Relaxing in the courtyard of the Freehand Miami was a surprising experience for me. I try never to be prejudiced about a place I am visiting, but I have to say that I had a very set notion of what hotels and bars would be like in Miami and the Freehand shifted that for me. It's neither a mega resort nor a club with weekend revelers spilling their drinks (and out of their dresses!). It is old-school Miami -- a chic, relaxed vision of what the city was. It is the whole look and feel, the rambling tropical plants, the cool deco building, the cute people lounging around on salvaged furniture and most crucial, the fruity-yet-potent drinks.
I met Roy Alpert, a man about Miami and the director of the Freehand, in the courtyard and we hit it off straight away. While he recently went into hospitality, his background is firmly rooted in nightlife, and he was excited to show me another side of Miami -- his Miami. We hung out in the Freehand courtyard, of course, but he also took me to the Soho House for a bit of contrast. It's Bohemian chilled-out as opposed to the glitz of Collins Avenue. In truth, both were fun and provided good insight into the great options available after sunset in Miami.
Roy seems to have that special ability of knowing how to make the right kind of party happen, pulling the right levers, and making sure everyone is happy and comfortable with a great drink in hand. It is clearly why he got the Bar Lab guys (the great, fun Elad Zvi and Gabriel Orta) to pop up at the Freehand and create the Broken Shaker. It was by far my favorite bar in the city (believe me, I suffered in research). My memory is hazy, but the nightly punch at Broken Shaker is served in a giant silver bowl and has giant hunks of tropical fruits and orchids floating in the potent mix. It was the wildest, most colorful and definitely most intoxicating drink I have had all year. Pure Miami.
Roy suggests you visit RADIO, Rec Room at the Gale, Le Sandwicherie, Las Olas Cafe, David's Cafe, Jugo Fresh, The Broken Shaker and Freehand.