Top five craft distilleries in South Florida

South Florida has long been a hotbed for craft breweries, but recently a growing trend of craft distilleries has taken root. Other famous distillery regions offer one type of booze, bourbon from Kentucky, rum from the Caribbean, or whiskey from Scotland and Ireland. But South Florida’s distilleries are as unique and colorful as the region itself. From family history to intricate craft cocktails, you’d be surprised what ends up in your glass at these places. 

Here are five of the best spots to wet your whistle.

A flight of spirits at Chainbridge Distillery (Carlton Gillepsie/Caplin News)

Chainbridge Distillery
3500 NE 11th Ave.
Oakland Park, FL 33334
(954) 900-3924
Monday: Closed
Tuesday-Wednesday: 12-5 p.m
Thursday: 12 -8 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 12.-9 p.m.
Sunday: Closed

Chainbridge is a true hidden gem. Nestled just off Dixie Highway in the budding downtown of Oakland Park, it brings an old-world approach to craft distilling. A family-run business with roots that trace to the Tokaj region along the Hungary-Slovakia border, this distillery brings its traditional “pálinka” or Hungarian brandy to South Florida. But that’s not all. They also produce rum, gin, and both carrot and beet spirits. You can try a flight of four for $15. If neat spirits are too strong, try the cocktails, all assembled with fresh ingredients and garnishes. They cost between $9 and $14. Their cocktail list is as diverse as their booze, with unique twists on classics like kiwi cucumber gimlet, made with freshly squeezed cucumber juice or sour cherry old fashioned.

Recently recognized as Oakland Park’s small business of the year, this distillery has won multiple awards from the American Craft Spirits Association for their brandies. Full bottles of their diverse range of liquors sell for $38.

The taproom at South Florida Distillers (Carlton Gillespie/Caplin News)

South Florida Distillers
1110 NE Eighth Ave.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
(954) 541-2868
Hours: Appointment only

While you may not have heard of South Florida Distillers, you may have already tried their product. That’s because they are the ultimate craft spirits incubator; they’ve filled the bottles of over 150 brands of craft spirits. If you find yourself in a heavy metal bar with their own whiskey or a glitzy casino with their own vodka, chances are the intoxicants came from South Florida Distillers. Contract distilling is not the end of the services offered. South Florida Distillers also produces their own rum under the name Fwaygo, which is made with sugar cane from Florida and comes in silver, spiced, and grilled pineapple.

They distilled their first batch in 2014, which makes them the oldest distillery in Broward County that is still active today. Recently, they’ve moved into a space in Fort Lauderdale that was previously owned by the since-departed Khoffner brewery. While the space isn’t quite ready for regular taproom hours, it is available for private events. They are updating the taproom and expect to update customers soon on their progress.

“Shadytown” at Sistrunk Marketplace (Carlton Gillespie/Caplin News)

Shady Distillery
616 NW Second Ave.,
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311, United States
(954) 869-4170

Located inside the Sistrunk Marketplace in Fort Lauderdale, Shady Distillery offers a much more hands on approach to the distillery experience. While there is a bar dubbed “Shadytown” in the center of the food hall where you can try their craft vodka and rum, the real treats are the tour and dinner pairings. The tours are $30 and you can view the facilities and learn the basics of distilling. You’ll also be given two craft cocktails to try as well as some light bites. The dinner pairing experience includes a tour as well as a full dinner with courses matched specifically to four craft cocktails all in the beautiful barrel room for $55. You can also find their offerings at some local restaurants.

Pictured above are two of Big Cypress’ signature spirits, Big Cypress Bourbon(left) and Magic City Gin(right). (Sebastian Cuervo/Caplin News)

Big Cypress Distillery
13995 SW 144th Ave. #207, Miami, FL 33186
(786) 228-9740
Monday-Thursday: Closed
Fridays: 5 to 11p.m.
Saturdays: 5 to 1 a.m.
Reservations recommended

Located in the warehouses just behind the Kendall-Tamiami Airport lies another hidden gem, Big Cypress Distillery, co-founded by head distiller Fernando Plata and cousin Mark Graham. Fernando and his staff are always open to talk shop and treat all their guests like family, a trait that is very welcoming and adds a charming atmosphere. The menu has a variety of different cocktails, but bartender Ryan Acosta will tailor the experience to you. He takes the time to learn what you like and make the cocktails that best suit your tastes and preferences. With a vast selection of different in-house spirits such as guava liqueur and chocolate liqueur, the cocktails are limited only by your imagination and will run you anywhere from $10-$15. 

There is no kitchen, but Big Cypress allows you to order food to be delivered to you during your visit or even bring in your own takeout. At Big Cypress they want you to feel at home above anything else. Perfect for a date night or a night with friends, Big Cypress Distillery is a must in South Florida. Make sure to keep an eye out for a new location opening soon sometime in 2024.

The front facade of Gulf Stream Brewing (Carlton Gillespie/Caplin News)

Gulf Stream Distillery
1101 NE 13th St.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
(954) 990-8868
Hours: Appointment only

Gulf Stream has already made a name for itself in the craft brewing world. Their brewery has been wildly successful since its opening and their taproom is always full on the weekends. But now, they’ve decided to try their hand at craft distilling. Looking to capture the spirit of the history of Florida’s rum runners and bootleggers, their small batch booze is created with local ingredients. Currently only their vodka is available, and it can be found at restaurants including the famous 15th Street Fisheries in Ft. Lauderdale, but soon gin, rum, whiskey, and agave spirit are expected to be released.

Carlton is a Digital Broadcasting student and intends to pursue a career in journalism. Born and raised in Broward County, he hopes to combine his passion for this community and storytelling to deliver news, insights, and perspectives to the people of South Florida.

Sebastian Cuervo is a senior majoring in digital journalism with a focus in sports journalism. After his studies, he wishes to pursue a career as an on-air sports analyst.