12/04/2013 07:32 am ET Updated Feb 03, 2014

Love Letters: Miami

Ross Graham is the founder and managing member of Miami Cocktail Company, which launched this past spring. Graham, a serial entrepreneur, has lived in Miami for 10 years, and most recently moved from Miami Beach to Brickell.


A city that is known around the world. Often as I travel the inevitable question arises - where are you from? I say Miami, and without pause, comes the normal flood of stereotyped responses.

From Don Johnson to Tony Montana, from Cocaine Cowboys to the Art Deco on Ocean Drive and everything in between. Tourists. Nightlife. Beach by day. Party by night. Miami is certainly a city that has an interesting reputation and some, without question, quite well deserved.

I love Miami. Miami is one of America's most iconic cities. But I love Miami for what it really is... beyond the stereotypes, beyond the clichés, beyond even our beautiful beaches. I love the real Miami. The Miami beyond the tourist spots. The Miami that continues to grow, evolve, and inspire.

Miami is a vibrant and passionate city that is a direct reflection of its strong Latin American influence. This influence is reflected in our food, our cocktails, and our renowned entertainment. Inspired by innovative mixology bars like the Broken Shaker and Regent Cocktail Club, we founded Miami Cocktail Company to preserve and share the spirit of Miami's unique neighborhoods.

Brickell, the downtown core and financial hub of the city, continues to develop into a truly cosmopolitan city center overlooking the waterfront. The proudly historic and established Coconut Grove and Coral Gables neighborhoods, including the must see Village of Merrick Park, continue to evolve while maintaining their old world charm. With a beautiful integration of green space parks, boutique shopping, charming new restaurants, and world-class art, the quality of life is truly one of the best Miami offers.

Wynwood Art District has seen an unbelievable transformation and is now a vibrant community that home to over 70 galleries, museums and collections. Wynwood Art Walk, a lively celebration of art every second Saturday of each month, is an absolute must see.

The Midtown and Design District is where art, design, fashion, and food converge in a rapidly growing neighborhood. Luxury retailers have started to open unique spaces to present their collections.

Part of the dramatic transformation of the city is the emphasis on the arts. Florida's largest performing arts center is located in the heart of downtown Miami, The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, commonly called The Arsht Center, home of the New World Symphony, the Miami City Ballet, the Florida Grand Opera, as well as many top Broadway shows, is a must see. The Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) will open this December during Art Basel 2013 and is a first class art museum dedicated to collecting and exhibiting international art of the 20th and 21st centuries. Nothing illustrates Miami's new direction as much as Art Basel, the favorite winter meeting place for the international art world, with over 250 of the world's leading galleries participating. The new art museum, along with the upcoming Miami Science Museum, will further enrich downtown's cultural revitalization.

The parties may be great but Miami has a vibrant, compelling culture that often remains untapped. I'm hoping that one of these days, when I'm asked where I'm from, someone will tell me all about the award-winning ballet at The Arsht Center, the newest libation at Broken Shaker and the acclaimed chef that is making his home in our lovely city.