Few things are as pleasurable as experiencing a fine drink, and whereas craft cocktails, champagne, and wine have certainly gained stature and attention, it is a visit to some of the old classic spirits in their finest form that has Upscale Living Magazine enchanted these days.  South Florida, always burgeoning with nightlife and all-things-fine, knows the art of celebration well.  So, it is no surprise that it offers these three highly unique and indulgently exceptional spots to quench your thirst for a luxurious drink.

Council Oak Macallan Cockail

Council Oak’s One Ounce Club

Imagine experiencing the world’s rarest and most expensive spirits one ounce at a time. That is precisely what The One Ounce Club, launched in the summer of 2017, invites its guests to do. Unlike most elite clubs, there’s no membership requirement for joining, just an interest in tasting high-end beverages, and, with the most expensive pour, the Hardy Perfection Cognac, priced at $888 an ounce, a willingness to spend big bucks to do so.

Council Oak Treize Louis XIII Cocktail with Glitter

Council Oak Treize Louis XIII Cocktail with Glitter

The club can be found inside The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood Florida’s high-end steakhouse, Council Oak. This upscale eatery, named after the sacred oak tree Seminole leaders would meet at to discuss tribal business, houses bottles where, clearly, money is no object. Think Hennessy Paradis Imperial at $9,000 and Johnnie Walker & Sons “Odyssey” at a mere $3,000.  Council Oak’s collection includes some of the rarest bottles as well, like one of only 710 bottles of the limited edition Pappy Van Winkle, which can be enjoyed by the ounce for $495. Pappy Van Winkle 25 is the oldest and most expensive bourbon bottle produced by the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery.

Council Oak Treize Louis XIII Beverage Cocktail Cart with Juan Horta

Council Oak Sommelier, Juan Horta

Featured spirits include exclusive offerings and special editions, such as Pappy Van Winkle 25, Johnnie Walker Blue Label “Year of the Monkey,” Glenmorangie Pride 1978, Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Century, Hennessy Paradis Imperial Cognac, Rémy Martin Louis XIII Cognac, and Gran Patrón Burdeos, among others. Prices range from $23 to $720 per ounce.

For those that favor mixed drinks, the program includes two premium cocktails using the exclusive libations. French for “13”, the Treize ($195) features Remy Martin Louis XIII Cognac, Ciroc X “Ten” Vodka, Grand Marnier and Eiswein. The ingredients are mixed, stirred and poured tableside and topped with an elegant 24k gold flake garnish. Traditionalists might opt for the Smoked Rare Manhattan ($95), a spin on the favorite cocktail which features Macallan Rare Cask Single Malt Whisky, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth, orange bitters, sugar cube, and smoked cinnamon sticks.

Lona Paloma Brava Cocktail

Photo courtesy of Alissa Dragun

Lona by Pablo Salas

Celebrated Mexican chef Pablo Salas’ chic new Mexican eatery officially opened its doors to the public on January 2, 2018, in Fort Lauderdale. Located on a stunning strip of beachfront real estate, Lona offers Salas’ eclectic, soulful Mexican cuisine in a chic, yet funky environment.  Lona, which translates to “canvas” from Spanish, aims to hit high notes with tequila connoisseurs as well, offering an expansive selection of high-end tequilas and mezcals. The restaurant currently has 286 bottles, with the goal of offering over 350 to choose from and even has private tequila lockers for diehards to rent and store their own prized bottles for consumption on-site.

Lona Breathing Lighting cocktail

Photo courtesy of Alissa Dragun

The Mexican-origin spirit is made from the blue agave, which, when its leaves are sheared, leave a massive pit referred to in Spanish as the “piña,” or pineapple. The agave juice that will be fermented and distilled into tequila comes from heating and crushing the piña. Blanco is the clear tequila as it comes off the still, though it can spend up to two months aging in oak barrels. Golden reposado is aged from two months to a year and dark añejo ages from between one and three years. Extra-añejo is any tequila aged more than three years, which results in qualities similar to those of long-aged rums and brandies. Unlike aged whiskeys or wines, tequilas that are older aren’t necessarily better, it’s more a matter of personal preference, however, Blancos are best enjoyed neat or as luxurious mixers, reposados shine over ice, and añejos come alive when sipped in brandy snifters amongst good friends. Mezcal (a type of agave liquor, made from a different agave plant) is gaining overdue notice and patrons of Lona will be able to enjoy both tequila and mezcal premium spirit flights.

Lona Cafe Cabeza cocktail

Photo courtesy of Alissa Dragun

Overseeing the bar program is Dushan Zaric, founder of the beloved, trendsetting cocktail bar Employees Only. Listed as one of Forbes Top 50 Tastemakers, he is a master of the art and science of craft cocktails and will ensure Lona’s cocktail program is as progressive, provocative and delicious as its menu. Innovative offerings include the spicy Breathing Lightning – Ilegal Mezcal Joven, pineapple, lime, honey-pineapple syrup and hellfire bitters; the Añejo Especial – El Tesoro Añejo, lime, agave, Lona absinthe bitters and egg white; and the Mexico City Swizzle – Del Maguey Mezcal Vida, Amontillado Sherry, Falernum, lime and ginger.

StripSteak Japanese Ceremony cocktail

Photo courtesy of Fontainebleau Miami Beach

StripSteak by Michael Mina at Fontainebleau Miami Beach

StripSteak by Michael Mina offers a wholly unique Japanese Whisky Ceremony. This exclusive tableside presentation features rare spirits from Japan’s most storied distilleries. A custom-designed whiskey cart is showcased table side.  Some of the most popular signature dishes, including the decadent Maine Lobster Pot Pie and Ahi Tuna Tartare, are served tableside to the guest’s delight every day. The whiskey cart is a way to expand upon table side interaction with beverage service.  Guests will learn about Japanese Whisky, and then be able to select a whiskey from either the Nikka or Suntory family of Japanese whiskeys to use in their personal ceremony.  The whiskey ceremony, while not a cocktail, will use an array of ingredients to enhance the natural tasting notes of the whiskey. Nikka Pure Malt ($25) and Yamazaki 12 Year ($45).

StripSteak Japanese Ceremony cocktail

Photo courtesy of Fontainebleau Miami Beach

A sensory beverage experience; the process begins when the glass is smoke-filled with torched cloves and cinnamon. These baking spices accentuate flavors often found from the aging of whiskey in wooden oak casks. Syrup lightly infused with Tahitian vanilla beans and kumquat fruits are then slowly drizzled into the glass.  Then the star of the show, the Japanese whiskey, is chilled over a locally sourced starfruit studded block ice-cube.  A quick stir and final flick of the wrist incorporate and harmonize all of the ingredients.  After a taste, the nearly 100 years of Japanese whiskey craftsmanship is realized and appreciated.  Kanpai!