Spotlight on: Sweet Liberty Miami
The buzzy nightclubs and bars of South Beach are central to the Miami scene, but they’re best enjoyed in the right doses.  Everyone loves chocolate cake, but no one wants to eat chocolate cake every meal.  Sweet Liberty is where you can eat your vegetables, though you may find them fried, stacked with Boursin cheese, and served with tomato marmalade – as is the case with the crunchy green tomato salad
Situated in City Center just below Mid-Beach, Sweet Liberty serves up complex cocktails against a fun, casual backdrop.  When asked to characterize the dress code, the hostess laughed and said “just keep your shirt on.”  Unlike other Miami Beach spots, you won’t get thrown out by the collar for not having one.
On weeknights, this is a spot where friends can sit down and converse at a volume that won’t leave you feeling like you chugged a gallon of gravel the next day.  When your party is done griping about the election or Miami’s exorbitant parking fees, you can blow off steam at the shuffleboard table.  That southwest shuffleboard corner seems to share residency with one of the bar’s speakers, but the volume is still low enough for you to talk shit to your friends in between songs.  It’s a hell of a playlist, too.  On a recent visit, there were multiple selections from Rolling Stones album “Exile on Main St.” and David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”.
Sweet Liberty’s cocktail list can be overwhelming for a first-timer and perhaps a little foreign to a novice.  If you need help deciding between drinks featuring “Caña Brava 7 year,” “Cocchi Americano,” or “El Tesoro reposado” – or just want to know exactly what those are, the bartenders are happy to break it all down.  And, if none of the 17 house cocktails or 13 “classics” scratch your itch, they can make you a drink based on whatever you’re feeling at the moment.  Bartender’s choice could be a fun way to go here, but you’ll probably want to work your way through the expansive menu first.
For neophytes, Sweet Liberty has a handful of recommended cocktails.  One of those cocktails is the “Velvet Sideswipe” which pairs smoky Mezcal Vida with spiced agave, lemon, pineapple, and Punt e mes, an Italian vermouth.  Luckily for Hooch subscribers, this is one of the gastropub’s three featured cocktails and a solid place to start.
There are a litany of options from there.  If spicy cocktails are your game, you’ll want to try the “Forest Fire,” a combination of Old Forester, Fernet, cacao, and double heat courtesy of ancho peppers and a firewater tincture.  Ancho and chocolate have long been a killer combo for an excellent bowl of chili and they also pair well in a stemmed glass.  There are waves of flavor here – first the decidedly minty Fernet, then the medium-Scoville spice, then the dark chocolate on the backswing.  It’s piquant and it’s a good introduction to Fernet for the uninitiated.
The late night food scene in Miami is underwhelming overall, but here you can score a cheeseburger, a kale caesar salad, and the sexiest dish of 2016 – tuna poké.  Doing a (late) dinner here is advised, not just because potent offerings like these require a not-empty stomach, but because it’s creative gastropub fare done properly.
Guest Post by Zach Links.
Editor and lead writer at, MLB Trade Rumors and @HoopsRumors.
Guest food and cocktail blog writer.
Follow him on Twitter @ZachLinks Instagram @FatZachLinks