A Tiki-inspired Recipe from Puerto Rico’s Cocktail King

Knock a few back with Leslie Cofresí, the man responsible for elevating Puerto Rico’s craft cocktail scene to international acclaim
June 19, 2019Words by Luis Angel CancelPhotos by Jeff Masamori

He takes a sip, and from the look on his face, you can tell he’s disappointed. He’s been lured into one of the many tourist-trap bars on the island that claims to have invented the Piña Colada but has been handed a canned pineapple and slushy machine-made concoction that feels like a far cry from an old world stroke of genius. The dissatisfied diner in question is Anthony Bourdain, and in a several-years-old episode of No Reservations, you can see the legend himself looking a bit let down by Puerto Rico’s cocktail offerings. A lot has changed.

Leslie Cofresí


These days, no thirsty wanderer has any excuse to sip a sub-par cocktail, thanks to Leslie Cofresí. He, too, was frustrated by the limits of the islands beverage scene and decided to do something about it. In 2013, Leslie and his team secured a huge, historic building in Old San Juan and transformed it into La Factoría—a sprawling, multi-room, bar-scene-within-a-bar that’s become the beating heart of Puerto Rico’s cocktail renaissance. The venue’s landed itself on the prestigious World’s 50 Best Bars list for three consecutive years and has allowed Leslie to further his mission of making Puerto Rico the Caribbean’s premier craft cocktail destination.

In the years since La Factoría’s rapid ascent, he’s opened Caneca, an open-air cocktail kiosk, and JungleBird, a distinctly Puerto Rican spin on the tiki bar in his hometown neighborhood of Santurce. JungleBird is where we first meet Leslie and get a peek into what’s made this bar a labor of love for him.

JungleBird

As fans of the tiki bar scene and the classic cocktails that emerged from it, Leslie and his team sought to pay homage without playing copycat. Rather than using the typical tiki design tropes of Polynesian idols, they researched iconography of the Taino tribe, Puerto Rico’s native people, and implemented indigenous motifs into the decor of the space. The result is a place that feels familiar, but in the details, is unlike anywhere else. And it goes without saying, but the drinks certainly don’t disappoint.
 



Adios Pantalones Cocktail Recipe


Adíos Pantalones Cocktail Recipe
 

This suggestively named, potent cocktail takes tiki tradition for a Latin American spin with the addition of pisco, a brandy-like spirit originating in Peru and Chile.

Ingredients

• 1 oz Vodka

• 1 oz Tabernero Pisco

• 1 oz Pineapple Juice

• 3/4 oz Simple Syrup

• 3/4 oz Lime Juice

• 1 Dash of Angostura bitters

Directions

Combine ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with pineapple and grated nutmeg.

Leslie Cofresí making Adios Pantalones
 



>>Next: Chef Dario’s Rosemary Arepas Recipe
 


 

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