Level up

International cuisine inspires the creative cocktails at a new Brickell restaurant

Maxwell Parise knows that, at the end of the day, you just want a vodka soda or a rum and Coke. But the bar manager at Level One (1110 South Miami Ave., Miami) hopes you’ll take a chance and expand your horizons when you visit his establishment.

And Parise has plenty of options. He tries to come up with 10 new cocktails a day, though he admits, “not all 10 are always good” when he tests them with other staff members. Still, he hits more than he misses, inspired by Level One’s international cuisine. One of the recent hits is the Gimme Level One, a multilevel twist on a gimlet inspired by the restaurant’s name.

Maxwell was inspired by tiki cocktails that feature a sweet base and a lighter mixture on top, hence the levels: a grenadine base; lime juice, syrup and gin in the middle; and pinot nero (Italy’s version of pinot noir) on the top. The grenadine is a surprise for those who don’t expect the sweetness to come through; the light red pinot nero doesn’t overpower the other tartness.

“I definitely want you to be able to taste each part of it,” Parise says. “That’s why on each level you can choose to blend it as you’d like.”

Parise recommends pairing the cocktail with the restaurant’s chicken bites appetizer with potatoes and corn that lend depth and sweetness.

Though he wishes he had come up with a more clever take on the word “gimlet” than “gimme,” he’s looking forward to seeing people continue to be surprised by the drink as Level One, which celebrated its grand opening last month, continues to make its mark on Miami’s dining scene.

“It’s a good entry-level for anyone that wants to go past the standard, classic cocktail. … That little extra sweetness with a nice finish should make you raise your eyebrow a little bit. You look at the bottom of the glass and think, ‘I just really enjoyed that drink,’ ” Parise says. “At the end of the day, I just want everyone to be as happy as possible.”

Gimme Level One


1 ounce Jack Rudy grenadine

3/4 ounce lime juice

3/4 ounce simple syrup

2 ounces Hendricks gin

1 1/2 ounces pinot nero


Pour ingredients in the following order into a rocks glass: grenadine, lime juice, simple syrup, gin. Shake for 10 seconds and strain over large ice. Finish with floater of pinot nero. Garnish with Luxardo maraschino cherry on a pick.


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