MGM+’s newest crime drama, Hotel Cocaine, takes viewers inside the heartbeat of Miami‘s most tumultuous era. The Mutiny Hotel was the hub of Miami’s cocaine scene during the 1970s and ’80s.

Located in the luxurious Coconut Grove area of South Beach, the Mutiny was a safe space for the most prominent drug traffickers and the FBI agents on their tails. For the night, the groups would put down their guns and celebrate the spoils of their labor.

Hotel Cocaine follows the story of the Mutiny’s general manager, Roman Compte, portrayed by Danny Pino. The Cuban exile tries to find his way in America while distancing himself from the chaos and danger that comes along with his cocaine kingpin brother, Nestor Cabal, played by Yul Vazquez.

“One of the many themes of this show is to maintain this sort of hedonistic adult playground party where anything is possible, and it’s all pleasure. But we see to support the people who can actually afford the cocaine that there is an awful lot of other people who are paying the price for that,” Pino told Blavity’s Shadow and Act during a recent set visit. The adult playground of the Mutiny has been memorialized in several movies and television shows, including Scarface and the successful Netflix miniseries Griselda.

Compte is content with overseeing the den of sin under the watchful eye of his eccentric boss and hotel owner, Burton Greenberg, played by Mark Feuerstein.

The intricacies of the drug trade are just a minor factor in the show’s conflicts. Television veteran Michael Chiklis plays Agent Zulio, who pulls Compte into the world he straddles in hopes of bringing down his drug-trafficking brother.

Chiklis revealed that although his character is seen as the arm of justice, he’s not exempt from corruption.

“He will be tested, and things will change,” he said.

Hotel Cocaine is the brainchild of Chris Brancato and Guillermo Navarro. Brancato, known for his other gritty historical dramas Narcos and Godfather of Harlem, also served as the executive producer and showrunner on the series.

He mentioned that part of the show’s appeal is its commitment to authenticity and detail. Brancato chose to shoot the series in Santo Domingo because it resembled Miami during the ’70s and ’80s, and he was intentional about casting the roles.

“We decided that every role in the show, especially every Latin role, would be by an actor of the nationality they’re portraying,” he said.

He added, “I think it creates a validity to all the different characterizations. It’s honest to the historical background of the fictional characters we’ve created.”

The commitment to authenticity and diversity continued behind the camera, with Mexican director Sara Seligman making her episodic directorial debut with episodes 105 and 106 of Hotel Cocaine.

Every episode captures the glitz and glamour that comprised the splendor of The Mutiny Hotel, with replicas of the over-the-top themed rooms, dancefloor and bar that hold the era’s stories.

The series also captures the music of the time using disco and ’70s soul as the soundtrack. Rapper Swizz Beatz made a guest appearance on the series as DJ Kool Herc, controlling the iconic club’s DJ boards. 

Swizz Beatz has worked with Brancato as the music director for Godfather of Harlem and was happy to jump into the role and immerse himself in the lifestyle that engulfed the city. 

“Every place has its underworld, and it’s amazing to see the underworld being celebrated so high, but it can get dark at the same time,” he said. 

He continued, “So in the middle of all that dancing, the underworld is happening while people are celebrating. It’s like a gift and a curse to watch. It’s weird to see. Music plays a part in it, the drugs play a part in it, the women play a part in it, the gangsters play a part in it, and poverty plays a part in it. All those things that are vices play a big part in it.” 

Brancato acknowledged the light-hearted comedic relief in the series fueled by the “innocent” cocaine use of the ’70s and then the ruthless turn when the corruption and trail of bodies became too significant to ignore. 

“For every bit of cocaine on a table at the Mutiny, there would be three dead people left back in Colombia,” he said. 

He added, “We get a window into the dark, secretive world and the heightened stakes of drama. We learn the reality, and throughout the season the characters do too.” 

Hotel Cocaine debuts on MGM+ on June 16.