Discover the Dominican capital through the eyes of Chivas Brand Ambassador Callum O'Donnell.

THE CHIVAS BRAND AMBASSADORS are located in various countries around the world, and their job is to inspire people with their youthful enthusiasm around Chivas Regal and Scotch whisky. Explore the unique contrasts and venues in different cities through the eyes of those whose job is to know the best.

SOMETHING DIFFERENT. A couple of years ago, I finally had enough – enough of piling on the layers and rubbing my hands together to keep warm. Rather than spend my days in freezing Edinburgh, I decided I needed a new vocation in a new (warm) location. Well, I definitely got what I wished for: the chance to live in the Dominican Republic as a Chivas Brand Ambassador. One year on, it’s the first time in my life I’ve felt immersed in a culture that is totally different from home. I’m also pleased to say that my hobbies have changed drastically: Nowadays, I spend my weekends on the beach with a Chivas cocktail in one hand and a good book in the other! 

SDcocktail
The most rewarding way to spend your free time in Santo Domingo. 

CARIBBEAN VIBES. The Dominican dialect was so difficult to grasp at first and I thought I’d forgotten all the Spanish I’d learnt at university. For instance, the famous phrase “como estas?” is “que lo que?” here, but I soon got the hang of it as I was making a new friend every day. The people here are warm (no pun intended) and they want to share absolutely everything with you, whether that’s a joke, their hospitality, or even some tips regarding the city. There’s lots of dancing (which I still haven’t learnt), lots of singing (which I’m still dreadful at) and lots of amazing food (which I haven’t stopped eating). 

CHASING THE CHALLENGE. Being a Chivas Brand Ambassador abroad means that you live outside of your comfort zone. When you start to find yourself getting comfortable, it often means that you need to take the initiative, get your creative juices flowing, and seek a new challenge or try to make a new connection. Another aspect that I love about my job is that it’s shown me how imaginative I can be. Who’d have thought! 

A CONTRADICTORY CHARM. As the first European settlement of the New World, Santo Domingo embodies the contradictions central to the Dominican Republic’s charm. The heart of the city is La Zona Colonial, where the cobbled streets are lined with quaint restaurants and old cathedrals. A ten-minute taxi ride away and you are on Avenida Winston Churchill, where every night there is a party to be had and a salsa to be danced. And if you venture another ten miles from the capital, you’ll find yet another side of Dominican life, as people from the pueblos (small towns) often never leave or travel to other cities or countries and their culture remains nearly untouched.

Le-Capitol
Find a blend of Old World and New World architecture in the Colonial Zone.

There’s something for everyone in Santo Domingo, which is best described as a blend between an open-air museum, a skyscraper-filled city crossed with a seaside resort, and a thriving business centre that exudes a laid-back and affable spirit. A proper night out in Santo Domingo should represent the different vibes that can be found here, through different people, music and, of course, drinks. 

DREAMY COCKTAILS. Our night would begin where it began for the Spanish settlers, in La Ciudad Colonial (The Colonial City). Highly rated restaurant and bar Buche Perico mixes one of the best drinks in the city, Me Morí Soñando (I died dreaming). A popular Dominican beverage, this cocktail is a twist on the original non-alcoholic drink and combines fresh orange juice, a dash of lime, milk, and ice with Chivas Regal 12. Served in metal tumblers, this drink keeps us cool as we sit in the green gardens of Buche Perico and listen to their live saxophonist. 

me-mori-sonando
Me Morí Soñando from Buche Perico.

MOFONGO. A night on the town would not be complete without indulging in some of the Domincan’s famous Mofongo, a dish with roots in West Africa’s fufu. Plantain is mashed with garlic, fried and then filled with a variety of vegetables and meats. Right next door to Buche Perico, we’d stop by Jalao to try the nation’s favourite of Mofongo filled with avocado alongside a refreshing Chivas Collins, which we’d sip outdoors in front of the Catedral Primada de las Americas, listening to the traditional merengue music played by street artists there. 

Mofongo-Jalao
Jalao's Mofongo with a view of the Catedral Primada de las Americas.


SPEAKEASIES. As the night starts to cool down, our next stop is further into the city at one of the first speakeasies, Local 3. Strapped on to the side of a colmado, which is basically a winery with a dancefloor, you’d have to know about Local 3 to go to Local 3 as it’s hidden behind pulled-down shutters. Here we’d enjoy some live rock and roll before slipping into our dancing shoes and getting down to real business. 

SHAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT. A short walk from Local 3 brings us to La Fábrica (The Factory), where dancing is compulsory and Chivas moves by the bottle. Dominicans live to laugh, party and dance, and the rhythm of their music runs in their blood. Here, the combination of reggaetón, bachata and salsa will get anyone’s feet moving, so there is no choice but to find a dance partner, learn the steps and move with the rhythm as the night turns into morning. 

‘LA CAPITAL’. As the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas, you’ll find a seamless blend of Old World and New World charm in the Dominican capital. The UNESCO Heritage Site of the Colonial Zone is filled with old fortresses and cathedrals, which make way to sophisticated restaurants, luxury shopping boutiques, spotless beaches and buzzing nightlife venues peppered throughout the rest of the city.  

THE END. Whether it’s been beach bars, speakeasies or salsa parties, I’ve been lucky enough to share Chivas Regal with this vibrant country and its friendly people, one Chivas cocktail at a time. Cheers to another year ahead! 

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