La Factoria

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148 Calle San Sebastián, San Juan 00901

AMID THE MEDLEY OF COLOURFUL OLD EDIFICES that is the port town of San Juan lies La Factoria. This is the bar that has put Puerto Rico on the cocktail lover’s map. We saw it coming – La Factoria only narrowly missed out on the list last year so we made the not- so-bold prediction that it was a Bar to Watch for 2015. It didn’t disappoint.

Disconnected from the well-heeled cities of cash-loose industrial hospitality, La Factoria’s achievement is all the greater. Creating a craft cocktail and wine bar from a near void is the work of true pioneers. Let’s face it, the easy option in the Caribbean is to bash the brains out of some fruit and drown what remains in rum. No, La Factoria does craft cocktails the proper way, but with none of the self-importance. It takes the essence of laid-back Puerto Rican style, warm service and makes simple drinks with fresh ingredients, such as the Spiced Old Fashioned and Lavender Mule.

This was the old site of the city’s favourite café, Hijos de Borinquen but La Factoria has become a new habitat for the city’s young artists and musicians, who seem to blend seamlessly into the shabby but natty Latin decor. There is no La Factoria sign, but visiting tourists have found their way into the mix. Perhaps drawn by the low-lit, homely, salsa-filled ambiance, or word that between these walls are the best cocktails in town. It could even be the speakeasy-style wine bar, found through a hidden door. Whatever it is, La Factoria has it.