Serving up a sensational mix of sensory delights in a beautiful old shoe store, Alquimico, brings some serious style to Cartagena's burgeoning nightlife scene.
Address: Calle de Colegio 34-37, Cartagena, Colombia
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Rating: Trip Advisor
This long-forgotten Republican ruin was given a new lease of life by owner, Jean Trinh, who converted it into the city's nocturnal epicentre.
For years, Colombians have been using their amazing fruits almost exclusively for their fruit juices, and drinking their liquor straight. It took Trinh to ask what happens if you let local fruits to mix with rum for a few months? Why, fabulous cocktails of course.
And so Cartagena's cocktail alchemist, Alquimico, was born.
Don't come here if you simply want to down aguardiente shots and formulaic cocktails until the early hours of the morning, because Alquimico turns drinking into a fine art.
For starters, they've hand-picked the best bartenders and mixologists to create a dynamic cocktail menu that's as imaginative and 'out there' as a Tim Burton film.
It's hard to choose favourites, but for our team of booze experts it was the Salitre, a heady concoction of ginger rum, pink salt and Tahiti lime and lemon that scored a perfect 10 across the board. It's a mind-blower, leaving you tingling in all the right places, just as cocktails should.
The focus on magnificent mixology explains why the bars commotion froths around the solid mahogany and marble 4-poster bar like a smoking hot chemistry experiment.
From there, you’ve also got a great head on view of the mysterious window display—a collection of jars containing fermented local fruit stewing in rum. It's like a less clinical, more exotic version of Damian Hirst’s medicine cabinet.
Lined up along the bar's untouched walls, a good-looking crowd spreads themselves luxuriously amongst the upholstered leather bonket benches, jamming along to the too-cool-for-school local DJs spinning a blend of soft electro and retro pop classics that have mysteriously flipped from cringe to cool as if by magic.
It's an ambitious project. A three-floored crumbling warehouse that's been gutted and finely re-tuned to tempt affluent hipsters that take five hours to achieve their sexy 'out of bed look.'
As well as having a bar and rooftop, there is a fantastic food menu offering you plenty of Asian-infused snacks to soak up all those units. So you can swing by at 20:00 and find yourself leaving six hours later.
You only have to come here on the weekend to see that Trinh's new nightlife experiment is working marvellously. By midnight, Alquimico's flavourful potions are working its magic on the crowd and there’s lots of dancing and schmoozing going on.
Turns out, much like finding your other half, the key to a good night out is all in the chemistry.
Cartagena's nerve centre serves up breathtaking colonial architecture, the city's top attractions, finest hotels, eateries and drinking dens as well as being the administrative and cultural heart of the city.
Centro has lost none of its importance thanks to the universal lure of its colonial pomp and the concentration of government buildings, hotels, tourist attractions, bars and restaurants in the area.
Cartagena's finest hotels and restaurants have taken over the uber-casas built by slave traders and Spanish plunderers in the 17th century.
The richest residents knocked up stunning two and three-storey mansions by the westernmost tip of the walled city, where they bagged the sea breeze and first whiff of pirates. Today only those at the very top of Colombia's rich list can afford to maintain these opulent houses in their original residential state.
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