By Mitchell Nover
Miami is severely lacking in rooftop bars. What NYC manages to master with only 3-ish months of warm weather, we somehow neglect to take advantage of with our endless summers and gorgeous views. I’m sure there are numerous reasons for this, but the biggest is most likely Miami’s non-existent downtown scene. Rooftop bars (at least in my mind) are most often associated with bustling metropolises and business people riding elevators to the top of a skyscraper for an afterwork cocktail among the clouds – quite the opposite of the pool and beachside hotel bars of which there are a plethora on Miami Beach. Well, in hopes of what will become a growing trend (and a revitalization of Downtown Miami), the Pubbelly Boys have taken their talents from South Beach with the creation of the Pawn Broker at the Langford Hotel.
Pawn Broker combines a classic rooftop bar feel with a hint of a speakeasy vibe. The outdoor patio is bright and spacious with beautiful views of Downtown and Brickell that lights up as the sun goes down. It’s the perfect setting to kickstart a night, whether you just need a quick drink before heading home or are meeting up with a group of friends for happy hour.
I started my night at outside with a couple of cocktails and bar bites. The menu is a joint venture between Derek Stilmann (drinks) and José Mendin (bites) that combines Golden Age-inspired cocktails with the great tastes of Pubbelly that we’ve all come to know and love.
My first drink was the Giggle Water. It’s kind of a weird starter drink, but Instagram has been inundated with photos of these cocktails in a bathtub, so I had to give it a try. This interesting take on a gin and tonic mixes gin, champagne syrup, tonic, and lavender foam. My key word for this drink is “interesting” and I’m not really sure if it’s my cup of tea. Or should I say tub?
More up my alley was the Furiosa: a blend of mezcal, desert syrup, passion fruit, lime, aloe, and a chorizo salt rim. Smokey and fruity, with just the right amount of spice, this drink is perfect for the outdoor rooftop setting and matches perfectly with the reddish, yellowish sunset hues.
To accompany my outdoor drinks, I tried the Huitlacoche Quesadillas and the Arancini. Nothing crazy or super different here, but these two dishes are good, standard bar fare that help to set the tone for the rest of the night. And they bring just enough to soak up the alcohol from the starter drinks, allowing you to order one or two more.
After two drinks and two bites, you might be ready to move on. The Pubbelly team also manages Pubbelly Station at the Langford, where you can mosey on down to if you were just in for a pre-dinner stop. As for me, I continued my night inside, where the Pawn Broker ambiance turned much darker, brooding, and romantic, setting the scene for a few more Prohibition era-inspired cocktails and some heavier and more creative snacks.
Once indoors, I opted for the Love Potion No. 10 – a pisco sour with pisco, preserved tropical syrup, honey, lemon, Angostura bitters, and egg white. Once again, a pretty standard take on a classic cocktail, but the tropical syrup and honey punch it up just enough to make it shine.
My fourth, and final drink, turned out to be a true showstopper. The Corn Pop Fizz incorporates one of my favorite breakfast cereals from childhood, Corn Pops in the form of a syrup, with moonshine, lemon bitters, citrus, egg white, and a few pops for garnish. The sweetness of the cereal syrup balances really nicely with the sharpness of the moonshine and the lemon bitters add just enough of a citrusy twist to round things out. “Gotta have my Pops,” indeed!
For a few additional bites, I went with the bright and refreshing Yellowtail Taquitos (with red onion, ginger-sesame-soy sauce, shredded lettuce, radish, and corn miso) and the decadent and delicious Brioche Grilled Cheese (with short rib, tallegio cheese, and caramelized onion). These two options, while wildly different, are modern bar food at its best.
Mitch’s take: The creative combination of cocktails, food, and ambiance work magically together to bring Pawn Broker to life. It’s comfortable, classy, and cool, giving a touch of originality to, and, quite literally, “raising the roof” of the Downtown cocktail scene – or the Downtown scene, in general.
Standout dishes: Classic childhood memories all grown up: the Corn Pop Fizz and the Brioche Grilled Cheese offer up a new, adult take on the after school snack.