Puerto Rico has become my home away from home and since I plan destination bachelorette parties to Star Island, you can bet that I know the best places for priming your confidence levels before heading to Nuyorican Cafe for some sexy salsa dancing! My favorites spots are gritty, filled with character and are practically next door to each other. They serve up the best artisan cocktails from rum crafted on the island! Rum isn’t your thing? That’s okay… they’ve got cocktail bliss blended with other spirits! Let’s get to drinking!
If you are looking for for a Pina Colada head to Barrachina’s because El Batey and, its prison bar enclosed facade, do not permit umbrella drinks! This is a spot for imbibing local rum and $2 beers! You are in rum paradise so taste a few of the liquid straight-up? Even if you don’t like rum, you need to swing in just for the history of the seedy little spot.
El Batey is one of the last watering holes journaled by the man, the legend, Hunter S. Thompson in his novel The Rum Diary. Thompson wasn’t alone in his visits, the Rolling Stones have graced this graffiti-laden cave of a place. Once you step into the rust-colored building your eyes won’t know which signature to focus on! The walls are covered in names and doodles from patrons. You’ll also find currency from patrons – even the Rolling Stones have enjoyed this spot!
You won’t find a DJ spinning tunes here. The entertainment is all about the company you are with and what their preference is on the 25 cent per song jukebox! And, the tunes will be playing until the early hours of 7 am!
Hours: 11 am – 7 am | Mon – Fri
3pm – 7 am | Sat – Sun
Drink This: RUM!
Preferably of the Puerto Rican Variety: Don Q, Bacaradi, Barillito
La Factoria has been named one of the Best 50 bars in the World in the world and with one visit you’ll understand why. One of my favorite places for a craft cocktail in an atmosphere blooming with a welcoming spirit backdropped with shabby walls. You won’t find La Factoria by a posted sign but know you are at the right place when you’ve reached a corner bar serving a Lavender Mule (my personal favorite).
At first glance, the shabby facade and interior may give you pause! Go in anyway! As local artists and music lovers start to fill the room, the energy will grow more welcoming and exciting. The craft cocktails are without a doubt the most beautiful flavor profiles so be sure to watch your laid-back Puerto Rican bartenders carefully craft your drinkable work of art! They use fresh ingredients that speak to your taste buds in an indescribable way!
In addition to drinking, they do have dancing! Don’t be surprised when a Puerto Rican whisks you onto the dance floor for a salsa as soon as the band begins at 10 pm!
Hours: 6 pm – 4 am | Thursday – Saturday
Drink These: Lavender Mule | Old Fashioned
Unless you’ve chosen to stay at an Airbnb or Charming Colonia-Style hotel within the blue cobblestone glory that is Old San Juan, you are going to need transit to take you to Old San Juan! I recommend using the Uber App or asking your hotel concierge to organize a taxi or private car. Depending on your location in San Juan the taxi fare should cost between $10-20 USD.
Plan to arrive early, enjoy a beautiful dinner in Old San Juan as well to be beat the bottlenecking that occurs on the two roads leading to the peninsula OSJ sits on. The two restaurants I highly recommend are: Verde Mesa and Barrachina.
Cynthia is a recovering Travel Director turned TV host, creator of Her Drive Podcast, and lover of all things adventure, unicorns, van life, and wellness-focused. She can be found dining wherever octopus is on the menu.