue Curaçao, pineapples and Prosecco.
3000 Florida Avenue, Coconut Grove, FL 33133; (305) 441-0000