cocktail mixologist Julio Cabrera
Miami Beach

Things are really starting to heat up here in Miami, and we’re not just talking about the weather. Loews Miami Beach has debuted a massive $50 million makeover and also launched Flavor Miami, a program featuring 15 local food and beverage partners – from Panther Coffee and Zak the Baker to several South Florida breweries and Miami Club Rum – whose selections can be found throughout the hotel’s restaurants and lounges.

So when things are this hot, what better way to cool down than with some refreshing, South Beach-style summer cocktails? We spoke with Julio Cabrera, named America’s Most Imaginative Bartender by GQ Magazine and the mastermind mixologist behind Bar Collins‘ craft cocktail list, to find out his top picks at Loews Miami Beach Hotel. Read on for the inside scoop on how to make the perfect summer cocktail.

What makes a great summer cocktail? Can you tell us which spirits or flavor profiles work well together as Miami heats up?

JC: I focused on having a great number of refreshing, summertime drinks on the menu because Miami is hot all year long, and people come here for that. What makes a great summer cocktail is that it should be refreshing, with lots of citrus, and it should be served on ice. In most cases, it should be made with white spirits (like vodka, gin or white rum), and when you combine it with juices, ice and sodas or champagne, it makes a great summer drink.

Are there any cocktails on Bar Collins’ cocktail menu that you think Loews Miami Beach Hotel’s guests should order in the summertime?

JC: There are five different cocktails I recommend this summer, all totally different in flavors and profiles. The Raspberry 75 is topped with champagne or prosecco, is very light, and perfect for summer. That’s the No. 1 selling drink at the bar. The No. 2 is the Flamingo Mojito with watermelon and ginger, which is very refreshing. The hotel asked me to come up with a signature mojito, and this one is really good. Next, the Cucumber Ron Collins isn’t fruity because it’s made with cucumbers, but it’s refreshing because it’s topped with soda water. Then, there’s the Miami Vice Mule with ginger beer and herbal flavors (Cuban oregano syrup), served over crushed ice. And the Fifty Pounds & Tonic (gin, St. Germain, lemon juice, grapefruit bitters, tonic water) is based off a classic Gin & Tonic, which is very popular around the world, especially in Spain.

What’s your personal favorite cocktail on the menu? Is there one you’re really proud of?

JC: I don’t have favorites because it depends on the time of day and your mood. All the cocktails are different, but all the cocktails have a purpose. Sometimes I feel like I would love to have a Zacapa Old Fashioned (Zacapa 23 rum, sugar, chocolate bitters, and grapefruit peel) – I’m very proud of that cocktail. Also, the Churchill (brandy, port wine, Benedictine liqueur, flamed orange peel) is an after-dinner cocktail, mostly for cigar lovers. It’s totally original. I created it specially for Loews, and it involves some steps where you have to burn wood and smoke the glass and flamed orange peel – it’s a lot of steps. I’m very proud of those cocktails, but every drink has a purpose and I like them all.

Why do you think it’s important to also offer local craft beers at a cocktail bar? What are your favorite local breweries?

JC: Wynwood Brewery is one that I like a lot, as well as Tank Brewing Co. and J. Wakefield, but there are a lot of breweries right now in Florida that are doing a really good job with craft beers. When you have a good beverage program in a hotel or bar, you don’t have to think just about cocktails. You have to think about everything else that sells at the bar. Wine and beer are also a very important part of the program. Having great craft beers, mostly local, is very important for bars, and some of the best breweries in Miami do flavors that are typical to Miami, like cafecito beer (Cuban coffee), or pastelito de guayaba beer (guava pastry). I’m not a beer drinker, but I know the local brewers, and they invite me to go to their breweries, where they ferment. I watch the process, and I taste the beer right there. Once I go there and know what they have, I have an idea of what to order at the bar and which ones fit our beverage program.

Note: Interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. 

 

Summer Cocktail Recipes

Want to make your own Miami-style mojito or raspberry-flavored fizzy drink at home? Check out these recipes for Bar Collins’ most popular sellers.

Flamingo Mojito
Flamingo Mojito Loews Miami

Ingredients

– 8–10 mint leaves
– ¾ oz. ginger syrup
– ¾ lime juice
– 2 oz. Miami Club Rum
– 2 oz. fresh watermelon juice

In a glass, gently muddle the first three ingredients. Then add in the rum, watermelon juice and ice. Stir, and garnish cocktail with an extra mint sprig.

Raspberry 75

Raspberry 75 Cocktail

Ingredients

– 3 raspberries
– 1 oz. vodka
– ½ oz. lemon juice
– ½ oz. simple syrup
– 3 oz. prosecco

Add the ingredients into a shaker with ice, not including the prosecco. Shake and serve strained into a flute. Top with prosecco, and garnish cocktail with a lemon spiral.

See Bar Collins’ complete cocktail menu and bar bites selection here.

Lyssa