Isolation-Era Video Challenge: Julio Cabrera of Cafe La Trova | Miami New Times

Cocktails & Spirits

Cafe La Trova's Julio Cabrera Throws a Mean Cocktail

Julio Cabrera demonstrates his cocktail-throwing skills while singing.
Julio Cabrera mixes cocktails at his home bar.
Julio Cabrera mixes cocktails at his home bar. Courtesy of Julio Cabrera
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Miami's culinary community has been bowed by the coronavirus, but it's far from broken. Every day, its members demonstrate they refuse to go down without a fight. With equal parts talent, ingenuity, and moxie, they're working to keep locals fed, to keep as many employees on the payroll as possible, and to show their appreciation and support for those on the frontlines.

In an effort to show our appreciation, New Times is reaching out to our friends in the hospitality industry and inviting them to engage in some fun self-promotion while sharing their less obvious talents.

Welcome to the New Times Isolation-Era Video Promo Challenge!

Got a bartender who does bar tricks? A chef who plays the violin? A kitchen crew that can strut its dance moves? (While maintaining a safe social distance, of course.)

Send us your best stuff, and we'll share it with our readers if our discerning staff finds the production and entertainment values to be up to snuff. Videos should not exceed three minutes in length and, in addition to amusing or otherwise impressing our jaded sensibilities, must explicitly promote your establishment in some form or fashion.

Kind of like a free ad — but it must be a creative one. And no ringers!

Email videos of your stellar efforts to [email protected] by attaching a file or including a link.

When he's not at Cafe La Trova, the Calle Ocho restaurant he co-owns, Julio Cabrera is accustomed to traveling the world to preach the gospel of the perfect cocktail. The coronavirus pandemic having temporarily clipped his wings, Cabrera is offering daily happy-hour cocktail demos on Facebook.

In his video submission, Cabrera shares a special cocktail recipe with New Times readers: The Hotel Nacional, named for the famous Havana hotel, combines pineapple juice, rum, apricot liqueur, simple syrup, and lime. The ingredients are simple, but the technique is advanced. To make the proper foam for the cocktail's presentation, the drink must be "thrown" — a maneuver that requires the bartender to pour the drink from one cocktail shaker into another from a great height without spilling a drop.

Oh, and in Cabrera's version, he sings a verse of the classic Cuban love song "Lágrimas Negras" to the finished drink.

If throwing a cocktail looks difficult, Cabrera assures you it is. "It takes a lot of precision," the barman says. "You have to know how to do it, and it takes hours of practice."

Cabrera says that he hones his technique in the backyard, using water, and that it's sure to take neophytes plenty of failed attempts to get to a point where not a drop is spilled. That said, Cabrera points out that those who have time on their hands and a healthy shot of determination will get the hang of it eventually. "It's like every technique, like shaking or muddling," he says. "You just have to master it."

If you prefer to wait until Cafe La Trova reopens so the master can make a Hotel Nacional for you, Cabrera suggests a few simple yet delicious drinks for your social-distancing happy hour.

"Make something easy with ingredients you already have," he says. "A daiquiri or a margarita are two popular and easy cocktails to make. You just need lime juice, sugar, and tequila or rum."

While Cabrera isn't not slinging cocktails, he's spending time with his wife Beatriz, son Andy, and daughter Lupe. Together, they exercise daily, watch Netflix, and fix things around the house.

At the end of the day, having a bartender in the house means a cocktail is never far away.

Says Cabrera: "We make sure to enjoy happy hour every single day we're together."
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