The face of the Cantinero movement in the United States, Julio Cabrera is one of the most influential bartenders in the world, bringing his Cuban style, personality and skills behind the bar from the shores of Miami to locations across the world.
Winner, MixItUp “The Ultimate Mixology Challenge,” 2011
Best Bar in America” for Sra. Martinez, Esquire, 2012
Bombay Sapphire & USBG “Most Imaginative” Bartender, 2013
Winner, Mixing Star U.S., 2012
Runner Up, Diageo World
Class USA Finale, 2013 &
Julio Cabrera has been working for 27 years as a Cantinero-Bartender in his native Cuba, Italy, Cancun and Miami. Julio was bred in the bar industry: his family owned a bar in the 50’s and 60’s until it had to close down in 1968. In his youth, Cuba needed engineers and so he studied to be an agronomist. In 1989, the country opened itself to international tourism, which created a wealth of opportunity for young Cubans. So Julio studied hotel management and graduated as a Trainer in Hotel and Tourism in Nicosia, Cypress in 1991. But when he got a taste of working behind a bar, he knew that’s where his passion was.
After a few years of bartending in Cuba and winning national cocktail competitions, he was noticed by Havana Club and offered a position with the brand in Italy. A member of the International Bartender Association, he later went on to represent Cuba at the association’s I.B.A. World Cocktail Competition in Bled, Slovenia in 2002.
Julio then left Europe to manage the Bar Programs at Grand Aqua Hotel in 2004 and Condesa Hotel in 2005, both in Cancun. While there, he met a person that would change his life: chef Michelle Bernstein. She brought him to Miami, to work at her restaurant Michy’s. At the time, Miami was lagging behind other major US cities in terms of cocktail programs, and after his Cuban education and Italian experience, local bartenders seemed below par and not professional. This all started to change in 2008 when Bernstein opened Sra Martinez, a tapas restaurant, and handed Julio the keys to the bar. Julio inserted his award-winning creations in the Cocktail Menu for four years, making it one of Esquire Magazine’s 2012 “Best 100 American Bars.” In December 2012, Julio joined other recognized bartenders to open The Regent Cocktail Club in Miami. The bar is a throwback to the 40’s, when the cocktail was trying to get back on its feet after prohibition. No creations, only classics, served by impeccably dressed bartenders to the sound of live music.
Since 2009, Julio also worked as a bartender at Viceroy Hotel Miami and has participated in several Regional and National Mixologist Competitions with excellent results. Without leaving the bar, Julio is a Diageo World Class Trainer on Cruise Lines, working on a book and making a dream come true: to be a professor of future generation of Bartenders, teaching the Cantinero’s Legacy. Julio lives in Miami, helping transform our cocktail culture into something worthy of accolades and when he isn't behind the bar, he is training fellow bartenders on the ways of the "cantinero," the classic bartending style from his native Cuba.