Meet Your Mixologist: Rose Bar at the Delano’s Bernie Waters

By Shayne Benowitz

Change has subtly swept the Delano over the last six months. Its iconic subterranean lounge once known as the Florida Room is now FDR. Upscale Italian fare is served at the new Bianca replacing Blue Door as the main restaurant off the lobby. And the White Rabbit Sunday pool parties now draw a crowd to the once-excluxive hotel guest only pool. This overhaul is thanks to the Light Group, a Las Vegas-based lifestyle group with an emphasis on high-energy nightlife and fine dining.

While the lobby may have seen some shape-shifting, the whimsical Phillipe Starck design reminiscent of Alice falling down the rabbit hole is still very much the same. And nestled there, amidst new Venetian glass chandeliers and a marble bar, is the Rose Bar. A perfect spot to sip a cocktail and watch the parade of the Delano’s characters come and go through the lobby.

“It’s an iconic, well-known hotel lobby bar, but it was in need of an identity,” explains head bartender Bernie Waters of its reemphasis as a true cocktail bar. “We provide premium service, fresh ingredients, and drinks are made to order.”

While Waters may be a newer face to Miami’s mixology community, he’s certainly making a quick rise. He was recently named Miami brand ambassador for Pernod Ricard’s Connoisseur Cocktail Recipes book featuring English gins. The book showcases his original cocktail, the Fellini Flip, made with Plymouth gin, Aperol, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg whites shaken and strained into a martini glass, and topped with prosecco and a grapefruit peel garnish.

Waters considers himself a true student of mixology’s craft and history, and his philosophy is to create simple, straightforward cocktails with flawless presentation and execution. “Less is more,” he says.

He’s also influenced by Miami’s diverse local population, including both Latin Americans and Europeans who visit the hotel. This sometimes propels him towards concoctions made with rum and other cane-based liquors, as showcased in the classic Hemingway Daiquiri made with Bacardi Superior, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, simple syrup, lime, and grapefruit. There’s also the Chili Watermelon Caipirinha made with cachaça, seedless jalapenos, and watermelon chunks.

His cocktail background is influenced by stints behind the bar at other iconic Miami hotels, including the Fontainebleau, the Raleigh, and the Delano’s sister property, the Mondrian.

When Waters isn’t shaking up his own drinks behind the Rose Bar, he enjoys sampling the drinks at Downtown haunts like The Corner and Will Call. He’s also excited for the return of Bar Lab’s Broken Shaker to the Indian Creek Hotel.