Julio Cabrera is among the most respected names in American bartending. He’s made himself known behind the bar at Miami’s lauded Regent Cocktail Club, but he attributes his success to the tenants of his native Cuban bar culture. In Cuba, those who want a career tending bar go to school to become “cantineros,” a title that connotes excellence in service and craft. Cabrera has made it his mission to share this culture, bringing more than 60 American bartenders to Havana to experience his home country’s unique cocktail culture (and rum).
While at Tales of the Cocktail last summer, Cabrera sat down to talk with us about what it means to be a cantinero, the true origins of a daiquiri and what makes a well-made daiquirithe perfect cocktail.