El Arsenal is a bar of the times—literally. You have to swoop in at the right moment to catch your favourite cocktail before it vanishes forever. Here, the menu chops and changes with the breakneck speed of a late-night Tinder swiping session. Expect a new and surprising turnaround every month, and remember, once you’ve ‘left’ you can’t go back.
Address: Calle Arsenal 8B-19, Cartagena, Colombia
Rating: TIC User Rating
Rating: Trip Advisor
There are a number of imaginative combinations at work here, so roll up your sleeves and get ready to roll!
At the time of writing, we were lucky enough to be around for Sweet Chilli Julep season, an intoxicating blend of vodka, lemon, sweet chilli, basil and tonic water. Then there was the Paitilla Pink, a summery smash of watermelon, lime and basil served in a fish bowl glass.
Much like a summer one-hit-wonder, it proved difficult to get out of our heads (for all the right reasons). The Te-killa, combined tiki tequila, rum, Cachaca and fruit tea, and made us giddy when the barman set it on fire.
The Gringo Flamenco, made with white tequila, bled red and yellow like a watercolour painting. The list goes on.
Then there is the rum. Rum, rum everywhere! Over 70 bottles on the shelves, rum names on the blackboards, even the bar stools are the colour of the stuff.
If you just so happen to be looking for rum insights that run deeper than the bottom of a shot glass, then their 2-hr rum tasting classes come strongly recommended.
You’ll try eight different rums in shots and cocktails, munch on organic Colombian chocolate and be serenaded by the charismatic owner, Abraham Dau, on the intricacies of Colombia’s liquor of choice.
Location wise, it sits just outside the tourist triangle, so you have to work ever-so-slightly-harder to find it.
Head towards the convention centre and you’ll stumble across Calle Arsenal, the up-and-coming strip for bar crawlers who’ve moved on from the whole Plaza de la Trinidad thing.
Your navigation skills will be nicely rewarded. This is a rum box that likes to think outside the box. And if that’s not the ultimate holiday bar box ticker, we don’t know what is.
Cartagena's second historic walled city has gone from no-go to must-go in less than five years thanks to some of the city's hippest new bars and restaurants.
If Centro is Manhattan, Getsemani is more Brooklyn – an up-and-coming hipster hangout trying desperately to cling to its roots.
A little rougher around the edges than the already gentrified districts of Centro and San Diego and the lofty ambitions of the beach districts, Getsemaní offers a glimpse into the more unruly historic centre of the past.
A fiercely traditional barrio offering a heady mix of bars, dancing, affordable diners, hostels and hotels for backpackers and bohemian colonists looking to mix it up with the carefree locals.
Historically populated by merchants, smugglers and freed slaves thriving from activity in the port and main marketplace, Getsemaní has always been more raucous than the hoity centre with all its regal airs and graces.
Much of the district's newest bars, follow in the city's loudest traditions.
While much of the area's carefree population are direct descendants of the hell-raisers of yesteryear it is no longer the terrifying place that rich Cartageneros used to scare their children into staying at home.
Backpackers, never averse to roughing it for a cheap place to stay have braved the bogeyman with few problems for decades and a growing number of boutique hotels and hostels have followed their lead setting up shop in some of the bigger properties on Calle Guerrero and Calle del Carretero.
Uber-hotel chains, Viceroy and the Four Seasons have plans to kick the barrio into the stratosphere with stellar openings in 2017 / 2018.
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