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Miami Beach's Fontainebleau Resort Has a Secret Cocktail Menu
Sinatra would have approved of these
The Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel is one of the city’s most easily recognized names.
When it premiered in 1954, it was the grandest hotel on the beach, with architect Morris Lapidus designing a grand lobby complete with a giant staircase leading to nowhere — long before Instagram was even a thought.
The oceanfront hotel was a hit with celebrities and tourists alike. Jackie Gleason filmed his variety show on the premises. Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack performed there regularly. Sinatra also filmed several movies at the Fontainebleau and was a frequent guest. Other major films shot at the hotel include Goldfinger, Scarface, and the Bodyguard.
The hotel underwent a major renovation in the 2000s, reopening in the fall of 2008. Currently, the property boasts several bars and restaurants (and a nightclub) — each with its own cocktail menu. What many people don’t know, is that each outlet offers its own secret menu items — including cocktails.
What many people don’t know, is that each outlet offers its own secret menu items — including cocktails.
Valentin Mihail, director of food and beverage for the Fontainebleau, got the idea for a secret cocktail menu from his time working in Las Vegas. “I was working at the MGM and I would go to the Cosmopolitan for its secret cocktails.”
The program was so popular in Las Vegas that he wanted to figure out how to bring secret cocktails to Miami Beach. He challenged the bartenders from each of the Fontainebleau’s restaurants to create a secret cocktail that would remain off the menu — accessible only through word of mouth. Mihail says the cocktail program served a dual purpose. “We challenge the food and beverage team, and created an interesting experience for guests.”
Mihail then asked each restaurant staff to also create a unique bite to be paired with the cocktail, each one priced at $32, not including tax and tip.
When asked to justify the price tag of each drink, Mihail said that each cocktail is larger than normal and uses select spirits. He points out that one cocktail uses Macallan 12 Scotch, while another is made with Clase Azul tequila. Each spirit would cost about $30 for a few fingers neat.
The cocktails are also experiential. “Each outlet had a different vision. At Hakassan [at the Fontainebleau]. the drink is smoked. At another, the drink changes color,” says the hospitality executive. “Each cocktail was created with a ‘wow’ effect.,” he add. “Eac drink is like a mini-story that's meant to give away a little of what the restaurant is all about.”
The poolside Glow Bar, for instance, offers the Tropical Paradise, a play on a margarita, served inside a pineapple, topped with cayenne pepper.
The hotel lobby bar, the Bleau Bar, serves the Electric Dust, made with Azul Plata, passion fruit, strawberry purée, hellfire habanero shrub, and topped with a Szechuan button rim to tingle your lips.
At La Côte restaurant, the Butterfly Garden is made with color-changing butterfly pea tea, Belvedere vodka, blackberry, lemongrass, rosemary, and citrus; paired with spiced chickpeas.
At Arkadia Grill, find the Apple of Envy, made with Angel’s Envy bourbon, a hint of apple, and brown sugar, served with a dry-aged steak burger slider.
The hotel’s classic steakhouse, StripSteak by Michael Mina, channels Old Blue Eyes with the Their Way cocktail, made with Grey Goose vodka, passion fruit, and spices. The cocktail is paired with a chilled shrimp.
At Scarpetta, find an amaretto and bourbon Godfather, paired with a ravioli.
At Hakassan, enjoy a smoked Old-Fashioned made with Macallan 12. The cocktail is presented on a wood slab with crispy rice shrimp.
Mihail says that the secret cocktails are designed to bring back classic hospitality that he thinks was lost during the pandemic. “It’s not only about having a cocktail. It’s a touch of vibrant glamour.”