Its Summer Time, Drink Up!
Gone are the days of vodka tonic and fake cranberry for mixing. Don’t get us wrong we do indulge in an occasional Cuba Libre or rum with fresh-squeezed juice (must be freshly-squeezed) but these days we tend to go for an old-fashioned, a classic twist on the Negroni or something prepared with lavender, lemongrass soda, cilantro honey or some wild ingredient we never thought would go well in a drink. You can say we’ve become a bit spoiled and we are ok with that, thanks to the booming cocktail scene in San Juan, Puerto Rico and the awesome bartenders behind the science of mixology.
One of our favorite whiskey and cocktail bars in Puerto Rico is Gallo Negro, also a restaurant, in the heart of the arts and music district of Santurce. With exposed walls, cool light fixtures, high ceilings and a black tile wall reminiscent of a NY subway station this super cool space might as well be in Williamsburg or the Lower East Side. Behind the bar, George Jenich prepares excellently balanced drinks of his own creation and twists on classic cocktails.
For the summer, George has created a cocktail menu that you must try. Composed of 10 cocktails, the menu is varied and appeals to all palates. Tequila, rum, whiskey, gin, bourbon and touches of aleppo pepper, cocchi Americano, tiki bitters, among others, help bring these cocktails to the next level. One thing we loved was the use of absinthe, an intense spirit with an herbal aroma. In the states, absinthe is taboo but in Switzerland Czech Republic and France, it has been a celebrated spirit for centuries and a favorite of poets and artists. Try the Death in the Afternoon, Ernest Hemingway’s absinthe with champagne. George’s version has a bitter soaked sugar cube, which makes the cocktail perfectly balanced and quite refreshing. If by chance you start seeing pink elephants and gnomes dancing on the bar, we regret to inform you that contrary to popular beliefs and urban myths, absinthe does not cause hallucinations.
The names are awesome too. We particularly love the (Pirates) Booty in Santurce and Ludacris’ Watermelon Yum Yum. I mean, who doesn’t want to try the Pirates Booty?! Made with rum, berry-lemongrass soda, coconut water and tiki bitters, its light and fruity, great for a hot summer day. For those of you that like your drinks on the tarty side, try the Corpse Reviver #2 made with gin, Cocchi Americano. Cointreau, lemon and get ready, absinthe! And for you classic folks, try the Gallo Negro, a play on the Manhattan with Woodford Reserve Bourbon (we are loving this bourbon) Genepy Des Alpes and Doulin Rouge Vermouth.
And lets not forget about the food! Executive Chef and French Culinary Institute Grad Maria Mercedes, delights the palate with her New-American menu. She’s not married to one particular cuisine which gives the patron access to a variety of cultures in this 47-seater in Santurce. The menu changes bi-weekly with whatever inspires Maria, but staples on the menu include the Pato a la 15, duck breast with ginger and acerola glaze on a bed of mushroom risotto and the Korean BBQ. The recent menu includes a shrimp boil (yay summer!) and a mushroom medley lasagna with marsala béchamel.
See you at Gallo Negro and cheers to the summer!
1106 Ponce de León Ave., San Juan, PR 00907
787.554.5445 [email protected]
Tue – Thu: 6:00 pm – 12:00 am
Fri: 5:00 pm – 12:00 am
Sat: 6:00 pm – 12:00 am
Sun: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm