12. Julio Cabrera: Gentleman Bartender
Courtesy of Hunter PR
New Times' Best of Miami 2014 issue arrives June 19. To celebrate, Short Order is paying tribute to Miami's culinary all-stars. These people forged our city's food scene into what it is today -- a thriving amalgam of tastes and cultures. Through their insight and talent, they've given the city a unique flavor and paved the way for bright new chefs and restaurateurs to follow their lead and take the Miami food scene into the future.
Julio Cabrera has been working as a bartender for as long as some of his customers have been alive. But bartending is in the blood of this Cuban native, who has been making drinks and training other bartenders for nearly a quarter of a century. Long before the "mixology" renaissance, Cabrera was crafting fine cocktails while others were pouring rum and Cokes in plastic cups.
Cabrera graduated as a trainer in hotel and tourism in Nicosa, Cypress, in 1991, and hasn't stopped since, working in Italy and Mexico and participating in the International Bartender's Association World Cocktail Competition in Slovenia 2002. In 2008, Cabrera helped create the cocktails for Michelle Bernstein's Sra. Martinez. Today, Cabrera can be found making the perfect Papa Doble at The Regent Cocktail Club -- when he's not filming a mixology competition (America's Bartender), winning a national competition like the Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender Competition, or landing a GQ cover. Whether its touring a distillery to learn the backbone of his craft or mentoring up and coming bartenders, Cabrera does it with style and grace.
Soon, Cabrera heads to New Orleans' Tales of the Cocktail, where his lounge and team are nominated for several "Spirited" awards.
Julio Cabrera's role as bartender extends far beyond the reaches of The Regent Cocktail Club. The dapper bartender has led educational trips to Cuba, guiding groups of mixologists and rum enthusiasts to the classic bars of Havana, including a pilgrimage to the grave of Constantino "Constante" Ribalaigua, owner of the El Floridita bar, where a certain writer named Ernest Hemingway spent many hours.
In His Own Words
"The Miami food and cocktail scene has changed in the last five years. There is no longer just a small group of chefs with innovative menus and well designed restaurants. Now, we can find a good amount of well known "celebrity" chefs doing an amazing job, along with some important upcoming stars. The reinvention of Cuban and Latin food is also remarkable.
"The cocktail culture improvement is even bigger. From just two serious cocktail programs in 2008, there's been an explosion of more than a dozen craft bars with good bartenders creating fantastic drinks, some of them already nominated among the best in the country. Finally, Miami is more than vodka/soda and Scotch on the rocks."
Miami Food All-Stars
25. Dewey LoSasso
24. Mark Soyka
23. Jason Starkman
22. Lorena Garcia
21. Barton G.
20. Mike Hampton
19. Chef Creole
17. Cindy Hutson
16. Jack Homes
15. Shareef Malnik
14. Bruce Ozga
13. Robert Is Here
Let your voice be heard by voting in our Readers' Poll. Visit readerschoice.miaminewtimes.com by June 4. Then check out the 27th-annual Best of Miami issue, available online and in print Thursday, June 19, to see if your favorites won.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Miami dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.