The term “Bar Hopping” is very well known in Miami but, what about cocktailing? Last week, I joined a group of bloggers to enjoy classic cocktails with a side of Art Deco history. As I went back in time to the early 20’s and 30’s, while sipping on my mojito, I was able to learn the history and development of Miami Beach. Upon our afternoon stroll down Ocean Drive, we were introduced to the Art Deco architecture, interior design and a little bit of Alcohol 101. Christine, the owner of the tour, made our back to the future trip enjoyable and we were able to interact with each other as the tour was an intimate group of 7 people. The tour consisted of four cocktails and after the third one I was already feeling the alcohol effects. Discover below my favorite drink from the tour and the fascinating history of Miami Beach.
Z Ocean HotelThe meet up point of the tour was at Z Ocean Hotel where we started cocktailing with a front porch lemonade drink. This cocktail was created by Pat, one of the bartenders at this place. The cocktail consists of a southern flavor and is a great combination to battle the humid and warm weather of the beach. One of the ingredients of this cocktail is Bourbon, but the other ones you would have to guess when you attend the tour. This hotel is located at the end of Ocean Drive and offers a quite space and environment to mingle with your friends.
Our next stop was at Winter Haven hotel, which illustrates nautical elements from the Art Deco era. Here we enjoyed the best mojito ever. It was made to perfection with the right amount of lime to give it that extra sour taste. The interior maintains the original flooring, windows and double railing with glass globes that embodies a ship theme.
During our cocktailing break, we walked down few blocks to learn more about Art Deco History. The Versace Mansion, above, is the most iconic building in Miami Beach. Many fashion events have been conducted in this classic venue, including Mara Hoffman. I was surprised to learn that the previous house of Gianna Versace is an exact replica of the house built in my homeland Santo Domingo in 1510 by Diego Columbus, son of Christopher Columbus.
Art Deco, means decorative art and it was created in Paris in a period where art was influenced by the new ways of transportation, technology, rail roads and the luxury life of the 1920’s and 30’s.
We visited The Tides, the second luxury hotel on Ocean Drive. The interior is covered by gold elements, persian travertine and The Coral Bar with 22k antique gold leaf wallpaper.The Congress Hotel is an example of an Art Deco style, which maintains some of its original colors from the 1930’s being black and white. The letter font can be compared with Pac Man, the video game. This hotel features the original Art Deco elements, such as classic rule of symmetry, rule of three, frozen fountain, Mayan symbolism, and Ziggurat.
Next, we were surprised with treats and sugar, from Sugar Factory. This helped in raising our sugar levels up to keep cocktailing.
Our next adventure, lead to Clevelander hotel where we tasted a classic Pina Colada. We were guided to the VIP rooftop of the hotel to enjoy the majestic views of Miami Beach. This hotel is the main attraction for party goers and late night tourists on Ocean Drive. During the 70’s this hotel was the spot for the elderly, where they used to sit in aluminum chairs in the sidewalk, known as “God’s Waiting Room”.
Essex HouseThe tour concluded at Essex House, a Henry Hohauser masterpiece considered the most luxurious hotel in 1938. The lobby also combines Art Deco elements, featuring octagonal portholes, terrazzo, scagliola (faux marble wall paneling), ziggurat door frames (zig zag), and a fireplace with an original painting by Earl Le Pan. As we savored our last drink, the SpeakEasy, we were challenged to guess the ingredients of this japanese inspired cocktail. The only ingredient I was able to guess was Vodka. Sake was the ingredient none of us could guess. This drink was definitely my favorite and a great way to end a tour.
South Beach is so rich in culture and history, that we tend to ignore by all the partying going on. The tour covers so much information from the early years of Ocean Drive. South Beach continues to be a main attraction for tourists and drink enthusiasts. If you are looking to celebrate your next bachelor or bachelorette, do not hesitate to book this tour. Is the perfect way to start your night. To inquire about their rates and additional information please check their Instagram or Facebook page.
Thank you Christine for an enjoyable afternoon!
Trivia Question: Who was Betsy Ross? (Refer to first picture)