La coctelera bar san juan: La Coctelera restaurant, San Juan, J5400ASR

Best Bars In San Juan

Our co-founder, Paulina Salach Antonetti recently wrote an article for NewWorlder.com about where to get your drink on in San Juan. See below for the full article.

In San Juan, the sexy capital of Puerto Rico, the finest bartenders are dominating the cocktail scene. It’s the city where Ramon “Monchito” Marrero invented the piña colada in 1954 and where rum has ruled since the 19th century. Engrained in the culture, chinchorros (no-frills bar/eatery synonymous with weekend road trips and cheap drinks) still remain a local favorite, but the evolution of the cocktail culture is remarkable. San Juan’s bartenders are adventurous, creative and competitive. Put them against any of their colleagues in London, New York or Paris and they will instantly impress while simultaneously making life long friends. They are concocting their own bitters, sourcing local ingredients to make shrubs, experimenting with out of the ordinary fat washes and choosing their beloved ron de Puerto Rico to make variations of classics. It’s an exciting time to drink in San Juan.

La Coctelera
Over the last few years, La Calle Loíza has become quite the drinking and dining destination. Its still up and coming, a Brooklyn outpost of sorts, making the price tag appealing to business owners. La Coctelera, brain child of Jorge Busch, focuses on seasonal, local products. For his Que Mamey, Jorge sources cacao from Ponce to make the extract and procures mamey zapote, an exotic fruit, from Isabela on the West coast. What started as a cocktail bar, soon evolved to an excellent gastropub. The chicken and waffles are on point and the beef tartar with béarnaise sauce and quail egg is an excellent starter. Facebook page

Que Mamey at La Coctelera

La Factoría
This Old San Juan bar rightfully sits at number 31 on the World’s Best Bar List. Once called Hijos de Borinquen (the stencil proudly adorns the back wall), the bar was a oasis for the city’s free-spirited artists and independent thinkers. Today, this nostalgic spot remains a favorite in Old San Juan. Whether you sit at the bar, indulge in a wine cocktail at VINO or dance the night away in Shing-A-Ling (known to host famous salsa players), La Factoría is always a good time. Popular drinks include the lavender mule with lavender infused ginger tea and the spiced old fashioned with Facto bitters and Don Q Gran Añejo.  Facebook Page

Bar La Unidad
With its low ceilings, sexy ambiance and classic 1920s music, you’ll wish this was your neighborhood bar. Located in Miramar, a residential section of San Juan, it’s easy to miss – the only marker is a red-link logo representing the 3 owners.  This unpretentious bar, straight out of Peaky Blinder’s, is an ideal place  to sip an after-work cocktail. Facebook Page

Touro
Touro transports you to the Golden Age of Cocktails, a time when an apothecary was a bartender’s playground. Shrubs and bitters were used for medicinal proposes and Fernet Branca, a bitter herbal liqueur, was known to cure stomach aches. Perfumes, aromas, rose and elixirs all play a part at Touro, where Joey Fernandez is your botanical bartender. Try the Pink Branca with Gin (a favored pre-prohibition spirit), Fernet and Punt e Mes. tourorestaurant.com

Pink Branca at Touro

Oveja Negra
These guys take the whole speakeasy thing seriously – you’ll have to check your instagram to get the night’s password. Guarded by a well-clad gentleman, the wrought-iron door behind La Bartola leads to a fun atmosphere, quite a party scene on weekends. Try the brown-butter fat wash rum neat or in an old fashioned with chocolate bitters. Instagram Page

Santaella
The bar at Santaella is one of the prettiest and best-stocked on the Island.  The bar and restaurant, owned by famous Chef Jose Santaella, is modern tropical with exposed walls, an interior garden and papaya wallpaper.  Sit at the bar and get to know house mixologists Jonathan Meléndez and Michael Norat, both winners of the World Class Competition. These days the boys are looking to fresh produce and herbs to infuse their cocktails. The herbs come from the restaurant’s tower garden and the passion fruit in Michael’s ‘La Parchita’ is sourced from the farmer’s market down the street. Don’t skip the food here. Order the goat cheese quesadilla with white truffle oil and the tuna skewers. You’ll want to dress up to fit in with the well-dressed patrons. santaella.com

Mike Norat at Santaella

El Batey
This dive bar is an institution. Owner and ex-pat David Jones moved to the Island in the 60s, drawn by the beautiful weather and gorgeous women. The Hemingway of Puerto Rico, Mr. Jones created a free-spirited, welcome-all atmosphere that lives on today. Don’t expect a dehydrated lemon or fancy coupes. Here, it’s all about Medalla beer, Ron de Barrilito shots, Cuba Libres in plastic cups and a game of pool. If you find space, sign your name on the wall (its never been painted). Who knows, maybe you’ll run into Benicia del Toro, he’s been known to frequent the bar.

VINO
Tucked behind the infamous La Factoría cocktail bar is a small piece of wine heaven. As soon as you step through the swinging wooden door, your first reaction will be of pure surprise. Who would have thought this exists? Choose from the well-curated wine list by Sommelier Franco Busó or try one of their specialty wine cocktails. Particularly noteworthy is the Message in a Bottle with Barrilito 3 Estrellas rum, rose honey, citrus and cava. Facebook Page

Pera Maraya
Isla Verde, known for its beautiful beaches and ritzy hotels, has lacked in quality food and drink. Newcomer Pera Maraya is a much needed addition to the Isla Verde strip. The atmosphere is romantic, perfect for date night. Try the Mr. Martínez, a twist on the classic 1880s cocktail where bourbon is swapped for Old Tom Gin, Pamplemousse Liqueur is added for sweetness and the kick from the hellfire bitters give the drink a wonderful balance. Facebook Page

Martinez Fizz at Pera Maraya

La Penúltima
Science lab meets bar in Santurce’s La Penúltima.   A centrifuge is used to clarify juices, liquid nitrogen to chill glasses and CO2 is pumped to give you a perfectly carbonated beverage. Just ask owner Stephen Hoppe how he makes his banana simple syrup for the Daiquiri, you’ll be dazzled by the lengthy and impressive process. For those of you wanting a beer, there are always great beers on draft to choose from. Do order the burger, it’s one of the best in town. 

El Watusi
This corner bar in the heart of Santurce, is a Puerto Rican hipster’s paradise. It’s in the middle of the arts district, surrounded by galleries and impressive murals by local and international artists. Order a beer or a Don Q con Toronja (fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice with local rum) and take in the scenery.  You’ll see locals playing dominos on the sidewalk, someone grilling pinchos (pork or chicken skewers) and once the salsa comes on, dancing spills onto the street.

JungleBird
Tropical meets sexy at JungleBird, the newest venture by La Factoría owners Roberto Berdecia and Leslie Cofresí.   Along with Bar Mini veteran Chuck Rivera Rodríguez, the guys are rocking the tiki cocktail game. It’s all about Tiki versus Tropical at JungleBird where the Mai Tai is infused with achiote, and soursop is added to the Voo Doo Fashioned.  Chacón’s Guilty Pleasure, named after talented and bootylicious salsa dancer Iris Chacón, is ingenuously served in a clear coup, representative of her sexy curves. Next time you’re at the beach, you’ll be dreaming about these cocktails with their colorful umbrellas, tiki cups,  inventive names and all their glory.

Project 18
At San Juan’s newest bar, table side cocktail service provides for the ultimate VIP experience in a casual setting. Equipped with bitters, ice, shakers and garnishes the carts have all the fixings for your cocktails. It’s like having your own private bartender but without the clubby bottle service vibe and inflated prices. Facebook page

Gallo Negro
At this Santurce meets Brooklyn restaurant, the bar menu has evolved from whiskey-focused to one that showcases cocktails from the pre, post and prohibition era. The Sazerac, Sidecar, Daiquiri and Aviation are all on the menu. If you’re hungry, Chef María Mercedes always has something fun in store and anything Asian-inspired won’t disappoint. Facebook Page

Green Cocktail at Gallo Negro

Sabrina
The florals, greenery, and tropical chic decor evoke an endless brunch feeling. Calle Loíza’s newest resident draws a stylish and lively crowd that’s ready to taste Chef Juan Camacho’s Caribbean-inspired menu and sip on cocktails way into the evening. But don’t only label it as a girls-night-out kind of place. The guys will love cocktails like the Vesper, Negroni and anything with the house peanut butter washed rum. Facebook page

Written By: Paulina Salach Antonetti

Images By: Gustavo Antonetti

 

 

 

San Juan’s best cocktail bars

In the balmy Puerto Rican capital of San Juan, the creative class has merged the art of island living with the art of crafting a cocktail. The result? A wave of striking flavors that delight both connoisseurs and amateurs. And that’s just what’s on the menu – where you drink matters just as much. From the well-worn and crusty to the meticulously decorated, these bars are little masterpieces serving up  some seriously inventive booze.

The piña colada cocktail originated in San Juan in 1963 © pkripper503 / Getty Images

El Batey, for dive bar vibes

Chandeliers made of old business cards, walls filled with graffiti and cryptic messages (some from the 1970s and 80s) and a vintage record player featuring the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and Draco Rosa albums – these are all part of the delicious mashup that is El Batey, a dive bar found on Cristo Street. The place is tattered, scribbled on, and bewitchingly dark in the best possible way; as soon as you cross the dilapidated door of El Batey, you get into their groove, and everyone else here seems to be under the same spell – soulfully jamming to the vintage music, sharing deep thoughts with the bartender and writing stories on the walls. The bartenders are good at crafting the classics (like homemade mojitos), but when left to their own devices they improvise based on a patron’s mood, coming up with adventurous concoctions.

An old disc player tucked in a nook inside El Batey © Melissa Alvarado Sierra / Lonely Planet

Oveja Negra, for turn-of-the-century charm

Oveja Negra, meaning ‘black sheep’, was created as a nod to the speakeasy, Prohibition style of the 1920s. The bar is known mostly by word of mouth, as the owner refuses to promote it anywhere and asks for a password to get in. Follow them on Instagram (@ovejanegra_pr) to get the password and then head to Bartola restaurant in Miramar. Once inside, look for a liquor shelf by the restrooms and knock as if it were a door. The shelf will open to let you inside Oveja Negra, with its burgundy wallpaper, early 20th century furniture and mixologists clad in film noir fashions and attitudes. You can stick to what’s on the menu – like the ‘Malas Palabras’, the ‘Something Sexy’, or the ‘Nutcracker’ – or ask for a drink to be invented just for you right on the spot by one of their award-winning mixologists.

La Factoria, for bar-hopping in one place

The suspender-wearing bartenders and the decaying glamour of the decor will help you identify this bar on San Sebastian street. An intriguing red bulb by the bar table goes on after 6pm, signaling the opening of three additional bars hidden behind a crooked door next to the restroom. Layers upon layers of peeling paint from decades past help set the mood, as well as the penciled name of the previous bar – the beloved Hijos de Borinquen – that peeks through the plasterwork. La Factoria is famous for their ‘Lavender Mule’ (vodka, ginger beer, and a homemade lavender infusion), but the ‘Ginger Spritzer’ (vodka, German Riesling, Cava and ginger) and the ‘Spiced Old Fashioned’ (aged rum, homemade dried herbs syrup, and bitters) will take your tastebuds on a wild ride.

The main entrance to La Factoria features the sign of the previous bar, the famous Hijos de Borinquen © Melissa Alvarado Sierra / Lonely Planet

Bar La Unidad

, for relaxed glamour and Sinatra tunes

Following the same thread of Prohibition-era bars, this atmospheric speakeasy establishment (facebook. com/barlaunidad) lies hidden beside a restaurant named Soda on Cuevillas street. A minimalist symbol (three interlocking circles) is displayed on the door and is the only reference to the bar. The brainchild of restaurateur Mundi Morin, La Unidad resembles the lobby of an old hotel with over-sized vintage couches, moody decor and lighting, and Sinatra tunes enveloping it all. The same philosophy about cocktail improvisation holds true here – ask your bartender for something tailored to your taste or try one of their famous concoctions, like the ‘Cortadito’, their version of an ‘Old Fashioned’ made with hand crafted bourbon, espresso, and chocolate bitters and shavings.

La Coctelera, for a chic escape into the gastrobar world

Because it’s disguised as a run-down venue from the outside, it’s hard to believe the pristine interior of La Coctelera (facebook.com/LaCocteleraPR). With a clean industrial look and well dressed mixologists (the uniform consists of suspenders, a bowtie, and a beret), it’s obvious this is not your average cocktail bar. They call themselves a gastrobar, and serve high-end food and inventive drinks like the ‘Reina de Carnaval’, a mix of rum, lime, pineapple and a touch of ginger, and the ‘Tesla’, made from vodka, limoncello, tonic, and Jenever, served inside a light bulb.

The chic entrance of La Coctelera © Melissa Alvarado Sierra / Lonely Planet

El Bar Bero, for a drink and maybe a haircut

Need a drink and a haircut? El Bar Bero (facebook.com/elbarberopr) can give you both. This is a barbershop during the day and a high-end cocktail bar at night. Hair is a theme here: the perennial mustache symbol serves as decoration and barbershop chairs serve as bar stools. Three different Carlos’ run the place and they are all chatty and welcoming. The ‘Tiki Man’, ‘La Vieja del Barbero’ and their homemade ginger beer – all served in vintage flasks – are worth a sip.

Inside Cinema Bar, vintage lamps hang from the centuries-old ceiling and film memorabilia fills the walls © Melissa Alvarado Sierra / Lonely Planet

Cinema Bar 1950, for rocking mojitos and a movie

Tucked inside the Ballaja barracks, by the San Felipe del Morro fort, Cinema Bar 1950 (cinemabar1950. com) gives cinephiles a place to drink and watch foreign and independent films in the heart of Old San Juan. The place is filled with film memorabilia, styled with vintage chairs and artifacts, and it features two theaters that resemble cocktail bars from the 1950s. There’s an antique lamp for every seat and enough space to enjoy a drink with food while watching your movie. Their mojitos are simply the best in town and the food menu will take you on a journey through Puerto Rican tradition with their calamaditos (codfish fritters with shrimp), pork mofongo (garlicky mashed plantains) and chicharrones (deep fried breaded chicken with aioli).

 

MELISSA ALVARADO SIERRA

Lonely Planet Writer

 

Best Cocktail Bars in San Juan / Puerto Rico

In the pleasant Puerto Rican capital of San Juan, the creative class combined the art of island living with the art of cocktail making. Result? A wave of vibrant fragrances that will delight connoisseurs and lovers alike. And that’s just what’s on the menu — where you drink just as much. From shabby and crunchy to elaborately designed, these bars are little masterpieces that offer some seriously inventive drinking..

Piña colada originated in San Juan in 1963. © pkripper503 / Getty Images

El Batey, Dive

Old business card chandeliers, walls filled with graffiti and cryptic writing (some from the 1970s and 80s) and a vintage turntable with albums by the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and Draco Rosa is all part of the delightful El Bati mashup, a dive bar found on Calle Cristo. The place is shabby, scrawled, and bewitchingly dark at its best; as soon as you cross El Batey’s ramshackle door you fall into their groove and everyone else here seems to be under the same spell — soulfully muting old music, sharing deep thoughts with the bartender and writing stories on the walls. The bartenders are good at creating classics (like homemade mojitos), but when left to their own devices, they improvise based on the patron’s mood, coming up with adventurous concoctions.

An old CD player tucked away in a corner of El Bati © Melissa Alvarado Sierra / Lonely Planet

Oveja Negra, for turn-of-the-century charm

Oveja Negra, meaning «black sheep», was created as a tribute to speakeasy, a 1920 prohibition style -s years. The bar is mostly known by word of mouth as the owner refuses to advertise it anywhere and asks for a password. Follow him on Instagram to get the password and then head to the Bartola restaurant in Miramar. Once inside, find the liquor shelf in the restrooms and knock as if it were a door. The shelf will open and you will be taken to Oveja Negro with its burgundy wallpaper, early 20th century furniture and mixologists dressed in trendy and stylish movie looks. You can stick to what’s on the menu — like Malas Palabras, Something Sexy or The Nutcracker — or ask for a drink that’s concocted for you on the spot by one of their award-winning bartenders.

La Factoria, one-stop racing

Suspended bartenders and decaying glamor will help you identify this bar on Calle San Sebastian. An intriguing red light at the bar table is on after 6:00 pm, signaling the opening of three additional bars hidden behind a crooked door next to the toilet. Layers upon layers of peeling paint from decades past help set the mood, as well as the penciled name of a previous bar — a favorite of Hijos de Borinquen — that peeks through the plaster. La Factoria is famous for its «Lavender Mule» (vodka, ginger beer and homemade lavender infusion), as well as «Ginger Spritzer» (vodka, German Riesling, cava and ginger) and «Spiced Old Fashioned» (aged rum, homemade dried herbs, syrup and bitter drink) will take your taste buds for a wild ride.

The main entrance to La Factoria bears the sign of the previous bar, the famous Hijos de Borinquen © Melissa Alvarado Sierra / Lonely Planet

La Unidad Bar

, for quiet glamor and Sinatra melodies

Following the same chain of prohibition-era bars, this is an atmospheric charade the establishment is hidden next to the Soda restaurant on Cuevillas street. The minimalist symbol (three interlocking circles) is displayed on the door and is the only reference to the lath. The brainchild of restaurateur Mundi Morin, La Unidad is reminiscent of an old hotel lobby, with oversized vintage sofas, moody decor and lighting, and Sinatra’s melodies wrapping it all up. The same philosophy about improvising cocktails is true here — ask your bartender for something tailored to your taste or try one of their famous concoctions like «Cortadito», their version of «Old Fashioned» made with handmade bourbon, espresso and chocolate bitter and shavings.

La Coctelera, for a chic entry into the world of gastrobars

Since it is disguised as a dilapidated venue from the outside, it’s hard to believe in the pristine interior of La Coctelera. With a clean industrial look and well-dressed mixologists (the uniform consists of suspenders, a bow tie and a beret), it’s clear that this is no ordinary cocktail bar. They call themselves a gastrobar and serve high quality food and inventive drinks such as Reina de Carnaval, a blend of rum, lime, pineapple, and light ginger, and Tesla, made with vodka, limoncello, and tonic water.

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