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Rum Journal: A Hidden Bar on the Caribbean’s Oldest Street

Above: the lobby bar at the Hostal Nicolas de Ovando in Santo Domingo (All photos by CJ)

This bar isn’t very old. But the building is.

It’s been aging for half a millennium, a place that was once home to the man who founded this first city in the New World.



Above: Hostal Nicolas de Ovando in Santo Domingo

It’s hidden away under the arched ceilings of the historic building, like many things in the Colonial Zone of the Dominican Republic’s capital.

It has no name, just “lobby bar,” as the barman, Francisco, informs me.


But while the little bar is nameless, it has a special selection of rums, if you ask to open the upper shelf, the one that needs the key.

There is Rhum St James, Rhum JM, Mount Gay Extra Old, Republic. Then the Dominican stalwarts: Brugal 1888, Barcelo Imperial.

All good, all appropriate for sipping as you peer out the arched doorway toward the night, toward the blue light of the pool.

This is a wonderful little hotel on Calle Las Damas, the first paved street in the New World, a hotel that’s been exquisitely restored with modern edges.


Here at the lobby bar, it doesn’t really matter what you choose, though, because all the rums are good. And because you’re really drinking in something else.


— CJ

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