At Ace Bartending's 40-foot bar, ice clinks against glasses and prospective mixologists chatter during hands-on courses. Instructors wax informational about the history and production of liquor before outlining state and municipal legal requirements for serving alcohol or distributing liquor to horses. As students progress, they migrate to eight functional bartending stations that feature working carbon dioxide lines, and lessons feed hungry brains tidbits of information on the use of glassware and garnishes to craft a beverage with fitting aesthetic appeal. The curriculum bounds across a bubbling, colorful rainbow of 200 different drinks and recipes.
In addition to hands-on demonstrations and role-playing exercises, courses hand down lessons on how to land a job as a bartender and give tips for job interviews. The classroom's walls, like those of a real bar, are crowded with colorful bottles, lit by crackling neon beer signs, and held together by flyers for bands seeking bassists.
Though it’s a national brand with locations sprinkled across 14 states, Chevys Fresh Mex doesn’t succumb to shortcuts at any of its restaurants. The expert chefs at each eatery gather together fresh ingredients to prepare the entire menu from scratch, whether they’re infusing chicken enchiladas with chipotles or simmering fragrant cauldrons of their homemade tortilla soup. Even though this hands-on approach harkens back to the foundations of Mexican culinary traditions, chefs also give each dish a contemporary twist—tacos meet flavorful drizzles of chipotle aioli, slow-roasted carnitas mingle with fresh oranges and lemons alongside fajita platters. Meanwhile, bartenders engage in serious agave innovation with top-shelf margaritas in flavors such as prickly pear and spicy mango.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, The Globe's CubaLibre Block Party electrifies the streets with Cuban flair as attendees savor creative cocktails, exotic street food, hand-rolled cigars, and plenty of dancing. From the main stage of the festival, Cuban-born, Miami-raised trio Los 3 de la Habana headlines, playing music for the crowds. The band plays rousing tunes such as the sweeping power ballad “Donde esta el Amor” and the thumping “No te pases de la Raya.” Edwin Bonilla y Su Son will also perform to create more traditional, though no less danceable, melodies. Elsewhere, partiers can take in a salsa lesson and demo, or watch a special tribute to Cuban piano legend Bebo Valdes.
At Open Stage Club, visual and auditory delights share the bill with gustation and olfaction to create an extrasensory dining experience. At first glance, it's a restaurant and bar, with a menu loaded with seafood and steak house-worthy entrees, and a wine selection that seems plucked from a sommelier's dreams. But the star attraction of the club is the talent that blossoms upon its performance stage. Equipped with a professional sound and lighting system and featuring a house band for backup, the open stage draws burgeoning singers, dancers, comedians, and mimes into the spotlight to chase their muses as audiences offer encouragement and friendly critiques.
A salsa-dancing hotspot by night and a palate-pleasing eatery by day, Mango Martini’s seasoned chefs churn out a well-rounded menu of breakfast and lunch specialties as bartenders concoct accompanying brews. Palates preferring the yolky flavors of daybreak eats can time travel to prenoon hours with eggs benedict or sausages tucked into pancake blankets. Cuban sandwiches, mac ‘n’ cheese, and salmon with garlic mashed potatoes conquer guests' cravings for savory noontime feasts. As entrees slowly disappear, unlimited mimosas sate unquenchable thirst with nips of bubbly champagne and tangy orange juice that tango atop taste buds or mambo down guests' bibs.
The breadth of the Atlantic Ocean doesn't impact the reach of Alfredo Patino. As the chef and owner of Bin No. 18, the Miami-based chef draws inspiration from the casual cuisine of European bistros while using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients and contemporary technique to lend a bit of New World flair to the ever-changing menus. French, Italian, and Latin American flavors appear throughout Chef Patino's cuisine, adding a global scope to the regionally rooted dishes.
Shareable platters of imported European cheeses and cured meats are served alongside Latin staples, including octopus salad, as well as classic Italian entrees made with homemade pastas. But recreating time-honored classics isn't the only thing that Chef Patino does. He also demonstrates a willingness to experiment by fusing New and Old World influences. This culinary whimsy is evident in the kitchen's modern interpretation of a Cuban sandwich—complete with slow-roasted pork, brie, and fig sauce—which earned a spot on Food & Wine magazine's list of the Best Sandwiches in the U.S.
And much like the European bistros that originally inspired Chef Patino, Bin No. 18 features an extensive wine list. Like his menu, the wine list takes a global approach by including bottles from Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Hungary, Greece, and Austria, as well as Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa, Washington State, California, and Oregon. This variety of options ensures that numerous pairing options are available for diners looking to enjoy a glass with their meal or collection of small plates. CBS Miami was also impressed by the selection, placing Bin No. 18 on its 2011 list of the Best Wine Bars In South Florida.
The Old World inspiration shines through a bit more clearly in the restaurant's décor, which skews more toward a rustic, yet refined ambiance as opposed to a nouveau vibe. Wooden wine barrels sit beside tables with avocado-green chairs, occasionally doubling as small side tables. At the same time, the collection of crystal chandeliers dangling from the ceiling adds a bit of classical elegance to the space.