Juicy Cocktails for a Taste of Miami at Home

Ariana DiValentino


Sunny beach days, hot nights spent dancing, colorful style and culture – the city of Miami evokes lots of vibrant images and sounds, as well as scents and flavours. If you've been dreaming of a Miami getaway, get a taste of the tropics by making a dreamy, delicious cocktail with ingredients inspired by the city and its climate. Two bar professionals with considerable experience in the Miami nightlife scene shared these recipes that, to them, exemplify the spirit of Miami. Try their recipes for these two adult beverages – both of which rely on fresh fruit juice to really pack a punch, but each utilises a different spirit and overall flavour profile. Break out your juiciest citrus and get ready to dream of the white sands and turquoise waters of the Florida coast.

Lots of lime, easy on the sugar

Danny Argueta has long been the lead bartender at Bougainvillea’s Old Florida Tavern in south Miami, arguably the area’s most popular nightlife spot and better known as “Bougie’s” to the locals. Bougie’s has been the lively spot it’s known as today for two decades, and is housed in a Depression-era old house with dark paneling where folks gather to dance, drink, and enjoy live music.

“The quintessential Miami drink needs to be citrusy and fresh,” Argueta told ASW, “and since we are in Miami we probably wanna go low carb.” For those reasons, Argueta’s proposal for the Miamiest drink ever is a key lime mojito, made with vodka instead of rum to cut back on sugar. He opts for Zyr, a crisp and smooth Russian vodka. Argueta’s recipe is sweetened with just a bit of agave syrup to help balance out the boozy and acidic flavours.

The key lime, for those who don’t know, is smaller, more aromatic, and sometimes sweeter than standard Persian limes. Though it gets its name from the Florida Keys, it was actually brought to North America by Spanish explorers and originates from Southeast Asia. All of this is to say that you may be able to find key limes at your local market even if you’re nowhere near the fruit’s namesake. The taste is distinct, so try to use key limes rather than another variety if possible.

Make it yourself: Key Lime Mojito

60 mL vodka (Zyr recommended)

22 mL agave syrup

30 mL fresh key lime juice

5 mint leaves

Soda topper (optional)

Add vodka, agave syrup, and lime juice to a cocktail shaker. Clap the mint leaves in your hands to express their essential oils, then add them to the shaker as well. Muddle to release flavors. Add ice and shake well, then pour into a glass over ice. Top with a splash of club soda if desired, and garnish with more fresh mint and lime.

Pineapple, spice, and everything nice

Also weighing in on the Miami cocktail question is Julia Schwartz, general manager of Tanuki, an Asian fusion restaurant in Miami’s ritzy South Beach neighborhood. Though Tanuki’s menu primarily focuses on Japanese and Chinese culinary influences, Schwartz chose this drink specifically for its Latin and Central American flavour elements, such as tropical fruit and agave. The combination is both delicious, and a nod to Miami’s diverse, multicultural population.

The cocktail Schwartz put forth is called the Ohigan, and it starts with serrano pepper-infused mezcal, balanced by pineapple and lime juices and smoked agave. In Schwartz’s words, “iit infuses so many signature Latin and central American ingredients into one glass, and it serves up a spicy bite along with its cooling citrus for hot Miami weather.”

The weather isn’t all that’s hot. Tanuki uses a house-infused serrano chili mezcal for the cocktail’s base. Those attempting to replicate this spicy sweet drink at home would be advised to first try infusing small amounts of mezcal with chili peppers, then move up to a larger format (like an entire bottle) once you’ve figured out a method for getting the amount of heat just right. Of course, if you’re not a fan of spicy cocktails or are just in a pinch, you could always use a regular, non-infused liquor. Schwartz’s spirit of choice for this cocktail is Doña Vega mezcal.

Make it yourself: Ohigan

45 mL mezcal (Doña Vega preferred), infused with serrano chiles

45 mL fresh pineapple juice

30 mL fresh lime juice

15 mL smoked agave

Infuse your mezcal (see notes above) with serrano chiles, to taste, if desired. Add infused mezcal, smoked agave syrup, pineapple juice, and lime juice (fresh if possible) to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake 15-20 seconds until chilled, then pour into a glass over ice. Garnish with a dehydrated pineapple slice and a bamboo leaf, if available, for a touch of Tanuki’s artistic presentation. 

Become a member to join the conversation!

Become part of the world's leading travel & lifestyle community!