Julio Cabrera is a celebrated ambassador for Cuban culture in the cocktail world – both him and his signature fedora seem present wherever fine rum or cigars are sampled. In 2019, the ex-pat opened Café La Trova, a virtual embassy for his native island’s culinary culture in Miami’s aptly-named Little Habana neighbourhood.
A collaboration with James Beard winner Michelle Bernstein, Café La Trova is a joyous celebration of Cuban hospitality. Stepping into the space, one is instantly transported to the Caribbean via sight and taste. The bar team adheres to the traditional (and theatrical) cantinera style created by Constantine Ribalaigua at Havana’s El Floridita. Typically, the bartenders are busy throwing Hotel Nacionals (rum, apricot liqueur, pineapple juice, lime juice, simple syrup) through the air or dramatically shaking a Daiquiri (rum, lime juice, simple syrup). Yet, the dinner jacket-uniformed staff also find time to pick up maracas and play along with the house Son Cubano band.
Bernstein’s food is equally harmonious. Authentic empanadas and croquetas provide accompaniment for the rum-forward drinks. Full entrées are also available, like the signature fresh fish sautéed in mango-lime butter with coconut rice and lechon. Be sure to leave some time (and room) to dance after dinner.