Matt Phillips’ rookie season started in speak-easy style at the Forge’s bar excellence, followed by a stint as part of the SLS Hotel’s top-notch team. In 2012, he took flight and landed the opportunity to start his own program at Toro Toro’s downtown destination. His presence dominates the Latin-themed steakhouse located in the colossal lobby of InterContinental Hotel, yet his demeanor stays as cool as the cucumbers he peels for garnish. “I love a challenge, sometimes a customer will just request a liquor and all I’ll ask is their preference for sweet, sour or strong,” he says as he frees a blood orange-jalapeño ice cube from its mold. The “Most Valuable Beverage” of his mixology menu fuses Ron Zacapa Centenario and RumChata cream liqueur with banana-infused syrup in a Hershey’s salted chocolate-rimmed glass. “Chef Richard Sandoval’s cuisine emphasizes Pan-Latín flavors and I wanted to highlight spirits that are largely ignored in domestic cocktail culture,” he says. Bright Brazilian cachaças, aromatic Colombian aguardientes, smoky Mexican mezcals and crisp Peruvian piscos are heavily represented on his roster, but Phillips also pulls from the local talent of South Florida distilleries like Miami Club Rum. Start your winning streak at Toro Toro; 100 Chopin Plaza; 305.372.4710; ToroToroMiami.com.
½ oz. Johnnie Walker Black Blended Scotch
½ oz. Bushmills Black Bush Whiskey
½ oz. Licor 43 Liqueur
½ oz. Diseño Malbec
½ oz. Simple Syrup
1 oz. Lime Juice
Filthy Cherries for garnish