Category Archives: Beer

Mia at Biscayne Grand Opening

After months of anticipation, downtown Miami’s new restaurant, lounge and nightclub is finally open!

Mia at BiscayneMia at Biscayne was filled Friday night with diners and downtowners getting their first taste of what’s sure to become a hot spot.

Located at the corner of Biscayne Boulevard and Flagler Street, Mia will breathe new life into downtown, especially at night and on the weekends.

Whether it’s lunch, dinner, drinks or dancing, Mia at Biscayne has it all.

MiaMiaThe space boasts four main areas: a main dining room that can be transformed into a dance floor, a second dining room with a sushi bar, an upstairs lounge area that overlooks the main room with private tables for food and bottle service, and an outdoor area with couches.  Inside on both floors, large flat screen TVs show music videos.

MiaMiaAt the helm in the kitchen is Executive Chef Gerdy Rodriguez.  No stranger to the South Florida food scene, Chef Rodriguez was formerly the executive chef at The Regent Bal Harbour and chef de cuisine at Café Sambal at the Mandarin Oriental.  His menu is a mix of Spain, Latin America and Japan.  There is everything from sushi and cebiche to tapas and parrillada (a mixed grill of skirt steak, quail, chorizo, chicken, lamb and chimichurri).

The extensive cocktail menu is creative as well.  I tried the Thaibasil, a refreshing and slightly sweet mix of vodka, sake, sour mix, basil syrup and Thai basil leaves.  It’s a drink I will definitely be ordering again.  Though there aren’t many wines by the glass, there is a pretty good selection of wines by the bottle, all reasonably priced.  Bottles of Champagne and liquor are also fairly priced.

Mia at Biscayne opens at 11am every day and closes at 2am Sunday through Wednesday and 5am Thursday through Saturday.  With hours like these, Mia is a great place to begin or end a night out.

Click here for my more recent article on Mia at Biscayne’s VIP Grand Opening

Eos: A New Dawn for Old World Cuisine

You’d better visit Eos now because once word spreads about the great food you’ll need a reservation.

EosEos is the new Mediterranean-inspired restaurant from Chef Michael Psilakis (whose New York City restaurant Anthos is one of only two Greek restaurants in the world with a Michelin star), and restaurateur Donatella Arpaia.  It’s located on the 15th floor of the Viceroy hotel at the northern end of Brickell Avenue, a short trip over the bridge from downtown Miami.

EosThe word Eos means “new dawn” in Greek.  This idea is captured in both Psilakis’ modern take on his native cuisine and the restaurant’s bright mix of geometric shapes and eye-catching furniture.  At intimate tables for two you’ll feel like a king, sitting on the oversized grey chairs.

The menu at Eos is part Greek, part Mediterranean and part Japanese.  You order from it like you would order at a tapas bar.  From sashimi and salads to poultry and fish, everything is meant to be shared.  The friendly waitstaff are happy to guide your selections.

If you like sushi, you’ll find an array of fresh fish on the menu.  However, the portions are smaller and the fish is more expensive than most sushi restaurants, so you may want to skip it unless you’re craving raw fish.  I’d recommend trying the Beausoleil oyster ceviche or lamb tatare instead.

lobster and sea urchin risottoMy favorite dish on the menu is the lobster and sea urchin risotto.  It is just as rich and decadent as it sounds.  The creaminess of the risotto is enhanced by the melt-in-your-mouth texture and salty taste of the sea urchin.  There’s plenty of large chunks of lobster to share, even though you won’t want to.  There’s even caviar thrown in for good measure.  I could easily eat this risotto every night.

smoked octopusAnother must-taste dish is the smoked octopus.  It’s a dish I couldn’t get enough of during my trip to Greece two years ago.  Biting into Eos’ version transported me back to my favorite tiny cafe overlooking the dazzling blue-green Aegean Sea.

I also enjoyed the whole grilled Loup de Mer (seabass).  Though it looks basic in preparation, the fish is moist and flavorful.  Even if you don’t like having to work for your food, this dish is worth trying.  The seabass is cut into sections which makes it easier to get to the meat, and there are very few small bones.

A big disappointment was the crispy rabbit, which came out looking more like chicken fingers.  The meat was hidden under a thick and salty crust and was fried beyond recognition.  Even after I peeled off the crust the meat was dry and salty.  I kind of felt bad for the rabbit — the poor little guy deserves more respect than this preparation!

If you know you’ll be dining at Eos at least three days in advance and are feeling adventurous, call ahead to order from the “big party” section of the menu.  It’s modeled after traditional celebratory feasts held throughout the Mediterranean region.  The chef will prepare spring lamb, baby kid goat or suckling pig for your special dinner.

While Eos excels with food, it falls a little flat with drinks.  Many of the cocktails sound better than they taste.  The bright pink Pisco Campari Sour I ordered was too sweet to drink with the meal.  If you like rum I’d suggest ordering it neat or on the rocks instead of in the Eos Especial or the Viceroy Old Fashioned.  Though the wine list is a little limited, it does feature bottles that you won’t find at many other restaurants.

This month Eos is launching a Wine Dinner Series organized by the restaurant’s wine director, Sergio Caceres.  The first dinner on June 23rd will feature winemaker Peter Figge of Figge Cellars in Monterey County, California.  The dinner is from 7 to 9pm and costs $95 per person, including tax and gratuity.  To reserve a spot call 305-503-4400 ext 7151.

If you’re a fan of Greek sweets you’ll be disappointed by the lack of Greek desserts at Eos.  Sure there are tasty options like tiramisu or flan but you can find those at many other restaurants.  Even a basic baklava would be a welcome addition.

Still, all I need at Eos is the lobster and sea urchin risotto and the smoked octopus.  A warning to my future dining companions: order your own since I’m not sharing!

Eos at Viceroy Miami is located at 485 Brickell Avenue in Miami.

River Lounge & Club 50: Downtown Miami's Newest Hot Spots

Who wants to deal with traffic on South Beach when there are new bars and lounges opening up all the time in downtown Miami?  For a fun evening out, skip the ocean and head to the river.  Right on the Miami River you’ll find River Lounge and Club 50, the latest in the downtown/Brickell nightlife scene.

River Lounge

River LoungeRiver Lounge is located on the ground floor of the Epic Hotel on Biscayne Boulevard Way.  Thirty-foot windows and an outdoor seating area offer direct views of boats cruising along the river.  Since its packed opening party, River Lounge has become the place for young professionals to meet for a post-work drink or to party all night.

River LoungeIf you’re bored with your usual cocktail be sure to check out River Lounge’s creative drink menu.  In it you’ll find tempting tipples like the Blushing Geisha (sake, TY KU citrus liqueur, sour mix, fresh lime juice and simple syrup), Amante Picante (tequila, cucumber slices, cilantro, fresh lime juice and a dash of green Tabasco), and the Jalisco Sidecar (Hennessy VS Cognac, Patron XO Café tequila, fresh lemon juice and simple syrup).  My favorite is the Brazilian Passion, a caipirinha made with passion fruit puree.

If you’re hungry head up to the 16th floor to Area 31.  The Mediterranean-influenced menu features some of the freshest seafood in downtown.

Club 50

Directly across the water from River Lounge is the towering Viceroy Hotel.  At the top you’ll find Club 50.  Half indoor bar, half outdoor pool lounge, it’s sophisticated without being pretentious.

Club 50If you’re looking for a great view of Miami, this is the spot.  West-facing windows making Club 50 the place to be just before sunset.  While watching the lights of the city come on you can sip one of Club 50’s signature cocktails and nibble on light fare.

The pool area is open only to Viceroy guests and residents of the adjoining Icon Brickell during the day, but at night it’s transformed into a club with a DJ spinning music.  Windows on all sides let you enjoy being outdoors without worrying about the wind.

Club 50Club 50 wins the prize for having the bathrooms with the best views.  Large windows let you peer down towards Brickell Key and the water.  Even if you don’t need to visit the restroom, it’s worth checking out before you leave.

When you’re ready for dinner, head to Eos on the 15th floor.  Award-winning Chef Michael Psilakis modernizes dishes from his native Greece with a menu that includes Mediterranean and Asian influences.  The lobster and sea urchin risotto is out of this world.

With River Lounge and Club 50 within a short walk of each other, you’ll just have to decide on which side of the river to begin your night out.

River Lounge is located inside the Epic Hotel at 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way.
Club 50 is located inside the Viceroy Hotel at 485 Brickell Avenue.

A Rum For Your Lifestyle

After three days of sipping rum with experts, mixologists, collectors and people who enjoy a good cocktail at the Rum Renaissance Festival, it’s clear that rum is more than just a drink — it’s a lifestyle.

What exactly makes a rum right for your lifestyle?  That of course depends on your taste.  As UK Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell said during the festival, the best rum is what’s in your glass.  Or in your next glass.

Whether you prefer rum with soda or on the rocks, there’s a rum for you.

Rum is made from fresh sugar cane juice, sugar cane syrup or molasses.  Beyond the raw materials, the taste and quality of rum is affected by the methods of fermentation and distillation, the aging process and in some cases, the blending used to create the final product.

White, silver, clear or crystal rums are aged for a brief time and are often filtered to remove color.  With these rums the taste of alcohol dominates the flavor, making them more suitable for mixing in cocktails.  If you’re looking for this type of rum try Flor de Caña Extra Dry 4 from Nicaragua or 10 Cane from Trinidad.

Gold or pale rums are aged in barrels for several years, which adds color and flavor.  These rums are used in cocktails in which a stronger flavor is desired, or they can be sipped on their own.  Try Botran 12 from Guatemala or Brugal Añejo from the Dominican Republic.

Dark or black rums go through a longer aging process and are more flavorful than gold rums.  Like gold rums they are often used in cocktails and can also be enjoyed on their own.  Try Gosling’s Black Seal from Bermuda or Cruzan Black Strap from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Premium aged rums are what I find the most interesting to drink.  With these rums the unique flavors of the liquor and the skill of the master blender really shine.  Premium aged rums are meant to be sipped, like a cognac or scotch.  Serve them neat or on the rocks.

When looking for an aged rum, keep in mind the number on the label may be misleading.  The number could be the age of the youngest rum in the blend or the oldest, or it could be the average age of the blend.

If you’re new to drinking aged rums, a great place to start is with Atlantico Private Cask from the Dominican Republic.  A blend of 15 to 25 year old artisanal aged rums are aged again in private casks which give the rum added complexity and flavor.  I found this rum very easy to drink.  It has mellow flavors of tropical fruit and caramel without the fiery finish that other rums have.  Atlantico Private Cask tastes great with fresh lime juice or in cocktails.  At around $35 a bottle it’s more affordable than cognac, but not so expensive that you won’t want to use it in mixed drinks.

Another great tasting aged rum is Zacapa Solera 23 from Guatemala.  Zacapa makes their rum with juice from the first pressing of sugar cane.  After distillation, the rum is aged at facilities that are 7,500 feet above sea level.  The cool mountain air reduces the evaporation that occurs during the aging process.  The rum gets additional flavors from being stored in casks that previously held bourbon, sherry or Pedro Ximenez.

Zacapa Solera 23 is a blend of rum aged from 6 to 23 years.  It’s sweet and smooth, with flavors of vanilla and spice.  My husband who is a cognac fan was converted into a rum enthusiast after a few sips.  A bottle costs around $35.  One step up is the elegant and refined Zacapa Centenario XO, a blend of rums that are at least 25 years old.  A bottle costs around $100.

For a slightly more full-bodied rum try Zaya Gran Reserva from Trinidad.  The rum is distilled five times and hand blended with three to five rums, then aged in oak barrels for at least 12 years.  Well-balanced with flavors of dried fruits, the rum has a long and smooth finish with a hint of spice.  A bottle of Zaya Gran Reserva costs around $30.

Sure rum tastes great in mojitos and tropical drinks.  But try an aged rum on its own and you’ll be impressed with its unique and complex flavors.

For more information on rum check out Robert Burr’s Gifted Rums Guide.

Rum Renaissance Kickoff Party

If your only real experience with rum is drinking daiquiris or mojitos, you’ve barely scratched the surface of this spirit.

From light to dark, flavored to spiced, the flavors of rum can vary greatly.  At this weekend’s Rum Renaissance in Miami you’ll have the opportunity to try them all.

Atlantico rum partyLast night the rum celebration kicked off with the Atlantico Rum VIP Party at 8oz Burger Bar.  Atlantico is an aged rum from the Dominican Republic, made by blending small batch aged rums.  The blend is then put through two more aging processes before it is bottled by hand.  Click here for more on Atlantico and my recommendations for aged rums.

8oz’s mouth-watering mini burgers and short rib grilled cheese sandwiches were served with three different rum cocktails.  I usually go for beer when I’m eating burgers, but found the cocktails to be a very tasty alternative.

Atlantico rum partyMy favorite cocktail of the evening had Atlantico Private Cask aged rum with blackberry juice, lemon juice, simple syrup, allspice and a sprig of rosemary.  The bartenders put on a great show, using lighters as they sprinkled the allspice to release more of its flavor.

The rum cocktail was refreshing with just the right amount of sweetness.  It’s what I’d want to drink while sitting by the pool.

The main event of the Rum Renaissance is the Grand Tasting on Saturday at the Shore Club.  You’ll be able to attend seminars and sample rums (as well as Cachaça) from many countries and territories in the Americas and Caribbean.  Tickets are available at the door for $50 (cash only).

For more information visit rumrenaissance.com.

Cool Down with a Caipirinha

Caipirinhas are the perfect summer cocktail.  Part sour, part sweet, caipirinhas are replacing mojitos as the hottest drink in South Florida.

caipirinhaThe caipirinha is the national cocktail of Brazil.  Only recently has it been gaining popularity outside the country.  It’s a fairly simple drink: Cachaça (made in Brazil from fermented sugarcane juice), fresh lime juice and raw sugar.

It’s very easy to make.  I like mine extra sour so I use an entire lime for each drink.  Cut the lime into wedges and put it in a rocks glass with 2 teaspoons of raw sugar.  Muddle the lime and sugar.  Fill the glass with ice and add 1 to 2 shots of Cachaça (I like Leblon Cachaça, available at many liquor stores).

You’ll find caipirinhas at bars all over South Florida, including versions that use other fruit juices like passion fruit or pineapple.  Beware of those who try to pass off caipirinhas made with rum or vodka.  They’re tasty, but it’s just not the same.

My favorite caipirinhas are at the Sunset Lounge at the Mondrian Hotel on South Beach.  Their caipirinhas are made with raw sugar from Hawaii and crushed ice.  If you like a bit of spice, try their Chili Passion Caipirinha, made with sriracha.  Sip one outside by the pool just before sunset for great views of the downtown Miami skyline.

Try a caipirinha and it’s sure to become your new favorite cocktail.  Saúde!