9 best cocktail bars in San Juan
As the home of the piña colada, it’s no surprise that San Juan’s cocktail scene is thriving. Riding the locavore wave, top mixologists combine local ingredients and innovative techniques to shake and stir artisan cocktails. Funky lounge bars, classy speakeasies and iconic drinking dens dot the city’s eclectic neighborhoods. They seve everything from umbrella-topped tiki sippers to artisanal cocktails that resemble a science experiment. Many of the Metro area’s best cocktail bars orbit La Placita de Santurce, a centuries-old farmers market that transforms into a lively nightlife hub after 5pm.
Covid advisory: Note that a curfew — from midnight until 5am — is currently in effect in Puerto Rico until February 2, 2022.
Located right on La Placita, this lively Cuban bar and restaurant has an eclectic vintage vibe. Landscape paintings are strewn across walls painted in rich burgundy and green tones, velvet sofas contrast with industrial metal bar stools and modern chandeliers illuminate original tiled floors. Order a perfectly muddled old fashioned or embrace the Hemingway theme and try a fruity or spicy mojito iteration. Recline on a French-style settee or head out onto the patio and take in the lively scene at La Placita. The menu features Puerto Rican and Cuban classic dishes, as well as seafood focused fusion fare, including zesty ceviche, tuna tuna tartare and whole red snapper served with mofongo.
Hours: Wed 4–10pm, Thurs–Sat 12pm–12am, Sun 12pm–9pm.
Unveiled less than a year before Hurricane María devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, La Penúltima was the brainchild of brothers Stephen and Christopher Hoppe. At its core, it’s a mixologist’s bar serving hand-crafted cocktails that focus on quality ingredients and balance of flavor rather than gimmicks. It’s a cool, welcoming space with an authentic vibe and a mixed crowd. In the wake of Hurricane Maria, the bar morphed into a community bar with locals of all ages dropping by for an ice cold beer, wine or even a coffee.
Hours: Tues–Sun 3pm–11:30pm
Owned by Roberto Berdecía of La Factoría fame, the funky JungleBird is known for its tiki-style cocktails. With inside and patio seating, a chilled vibe and wildly creative mixologists, it’s the perfect launchpad for exploring lively Placita de Santurce. Signature libations include Frida’s Visit to MOMA, a fruity tequila and cachaça-based concoction, and the Saturn, made with London Gin, passion fruit and lemon. The bar’s kitchen, Jungle BaoBao, is helmed by acclaimed local chef Paxx Caraballo Moll (check out his instagram) and serves delectable small plates defined as “Asian criollo.”
Hours: Tues—Sun, 4–10:30pm
When it opened in 2013, La Factoría ignited San Juan’s bar scene. Still hailed as one of the world’s best bars, with a cult following worldwide, it continues to earn its reputation as one of the best bars in San Juan. Gritty passageways connect six bars, each with a very different vibe and concept—hip nightclub, wine bar, salsa dance hall, intimate lounge and Cuban-inspired colmados (corner store)—unified by a shared passion for music, great conversation and masterpiece mixology. For visitors or locals who love salsa, this is THE place. If it all looks vaguely familiar, Factoría was one of the video locations for the iconic hit “Despacito.” Don’t be fooled by the entryway—if you feel like you’re entering the back door of a kitchen, you’re in the right place.
Hours: Daily, 11am–11pm
The elegant lobby bar of the storied Condado Vanderbilt Hotel, the VC Lounge is rich in history and ambience. Recline on a plush leather sofa or sink into a red velvet chair and just linger for a while over a perfectly executed cocktail. Hotel guests and locals mingle at the bar and share in breathtaking Atlantic views from the breezy patio—there’s no need to pretend you have a room upstairs. Arrive early for happy hour (5-7pm daily), grab a prime seat and try the Lady Rosemary, a smooth combination of Hendrick’s gin, Cointreau, lemon, lavender and egg white.
Hours: Daily, 4–11pm
Steps from Isla Verde’s beachfront, Patio de las Flores wows guests with its bold, tropical decor and convivial welcome. Every visitor receives a flower, setting the tone for vibrant cocktails conjured by charming bartenders. Expect Insta-worthy concoctions such as the showstopping Mojito Colada served in a fresh coconut and the sultry, tequila-laced La Llorona. The delectable tapas menu features tuna tartare, ceviche and slow roasted pork sliders.
Hours: Wed–Sun, 4–11pm
In the heart of Miramar, Bar La Unidad channels a genuine and sophisticated speakeasy vibe with dim lighting, leather banquettes and dark wood. Easy to miss, this hidden spot is concealed behind an unmarked door—look for the entrance to the restaurant “SODA” and it’s the second door to the left. Just ask around if you get lost. Expert mixologists offer playful riffs on classic tipples along with virtuoso artisanal variations; the memorable Cortadito combines bourbon, espresso and chocolate bitters garnished with white chocolate shavings. There’s also a well curated wine list partnered with a stellar menu of small bites and bar food. Parking is tricky, it’s best to Uber/taxi or walk from your hotel.
Hours: Tues–Sun, 4–12pm
A short stroll from Condado Lagoon, Antillano balances a low-key, eclectic vibe with superb mixology. The brainchild of Edrick Colón and Stephen Alonso—veterans of Puerto Rico’s cocktail and liquor industry—this unpretentious lounge showcases fresh Caribbean ingredients and flavors. Behind the bar, you’ll often find Edrick and Stephen putting their creative stamp on handcrafted cocktails. Still, it’s hard to go wrong with a traditional cosmopolitan.
Hours: Tues–Sun, 4–11pm.
A passion project years in the making, this hip cocktail bar and rum distillery located on photogenic Calle Tetuán was unveiled in 2021. Owners and rum connoisseurs Garrett Robinson and Derek Schwarz built Scryer from the rubble of an infamous prohibition-era storefront following Hurricane Maria. The bar’s eclectic decor and stellar cocktail menu draws stylish locals. Head up to the rooftop patio at sunset and try one of the signature libations; the Claude & Sherry is an innovative spin on a classic old fashioned and the Classy Lassie blends Scryer rum with Port wine, lemon and honey. Rum aficionados can tour the distillery (schedule online, $15) and sample rum direct from the Port and sherry finishing barrels.
Hours: Wed–Sun 12pm–1am.
Need help choosing? We get it. These bars are amazing and it’s hard to choose one, especially if you have limited time on the island. Use this map (and save it!) to find out which bar is closest to your stay.