It has been brought to the attention of the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation Board of Directors and The Spirited Awards committee chairs that there are questions and concerns surrounding an esteemed establishment in Puerto Rico being cited as a finalist of an International Spirited Award this year.
La Factoria, located in San Juan, Puerto Rico is a finalist for the “Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar,” category. The current geographic, cultural and political considerations surrounding Puerto Rico make this a nuanced and sensitive issue for many, and as such, we think it is important to be transparent and offer context around the decision to list La Factoria as an international candidate.
For us, the decision was geographically motivated and with the bar’s preference in mind. This year, there were many nominations for La Factoria in various categories, both American and International, including one from within La Factoria’s team — which was designated as an international nomination. This helped the governing committee make a deliberative decision for establishments situated in Puerto Rico to remain in International, rather than American, categories. We have also taken into consideration that Puerto Rican bars have been nominated in the International categories in past years.
For us, politics never entered the equation. Our primary concern is providing the ability for judges to vote ethically on every category and providing bars with a fair opportunity to be recognized. Judges can only vote for bars that they have been to and it became clear that it would be more appropriate for Puerto Rican bars to be judged alongside other bars in the Latin America and Caribbean region, where the judges have more familiarity with the cocktail culture of the region and greater access to the specific nominees.
In our discussion with La Factoria about this matter, they shared a poignant sentiment that resonated with us, “We believe we are a country with our own language, culture and idiosyncrasies. These cultural differences also express themselves in the way we work, interact and, at the end of the day, the places we draw inspiration to make our cocktails.”
We are thrilled to see La Factoria recognized this year on a global scale and it felt important to us to honor the way they chose to identify themselves during the open call for nominations process.
Charlotte Voisey, Chairperson of the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation’s Spirited Awards