The Sylvester Brings a Non-Alcoholic Buzz to Miami

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In today’s overcrowded food and beverage market, bar owners often struggle to make their bar unique. And in South Florida, competition is fierce. New bars and restaurants open and close every day, and the only way to stay afloat is to offer high quality products that are truly different.

The Sylvester, located in the heart of Miami, aims to do exactly that. This season of REACH explores the unique stories behind the making of emerging and successful food and beverage businesses in South Florida. The Sylvester was just established this year, and is already making a name for itself in the city.

Ben Potts, the bar director for The Sylvester, co-founded the joint with Chef Brian Nasajon after quitting a “miserable” job in investment banking.

“I quit my job without having a plan,” says Potts. His goal was to craft drinks that were truly innovative. “Non-alcoholic beverages are what we’re trying to push and highlight.”

In addition to typical alcoholic drinks, The Sylvester offers kombucha, an extensive coffee list, tea, and wellness water and cocktails infused with CBD. There are even a few mushroom elixirs on the menu.

“We’re trying to push the envelope from a cocktail perspective,” adds Potts. The goal, for him, is to allow customers to “reap the benefits of a medicinal product in a food and beverage setting.”

The bar is designed to look nostalgic and “very distinctly” Miami. With vintage wallpaper, retro stylings, and a wide selection of board games, the place immediately feels welcoming and familial.

Check out the full episode to learn more about the bar and some of the recipes behind the unique drinks available at The Sylvester!

How To Use Infused Spirits to Have a Cost-Effective Bar Program

On this episode of Smart Kitchen and Bar, our resident master mixologist, Oscar Castaneda, shares with us ways to use infused spirits, like St. George Spirits’ Green Chile Vodka, in order to have a cost effective bar program. The key here will be to create cocktails that are approachable for your customers.

“An infused vodka is going to give you the ability to play more with the flavor and the layer[s] of the drink…” says Castaneda. “You have to make sure that… at the same time it’s not going to turn your guest experience away.”

The intention for this upcoming drink, named Georgia Mule Twist, was to use a familiar drink like the Moscow Mule and use ingredients (like the peach and apricot syrup) that would play along with the hot and sweet pepper infused vodka to make an approachable yet unique drink. It’s served on a tumbler or copper mule glass and garnished with lime and mint.


This next drink was inspired by today’s featured spirit which is a mix of a traditional spirit like vodka and the infusion of sweet and spicy ingredients to give us a modern blend of flavors. Oscar calls this “old school and new school.”

He proceeds to mix all his fresh squeezed juices to create a balanced sour base for the Georgie Kick cocktail, then he adds a maple reduction and egg white and gives it a heavy shake. What really makes this cocktail stand out is the cilantro meringue that was browned with a cook torch.


Check out the Smart Kitchen and Bar episode to learn tips about how to make these drinks scalable for your beverage program!

How to Use Classic Cocktails For Inspiration To Create A New Drink With A Popular Spirit Like Rum

On this episode of Smart Kitchen and Bar, our resident master mixologist, Oscar Castaneda, shares with us how to take a different approach with a popular spirit like rum, featuring Mount Gay® Rum. The Black Barrel rum used in this episode features complex aroma notes of spice, toasted wood, and fruit. It has a bold spice taste balanced with oaky vanilla and sweet caramel.

“Rum is something that might be a little bit too sweet and what I usually suggest as an operator and as a mixologist is: Don’t fight it, try to work with it!” says Castaneda.

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Old Fashioned cocktails are traditionally made by muddling sugar with bitters, adding whiskey and garnished with a citrus rind. Using that process as inspiration, Castaneda figures out how to incorporate rum into the classic cocktail for his first drink. Named Twist On An Old Fashioned, this drink will help you wow those guests who are looking to be adventurous. This cocktail will surprise anyone who tastes it, as it branches out of its classic presentation to become its own creation.


  • 2 oz. Mount Gay Rum

  • Dash of Pineapple Juice

  • Orange Zest

  • Dash of Walnut Bitters

Served as an Old Fashioned in a short, round, tumbler-like glass with a cinnamon, brown sugar, and nutmeg rim. It is topped with whipped cream (made out of almond milk, line, lemon and cilantro) and garnished with an orange peel, cinnamon stick, and topped with a black cherry.

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This next drink was inspired by the classic drinks that you would normally think of when someone says rum. Our master mixologist wanted to make a drink that was a little lighter and refreshing, but still maintained the tropical vibe that characterizes rum drinks.

“We are going to use the same ingredients but in different layers to create almost like a new age of a Piña Colada,” says Castaneda.

TROPICAL TYPHOON (New Age Piña Colada)

  • 2 oz Mount Gay Rum

  • 1 oz Coconut water & allspice

  • 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice

  • 1/2 oz Orange Juice

  • Dash of Cinnamon

  • Dash of Base Cherry Juice

Garnish drink with two lime slices and orange zest.

Check out the Smart Kitchen and Bar episode to learn tips about how to present these drinks in your beverage program!

Whether You’re a Foodie or an Aspiring Chef, These Are the Miami Food Halls You Don’t Want to Miss

In the past few of years, there has been a powerful surge of food hall concepts popping up across the country and in late 2017 the wave finally arrived in Miami, Florida. Since then, many food hall concepts have been opening in the area especially in the first half of this year.

On this episode of On Foodable Side Dish, we meet three food hall operations featuring three very different concepts. First, we get the chance to meet Alex Cuevas, founder of Vshops—the world’s first 100 percent vegan food hall. Then, we sit down with Ruben Paredes, the Director of Operations of Miami’s first food hall—1-800-Lucky—serving up Asian cuisine. Finally, we get to hear from Kenzie Motai, Assistant General Manager of St. Roche Market, Miami —a contemporary food hall serving as a platform for up and coming chefs.

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Alex Cuevas, Founder and CEO of Vshops is a former senior technology executive who gave up his prominent tech career in New York to pursue his true passion for sustainable food, health, and animal welfare. At 10 years old, Cuevas had decided to go vegan after he found out how animals were being treated in factory farms.

“...the way the animals were treated and then the way they were “dispatched” or put down, it was incredibly disturbing to me,” said Cuevas. “... and when I realized that my favorite foods were tied to the suffering I said I don’t want anything to do with it at all.”

Cuevas decided to open up his first Miami vegan concept, Choices Cafe, in 2011 after a frustrating trip to South Florida, where he had a hard time finding a place to eat that would cater to the vegan lifestyle he was accustomed to. Now with the Vshops food hall, Cuevas not only aims to cater to vegans, but his hope is to really impress non-vegans in order to inspire consciousness.

Check out the episode above to learn about all the different vegan concepts that reside within the Vshops food hall located in the Miami neighborhood of Coconut Grove!

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Ruben Paredes takes time out of his day to break down for us all of the concepts within Miami’s first food hall—1-800-Lucky. Paredes, who was recruited by Sven Vogtland (one of the people behind Wynwood’s Coyo Taco), has been working in the hospitality/restaurant industry for two decades, but this is the first time he has dedicated himself to working for a concept like this one.

“I personally think that after all my years in this industry… for me, this format is the best,” said Paredes. In his words, 1-800-Lucky is a concept that provides a combination of “great food, great offerings... it’s simple, casual, it’s fast.”

Whatever Asian culinary craving a person may have, 1-800-Lucky is bound to have it for its guests. The Asian food hall provides Chinese barbecue (Lotus + Cleaver), dim sum (YIP), Vietnamese sandwiches (Les Banh Amis), traditional ramen (Hayato Miami), poke (PokeOG), ice cream (Taiyaki), and handmade sushi rolls (Myumi). It’s important to note that each food stand derives from a larger restaurant brand from across the globe.

Check out the episode above to see the food and drinks being featured at 1-800-Lucky!

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St. Roch Market

Kenzie Motai, who joined the St. Roch family in December of 2017, sat down with us to explain the concept of this food hall hailing all the way from New Orleans. St. Roch Market first opened in Miami in late February of this year and it boasts 11 unique food vendors while providing 1 central bar for its guests.

“Each vendor is a small business owner and entrepreneur,” says Motai. “We’re kind of the place you come to, to see the next up-and-coming chef in Miami before they blow up and open their own restaurant.”

As Motai explains, St. Roch Market is a historic market from New Orleans that has been around since 1875. It was rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina to be made into a food hall and now serves as a great platform for chefs to start their business.

Check out the episode above to hear about the experience from a chef working at St. Roch Market food hall!

If you’d like to learn more about other concepts by Sven Vogtland, like Wynwood’s Coyo Taco, check out the video below!

Why your Bar Program Needs Indulgent and Health-Conscious Cocktail Drink Options

On this episode of Smart Kitchen and Bar, our resident master mixologist, Oscar Castaneda, shares with us interesting ways of using and presenting cocktails with spirits like brandy and gin, featuring St. George Spirits. These types of cocktails are on trend when it comes to the two popular sides of the drink spectrum focusing on one end the health-conscious consumer and on the other end the over-indulgent.

“Brandy is usually something people think about as an after dinner drink or like a sipper. We want to show that there’s a way to make other things with it…” says Castaneda.

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The intention for this upcoming drink, named The Américan, is to make a dessert in drink form. Castaneda makes the argument for having a cocktail in your menu that will help guests end their restaurant or bar experience on a high note.


  • 2 oz. St. George Pear Brandy

  • 1 oz. St. George Gin

  • 1 sliced Pear muddle or Pear purée

  • 3/4 oz. Cinnamon & Clove Brown Sugar reduction

  • 1 Egg White

Served as a martini with a graham cracker crust rim and garnished with a shaved pear and a cinnamon stick.

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This next drink was inspired by the “Zen movement” as Castaneda calls it The Yogi. Our master mixologist got his inspiration from the botanical and aromatic features from the terroir gin.

“They want to transport you with their product to what inspires their process to begin with; therefore, what a better way to connect the dots than by mixing nature and our inner yogi,” says Castaneda.


  • 2 oz St. George Gin

  • 3/4 oz Lavender Lemon Syrup

  • Blueberries, Basil, Ginger muddle

  • Turmeric powder

  • 1 oz Soda water

All ingredients except soda short shaken, then poured into a glass with soda water. Garnish glass with a basil leaf, blueberries, and lavender bitters.

Check out the Smart Kitchen and Bar episode to learn tips about how to make these drinks scalable for your beverage program!