Cocktails & Spirits

Julio Cabrera Named Bartender of the Year at 2019 Spirited Awards

Julio Cabrera is surrounded by son Andy, daughter Lupe, and wife Betty as he receives the award for Bartender of the Year at the Spirited Awards.
Julio Cabrera is surrounded by son Andy, daughter Lupe, and wife Betty as he receives the award for Bartender of the Year at the Spirited Awards. David Martinez
Julio Cabrera's talents as a cantinero were recognized this past weekend at Tales of the Cocktail.

The cocktail and craft spirits festival, held in New Orleans, named Cabrera American Bartender of the Year at the event's annual Spirited Awards.

Cabrera, a partner at Little Havana's Cafe La Trova, has made a lifelong career of bringing style and precision to the role of bartender.

La Trova partner David Martinez was at the awards ceremony to witness Cabrera receive the accolade. “Julio winning American Bartender of the Year is both a dream come true and an incredible moment for a man who has put everything he has into this industry. Julio is the most humble person you will ever meet, and yet everyone knows 'Papa.'"

Martinez was quick to point out that although Miami establishments have won in other categories, this is the first time a local was named Bartender of the Year. "This is an amazing moment for the entire Miami community."

Another winner with Miami ties was Nina Compton and Larry Miller's Compére Lapin, which won the award for Best American Hotel Bar. Compton was a chef at Scott Conant's Scarpetta at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach until 2014 before opening her restaurant inside the Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery in New Orleans the following year. Compton also received a James Beard Award for her work at the NOLA eatery.

Last year, Miami Beach's Sweet Liberty won the World’s Best Spirit Selection and Best American Bar Team awards and John Lermayer was posthumously given the Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition, Broken Shaker was named Best American Hotel Bar.

The Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards were founded in 2007 to celebrate excellence in the cocktail and spirits industries. Find a complete list of winners in all categories at

Cafe La Trova. 971 SW Eighth St., Miami;
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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss