Meet Your Mixologist: Juvia’s Armand Rodriguez

By Shayne Benowitz

“We don’t veer too far from the classics. We just infuse a unique, special twist.”

Perched atop Lincoln Road’s 1111 Meuron de Herzog Building, the sweeping 270 degree view and the quietly elegant design aesthetic is enough to prompt a visit to Juvia. With an outdoor terrace and a floor-to-ceiling glassed in dining room and bar, a vertical garden anchors the two spaces where views extend from the mainland, Biscayne Bay, and the Venetian Causeway across Miami Beach to the endless Atlantic Ocean. The effect is that of floating on a cloud — a light and airy cloud — with white-washed wooden paneling, chairs resembling woven baskets, and purple accents that include fresh orchids and the amethyst quartz bar.

It’s no wonder that the newly opened restaurant has an equally exquisite food and beverage program. Helmed by two heavy weight chefs, Sunny Oh of Nobu and Alain Ducasse protege Gregory Gourreau, the menu features both French and Japanese dishes. Manager Armand Rodriguez is quick to point out that the cuisine is not fusion, however. The common thread pulling both chef’s styles together is South American and Peruvian ingredients and influences.

These influences extend to Juvia’s cocktails where Rodriguez says the food is the inspiration. For instance, their caipirinha is spiced up with a traditional aji amarillo pepper that is also found as an ingredient in some of the dishes’ aiolis. “We use the freshest, highest quality mixers and sours available,” Rodriguez says. “We don’t veer too far from the classics. We just infuse a unique, special twist.”

For instance, the Ginger Julep substitutes Jameson Irish Whiskey for bourbon and adds Domaine de Canton and ginger to mellow the mint and fresh lemon sour. The result is a strong yet refreshing cocktail perfect for Miami’s year round warm climate.

A cocktail not to be missed is Juvia’s signature Purple Rain, made with Grey Goose, fresh lemon sour, and housemade chicha morada, which is a Peruvian purple corn-based soda made with spices, such as cinnamon, clove, and star anise, as well as pineapple and passion fruit. Served in a martini glass with a lemon twist, the cocktail is a deceivingly saturated purple color. One might expect an overly sweet finish, but the drink is smooth and mild with an unusual, earthy sweetness attributed to the purple corn.

Juvia provides ample seating to mingle over a cocktail, either inside the dining room at the spacious bar or outside on the terrace at the communal high table. Rodriguez marvels at Miami’s changing ambiance as day turns to night. Lunchtime brings bright sunshine with views of catamarans and parasail boats gliding across the ocean. A cocktail at sunset before dinner lights up the sky with an amazing east-west vantage, and the city positively sparkles for the perfect nightcap perched above it all.