At 10 p.m. on Friday night, the second night of the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, the Miami Beach Botanical Garden was transformed into a veritable wonderland of cocktails, as the outdoor Garden to Glass cocktail party, the first entirely cocktail-driven event in the festival’s 12-year history, brought some of the country’s leading mixologists together to create cocktails inspired by, and using ingredients from, the garden.
“The philosophy behind this event was to bring some of our best friends together, who also happen to be great mixologists, and to create a true garden experience,” Elad Zvi, who together with Gabriel Orta runs The Bar Lab, a beverage management company that helped to curate the event, told us. “We’ve brought in bartenders from Milwaukee, San Francisco, Oakland, and New York, and elements from all our cocktails come from the garden itself.”
Edible flowers were involved in many of the cocktails, and all participating mixologists, who had cocktail bars set up throughout the grounds, were encouraged to incorporate natural elements. The Bar Lab’s main bar, for example, served a punch that incorporated fresh rosemary and sage and another that had fresh basil, a play on the traditional Collins with fresh cantaloupe and lemon verbena, and a rum Old Fashioned with sassafras.
“We started planning this cocktail menu before the summer, and planted flowers with enough time to pick them in order to use them in these cocktails,” Bar Lab co-owner Gabriel Orta added. “We worked with local farmers to source our ingredients, and are really happy with the results.”
And while this event wasn’t food-centric, it was still aligned with the festival’s overriding philosophy.
“This festival is all about the product,” Orta said. People come from all over the world to show their talent, and to eat food and drink cocktails made by skilled people. And at the end of the day, it’s all about high quality product made by really talented people.”