Behind the bar, mixologist Julio Cabrera shakes up some of Miami’s most creative cocktails. Honored in September with the national title of Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender 2013 for his winning drink, the Ganesha, he’s made his mark on Magic City’s cocktail culture creating a menu of inventive tipples for The Regent Cocktail Club. Cabrera’s famed cocktail and debonair flair also snagged him a cover on GQ Magazine’s special December “Men of the Year” issue. Next up: Competing for the Bombay Sapphire World’s Most Imaginative Bartender title in London in May 2014. Despite his busy schedule, he still had time to fill us in on Miami’s cocktail scene, his winning libation and more.
What inspires your inventive drinks?
Anything — a trip, a person, a location, an experience. I am inspired by cultures, flavors, spices, people, experiences that create a mood. I like to incorporate local flavors into classic cocktails.
Can you share your winning recipe for the Ganesha?
The Ganesha is a combination of Indian spices. To re-create it, you’ll need: two ounces of Bombay Sapphire gin, 3/4 ounce of grapefruit-masala syrup (homemade), 3/4 ounce of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, one bar spoon of Martini dry vermouth, elderflower espuma (homemade) and three drops of Mumbai bitters (homemade)
To prepare the cocktail: Combine gin, grapefruit-masala syrup, lemon juice and dry vermouth in a chilled shaker. Shake well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with elderflower espuma and Mumbai bitters, and then garnish with a micro basil sprig and grapefruit zest.
Not only did you take home the national title of Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender 2013, but you also landed the December cover of GQ Magazine this year. What was that like?
I still can believe it. It was such an incredible experience and accomplishment.
How would you describe the Miami cocktail scene?
This year, Miami jumped to one of the best cocktail destinations in the world. Miami bars are taking a turn with cocktails. They are going back to basics using classic cocktail recipes and adding local flavors to them.
What can guests expect at The Regent Cocktail Club?
I have been at The Regent since the opening day, December 3, 2012. The Regent Cocktail Club defines a classic bar, holding true to the craft of mixology. It uses simple ingredients and classic recipes to concoct the perfect cocktail. I like to incorporate local Cuban flavors into classic cocktail recipes.
What impression do you want to make on The Regent Cocktail Club patrons?
A complete experience — good drinks with great service and the perfect environment. The Regent Cocktail Club is a bar where sophistication meets art. We take the time to create a craft cocktail experience for every guest. Guests can select their cocktail of choice from the signature 20-page cocktail book or the bulletin board display of daily specials. The Regent Cocktail Club book features a variety of traditional classic cocktails, Cuban classics and tropical drinks, paying tribute to local culture and offering variety for everyone.
What are some of The Regent Cocktail Club’s most popular drinks?
All the classics — the Calle Ocho, the old fashioned. Our signature cocktails are the piña colada and the Hemingway daiquiri. This season, look for new creations for Havana Nights (an event on Thursdays featuring live music and drinks).
What cocktails are you shaking up for this season?
Brandy Alexander: Two ounces of cognac, one ounce of crème de cacao, one ounce of heavy cream. Shake and strain into a coupe glass, and add grated nutmeg on top. It is a variation on the Alexander, which is the same as above except with gin, which is equally delicious.
Manhattan: Two ounces of rye whiskey, one ounce of Italian vermouth (Cocchi di Torino preferred), three healthy dashes of angostura bitters. Stir and strain into a coupe glass, and put an orange swatch expressed over top. For every single holiday and/or occasion — celebration or tragedy — this drink hits the spot.
Stinger: 1.5 ounces of cognac, 1/2 ounce of green crème de menthe. Build with crushed ice and garnish with mint sprig.
Saint James Flip: Two ounces of Averna amaro, 1/2 ounce of Demerara, one whole egg. Dry shake, add ice, shake and strain, no garnish.
Chamomile Kilt: Two ounces of 12-year-old Macallan or similar, 3/4 ounce of chamomile simple syrup (make tea, then combine 1 cup of tea and 3/4 cup of sugar), four to six mint leaves, 1/2 lemon. Build in tin, muddle all ingredients, add ice, shake, double strain over fresh crushed ice, add mint sprig garnish.
Autumn in New York: One ounce of pear liqueur (Clear Creek preferred), 1/2 ounce of lemon juice, 1/2 ounce of rich simple syrup, three drops apple cider vinegar, two ounces of cava, spritz of St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram. Shake all ingredients except cava and dram, strain into coupe glass, top off with cava and atomize dram over top.
Photo Courtesy of LDV Hospitality