Having an Open Bar Without Breaking the Bank

Open Bar? Price vs Quality… hmmm… what to do? We recently had the chance to sit down with Jonathan Rodriguez, Bar Manager at the Living Room located inside the W South Beach in Miami Beach, on ways to stay within budget without sacrificing caliber. Looking for the best booze worth the buck for a significantly less expensive open bar? Of course you are 😉 Read on…

Rum: Ron Barceló’s Dark Series ($23) and Ron Barceló Grand Platinum ($20)

“Ron Barceló Dark series is a premium rum. It’s really smooth and perfect for a vintage cocktail (like a Highball or Old Fashioned) or on the rocks. For cocktails, use the Platinum Barceló” 

Gin: Gin Tanqueray ($30)

“Gin Tanqueray is a well-known brand that is cheaper than Hendricks and Bombay. It’s best for simple cocktails, like a Gin & Tonic or Negroni”

Tequila: Tequila Espolón ($25)

“Tequila Espolón is a great value brand, where event the reposado is cheaper than some Blanco tequilas! Besides, shots, it makes good Palomas and Margaritas”

Vodka: Tito’s Vodka ($20)

“Tito’s Vodka is a value brand and mixes well with just about anything. In a cocktail, Moscow Mule is best”

All of the following recipes are originals by Jonathan himself… we may or may not have tried them at some point or another 😉

Guava Fiz

  • 2oz Gin
  • 1oz Lemon
  • 1oz Rosemary Syrup
  • 1oz Guava Puree
  • 1oz Cream
  • Egg White
  • Chilled Collins Glass
  • Top With Guava Soda
  • Garnish: Rosemary


  • 2oz Vodka
  • 1oz Watermelon
  • .5oz Lime
  • 3 Dashes of Crème De Mente
  • Coupe Glass
  • Garnish: Lime Wheel With Mint Sprig

Rum With Me

  • 2oz Rum
  • .5oz Lime
  • .5oz Coco Lopez
  • 1oz Pineapple
  • 1 Basil
  • 3tsp Granulated Brown Sugar
  • Double Rocks Glass
  • Top With Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish: 2 Pineapple Leaves Covered in Brown Sugar

Garden Fresh

  • 2oz Reposado Tequila
  • .75oz Lime
  • .25 Aperol
  • .25 Agave
  • 3 Cherry Tomatoes
  • 5 Dashes of Olive Oil
  • Coupe Glass
  • Garnish: Olive Oil


“Another way to budget would be to create His/Her or Bride/Groom cocktails. Featuring two cocktails that might be favorites of the wedding couple gives a personal touch while controlling what spirits and mixers you need. For the guests who don’t drink cocktails, have a beer and wine alternative.” – Jonathan Rodriguez

Jonathan Rodriguez | Living Room Bar at the W South Beach | @wsouthbeach