A new generation of bartenders is transforming Puerto Rico into a premier cocktail destination. Building on the Island's established rum culture, these unique cocktails combine spices, tropical fruits, European bitters, and premium spirits, using techniques honed in international competitions and guest bartending gigs around the world.
Here's your guide to sampling Puerto Rico’s cocktail (and mocktail) scene in the Metro region. There’s also a bonus bar in case you’re headed to the west coast of the Island.
Calle San Sebastián #148, Old San Juan
Voted one of the top 50 bars in the world four years in a row, La Factoría is an absolute must-visit for the cocktail aficionado. La Factoría is actually three bars in one. At Front Bar, you can sit by the open doorways, sip a Lavender Mule or Spiced Old Fashioned, and watch the people strolling through Calle San Sebastián. If you want a more low-key ambiance, go through the red door to Vino, a wine bar serving wine by the glass or the bottle as well as cocktails and plates to share. Looking for a party? Follow the sound of live salsa music to Shing-A-Ling, where you can dance into the wee hours of the morning.
156 Sol St. 2nd Floor, San Juan
Walking up the winding steps to The Mezzanine you’re transported to 1950s Old San Juan. You’ve just stepped into the home of Pedro Albizu Campos, leader of the Puerto Rican nationalist movement, which plotted to overthrow the U.S. government. Past the foyer and the living room, behind the bar next to the shelf stocked with pristine bottles of spirits, aperitifs, and bitters, a cement wall still sports bullet holes from when the FBI raided the place in October 1950.
Framed photos and newspaper clippings tell the story of this place, transformed into a cocktail and tapas bar in 2012. The drinks are classically inspired and have a notably tropical twist, like the Guava Cosmo or the Patria Libre, a simple libation of aged rum served over coconut water ice cubes.
La Barrita del Lado
250 Convention Blvd., San Juan
Start your evening with an artisan cocktail at La Barrita del Lado. Located right at the heart of San Juan’s newest entertainment venue, Distrito T-Mobile, you can enjoy people-watching or catch what’s being projected on the giant screens of the main plaza while sipping on a signature cocktail. Talented mixologists have created a diverse menu that features local rum libations and tropical takes on classic cocktails like the Parada 10 Collins and the Mojito del Lado. From there you can bar- and restaurant-hop around Distrito T-Mobile, take in a movie (and another cocktail) at Caribbean Cinemas VIP, or stay for a concert at the Coca-Cola Music Hall.
35 Barbosa St., Isabela
If you’re heading out west, be sure to stop by La Central in the beautiful beachside town of Isabela. Located in the heart of the city center, the atmosphere of La Central is intimate and relaxed. Every month the venue hosts local bands, art shows, and bar takeovers featuring guest chefs and bartenders. Their regular menu features finely crafted cocktails, usually a mix of five or six ingredients combined to create an unexpected sensory experience without too much pomp or circumstance. After a day by the water, it’s the perfect place to unwind, listen to some live music, and enjoy a cocktail.
Bonus Tip: Head to neighboring Aguadilla and visit some of their famous food truck parks.