Red, The Steakhouse, located in Miami, Florida, is far more than a meat and potatoes establishment to its far-flung clientele of well-heeled foodies — it’s a temple of chef-driven cuisine. And since opening in 2009, the Miami Beach outpost of this Cleveland original has garnered not only high ratings for its food from critics and patrons alike, but also a devoted fan base for its fresh, creative cocktails.
At Red, a steak is not just a steak. And a cocktail is not just a cocktail. What makes the drinks at Red Miami special is fresh ingredients from scratch, always. “Our chef-driven, fresh food philosophy informs the drinks as well as the food,” says Chef Partner Peter Vauthy. “Cocktail bases are made with the freshest fruit and purees, and with local citrus and other local fruits, not products from a jar.”
Red introduces new mixed drinks seasonally — after a tasting process that garners feedback from management and staff and a two-week “grace period” to hear feedback from guests — then makes a final determination of whether the cocktail is a good fit on the menu. “We start with the general ‘rules’ of the cocktail — what mixes well together, what fruits are in season, and what herbs and fresh ingredients can be added.” says restaurant manager Jacquelyn Burch. “Then we often tweak the recipes if our guests suggest something should be sweeter, dryer, fruitier, etc. The cocktail menu is diverse so that everyone can find a base spirit they enjoy and then choose a refreshing, sweet, or classic offering.”
Indeed, my libation of choice from the cocktail list, the So-Fi* Caipirinha, was a bracing, creative twist on the sometimes cloying recipe: sweetened just enough with fresh agave, mellowed with watermelon puree, and brightened with fresh lime juice. It went down smoothly, but I also tasted each ingredient. I especially appreciated the agave alternative to refined sugar. Typically mixed with fresh lemon and lime juice, agave is the go-to sweetener for all of the restaurant’s cocktails and mocktails.
My drink was one of ten cocktail rollouts that harkened back to traditional favorites but with Red Miami flair. “It’s our goal to bring out the natural flavors of the drinks, with a twist, and give our guests a new way to love a classic cocktail,” says Burch.
*South of Fifth, a trendy Miami neighborhood
First published August 2015