When Rhythm & Vine attached a hashtag to its laid-back philosophy, it wasn’t just borrowing a marketing page from the South Florida playbook of Jimmy Buffett. The Fort Lauderdale-based indoor/outdoor venue wanted to establish an identity separate from the urban bars and restaurants on Las Olas—an ego-free neighborhood hang where young professionals could loosen their ties, kick off their heels and “#justchill.”
More than two years after its launch, the dedicated regulars who frequent the corner lot on Northeast Fifth Terrace have become guardians of that vibe, giving Rhythm & Vine the kind of hip street cred that some bars spend forever trying to cultivate.
“It’s humbling to see how it’s [evolved], and part of that is because there is no pretension here, no judgment,” says general manager Bobby Velez, who left a job running the lobby bar at The Fontainebleau because the backyard ambience at R&V was more of his “jam.”
Velez and a staff of roughly 20 add to that jam with touches both obvious and subtle. To complement the aesthetic inside—a bar forged out of repurposed shipping containers, street art from the likes of Miami-based Herbert Galarza—R&V knows just when to dim lights and get the party started. Outside, where customers might be playing cards on vintage tables, lounging on pillows or hanging at the Airstream Bar, playlists curated by Velez will gradually build in tempo over the course of the night. “After a few drinks, you see people bobbing their heads to the sounds,” he says. “And I’m like, ‘Yes, it works!’”
Along with disc jockeys that spin a variety of music from Thursdays to Sundays, and weekly events that produce discounted or complimentary drinks (like white wine or rosé for the ladies on Thursdays, from 7 to 10 p.m.), R&V is known for original cocktails that incorporate house-made syrups and sour mixes, as well as freshly squeezed juices. Among the favorites: Watermelon Vine, with lemongrass, mint, pureed watermelon, lemon and vodka; and Art Basil, with pureed cucumbers, sour mix, gin, St-Germain liqueur and basil.
This month, look for seven new craft cocktails that make use of seasonal ingredients. The innovative selections include: You Da Mango (pictured above; made with mango, carrots, lemon juice, mint and Hendrick’s gin); Tequila Me Softly (grapefruit reduction, lime juice, Aperol, Avión tequila); and Coco Cholo (orange bitters, chocolate coconut tea syrup, coconut ash, coconut water and Hudson bourbon).
“We don’t look to follow suit with our trends,” Velez says. “We’re trying to stay ahead of the curve.”