Food & Drink | June 24, 2022 6:30 am

5 Late-Night Drink Recs, From One of Miami’s Top Chefs 

Leave it to a chef — and lifelong Miami resident — to know exactly where to go for an after-hours tipple

Chef Raymond Li
Chef Raymond Li
David Salazar

Nobody knows where to get a late-night drink better than a chef — so for some exceptionally well-curated picks, we reached out to Miami native Raymond Li, whose resume includes stints at Matador Room at The Miami Beach EDITION and the two-Michelin star restaurant L’Atelier de Jöel Robuchon in Paris.

Li’s current venture is KAORI, one of Brickell’s newest kids on the block. Set inside the ground floor of SLS LUX in Brickell, KAORI is part of Brickell’s new wave of restaurants, an intimate two-story space with a menu of Mediterranean-Asian dishes like Iberico pork belly bao buns, smokey Chinese eggplant and for dessert, a koji key lime tart. The restaurant has two distinct dining areas — a downstairs bar that’s great for happy hours and an elegant dining area upstairs that overlooks Brickell City Center. 

When we sat down with Chef Li to go over his nightlife selections, we also hit him up for his favorite menu items at KAORI — which turned out to be the Normandy Sour and the bluefin tuna. Below, his after-hours Miami picks — from someone who’s lived through many iterations of Miami and knows where to find the good stuff. 

La Natural 

Located in Little River, La Natural is an indoor/outdoor restaurant that serves up wood-fired sourdough pizzas and natural wines. The new restaurant opened during the pandemic and has already attracted a pretty loyal following. 

“If I’m looking for natural wine, I head to La Natural,” Li says. “This is one of my favorite new restaurants, and of all the pizza places I’ve been to, it has some of the best pizza in the United States.”

Tropezón Miami 

Tropezón Miami is a charming new addition to Española Way on South Beach, and the restaurant is fashionable without being pretentious. The dining area is decked out with vintage movie posters and hanging potted plants, and the bar has one of the most inventive cocktail menus in Miami. 

“Tropezón Miami is fairly new and the chef, Derek Torme, is actually a childhood friend of mine —  he created the cocktail program, and they have over 20 different kinds of infused gins in house,” Li says. 

Fiola Miami 

Fiola Miami is a Michelin-starred restaurant that offers regional Italian dishes and has a 900-bottle wine cellar. The white tablecloth restaurant offers handmade pasta and meat and seafood dishes cooked in a wood-fired oven or grilled over an open flame. 

“I love going to Fiola Miami in Coral Gables for a nice sparkling wine, and the atmosphere is really nice here too,” Li says. “It’s a great place for a glass of wine and good conversation. It’s easy to lose track of time here.” 

Margo Natural Wine Bar 

Brickell has been called the Manhattan of Miami, so it’s only right that a few small, perfect-for after-work bars have popped up right downtown. Created by the team behind the hipster haven Broken Shaker, Margo Natural Wine Bar is named after Ernest Hemingway’s daughter, and it’s located inside the historic Ingram building. 

“The interior of Margo Natural Wine Bar is really interesting, and they have a great music selection. It’s a really cool place to hang out and it’s right in downtown Brickell,” Li says.  “One of my favorite drinks is this sparkling Italian red wine called Lambrusco. Not a lot of places have Lambrusco and I was intrigued when I went and they had that on the menu.”