The South Beach Wine and Food Festival has descended upon South Florida, which means, foodies everywhere are ready to chomp down on some delicious cuisine and refreshing drinks from some of the most renowned chefs in the nation. The only downside? Scoring a ticket can often prove unsuccessful (unless you are willing to dish the big bucks) and that bad beach traffic and nonexistent parking is enough for any festival goer to lose their appetite. Fret not, my fellow food lovers! I have a stylish and yummy alternative that is quite savory and chic, without the hassle of reservations and scalped tickets. And the best part? It's located right in Mid-Beach- in the center of all the SOBEWFF action.
A few days ago, I was invited to experience the European-inspired AC Hotel Miami Beach (http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/miaac-ac-hotel-miami-beach/), a boutique hotel offering top notch amenities in a more intimate and sophisticated setting in the heart of Miami Beach. When I walked into the sleek lobby of the hotel, with its muted grey and white palette, I immediately felt a cool-like energy that was both vibrant and relaxing. One of my favorite spaces within the hotel, was the laid back yet sultry lounge space available to both guests and locals. It's the perfect spot for a pre-game cocktail before heading off to your next glamorous adventure!
Have a SOBEWFF event but want a grab a drink with friends beforehand? Not a problem. The AC Lounge has you covered. No reservations or tickets required! In fact, anyone who visits the AC Lounge during the festival and checks in and/or posts a picture tagging the property (with the handles @AChotelmiamibeach and #achotelmiamibeach,) on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter is eligible to win a $50 bar tab.
I was very excited to sample the lounge's tapas drink and appetizer menu on my visit and I'm excited to share with you some of my most memorable tastes! First up, this filling Antipasto salad with prosciutto, salami, mozzarella, and roasted vegetables- which was a home run in the salad department. Conjuring both the spicy and rich of a starter salad, this was the ideal starter to kick off the rest of the dishes. It was paired with a gin and tonic- which unfortunately, was a little too strong for my taste- but hey, it could easily be someone else's bag.
Let's introduce the second presentation with this fun newsflash: drinks at the AC Lounge are affordable- yes, you heard me- affordable, which is pretty much a myth in Miami Beach. Cocktails range anywhere from $9-$11. Not a bad way to start your night! Taking my first bite into the Tomato Braised Eggplant and Ricotta Toast was absolutely heavenly. The addition of the parmesan gave a nice kick to the bite's finish. If you're big on bourbon, then you'll love the Biscayne Boulevardier, which is made with Cyrus Noble Bourbon, Fruitlab Hibiscus Liqueur, and Aperol. It'll give your body a surprising jolt!
If you're coming a with a group of friends, set up shop at one of the lounge's tufted spaces. They're comfortable and great for flowing conversation! If you rather a more private and 'up-close-and-personal' vibe, head to the streamlined mirrored bar and get lost amidst the allure of bar dining and decadent drums.
I think I speak for most foodies when I say, bring on the dessert! AC Lounge won me over with their delicious goat cheese and honey cheesecake. The glaze was mouthwatering combined with the creaminess of the cheesecake. It was proportionately sized so I didn't feel engorged or like a beached whale after consuming such wonderfully rich and appetizing dishes! This particular dessert dish was paired with a berry-anise liqueur from Spain- tangy and evenly sweet when enjoyed with the goat cheese.
You won this girl over!
I have to give a special mention to this preferred cocktail because it was actually one of my favorites. It's called The Flagler- made with Titos Vodka, Macchu Pisco, Simple Syrup, Key Lime, and Amargo Vallet Angostura. I'm usually not a vodka drinker, but this libation was off the charts refreshing and tasty.
Coming by the AC Lounge felt like I was getting the full SOBEWFF experience within my own hidden gem! If you need a place to escape the beach madness, come to the AC Hotel. If you're a guest of the hotel, grab a drink and head to the rooftop, which offers the most stunning views of the ocean and the picturesque Miami Beach street scape.
We finished off our day with a glass of bubbly, specifically, the Stiltsville - an effervescent delight made from Cocchi Americano, Sparkling Wine, St. George Absinthe, and lemon Juice. Pair it with some scrumptious and crunchy macaroons, and you've got yourself a winning combo!
Now that I've consumed a tapas meal fit for a king, I'm ready to spread the good word about the AC Hotel Miami Beach. If these pictures taken by the talented and creative Chris Carter of Ra-Haus Fotografie (www.ra-haus.com) haven't convinced you yet, then you need to check out the lounge for yourself! Be a trendsetter, or a food setter, and start the night right at the AC Lounge. Did I mention how affordable your tab would be?! You'll find me there Saturday evening with some champagne in my hand!
Dress- Erin Fetherston for Rent The Runway
Hat- Goorin Bros Lincoln Road
Sunnies- Forever 21
Heels- Christian Siriano for Payless Shoes