Going 10 Rounds with Top Bartender Roberto Berdecia

What do you like to drink after a shift? “Water, beer and rum. In that particular order!”

What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? ““Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond.”

After all these years bartending and creating drinks, do you still enjoy going out to bars? “Of course. I learn from everyone even if it is things that I don’t want to do.”

Name the first good drink you ever drank and where you had it. “The cocktail that change my mind to a cocktail world was the Last Word and I drank it during a drinks competition in New Delhi, India, where I was representing Puerto Rico.”

What book on cocktails or spirits is your go-to resource? “It all depends on what I need:

What’s your favorite cocktail and food pairing? “An Old-Fashioned and BBQ.”

What drink are you most proud of creating? “The Tropical Bitter: Don Q Añejo Rum infused with pineapple, coconut fat washed Campari and Spanish vermouth.”

Is there one person (dead or alive) you’d like to make a cocktail for? “There are a couple of people I wish I could make a cocktail for. Some from outside of our industry and some from inside our industry. It’s more of the conversation that’s going to be developed than the actual cocktail: David Wondrich, Will Smith and Lin-Manuel Miranda.”

What’s your favorite shot-and-a-beer combination? “Becherovka and IPA.”

What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “My computer and a jigger.”

Roberto Berdecia is co-owner of Puerto Rico’s acclaimed Jungle Bird and La Factoría, which was a James Beard Award semi-finalist this year.

Interview has been condensed and edited.

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