On a nondescript street, just steps from the busy souvenir stores, pubs, cigar shops and touristy restaurants of Old Town Santo Domingo, lies a teal building devoid of signage, but accented by a strikingly curved red door. It’s not immediately obvious that you’ve arrived, but push open the door and you’ll know you’ve found Maraca.
An almost otherworldly restaurant and bar, Maraca is a feast for the senses. A sprawling space featuring dramatic local art, lush plants and colourfully tiled floors clashing with equally bold wallpaper, Maraca is a visual cacophony in the best sense of the term. Bartenders shake and pour at an amazingly fast clip, working nonstop to keep up with the constant flood of orders for Espresso Martinis, Mezcal Mules and gin & tonics.
Maraca embodies the future of Santo Domingo, traditionally dubbed the “first city” of the Americas and an often-overlooked destination among those planning a visit to the Dominican Republic. Maraca caters to the growing upper middle class of well-heeled and impeccably dressed locals, who pack the bar looking for trendy and creative libations.
A 14-drink cocktail menu showcases Dominican spins on classic cocktails. There is an Old Fashioned made with Brugal Leyenda rum, which is available only for the local market. There’s also the Negroni Dominicano, a tropical Negroni that incorporates pineapple-infused vermouth, strawberry-infused Campari and, of course, rum. These warm weather interpretations of well-known cocktails will definitely put you into an upbeat mood.
The energy of Maraca is priceless and will be the template that Santo Domingo’s burgeoning bar scene will use to replicate for years to come.
—by Doris Sun