Somewhere between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Colombians get together to “take onces” or as we would say in Spanish “tomar las onces”.  It is not unheard of that as a tourist you may be invited to “take onces” with someone.


Because of this, the priests at a Franciscan Church would take one shot of aguardiente to warm themselves up. They did this every evening as a group. As time went by, they realized they would get in trouble if people saw them drinking aguardiente, therefore they created a code word to inform the group that it was time to fight the cold.

What is tomar las onces in Colombia?

Tomar las onces is simply a term that is used to refer to the evening time to have a snack. Generally it may be at a coffee shop, a bakery or even at someone’s house. You may hear phrases like: “Te invito a tomar las onces” – I invite you to take onces with me or “Uy, este frío está como para tomarnos unas onces” – Yikes! This cold weather is perfect for us to take the onces or “ ¿Preparamos unas onces? – Should be prepared some onces?

Why is it called tomar las onces?

The story goes that back in the 20th century there was a group of priests that lived in Bogotá. Bogotá’s weather can be very cold and especially in the evening it can feel like it cuts you through your bones.

The code word stems from the number of letters on the word aguardiente (there are 11 letters which in Spanish is once). As time went by, this tradition became part of the Colombian culture. The aguardiente was replaced with hot chocolate, coffee, breads, pastries, desserts and is now a time for friends and family to get together and enjoy a bite. 

What do Colombians have for las onces?

For las onces, Colombians have hot chocolate, agua de panela, tinto (Colombian coffee) accompanied with cookies or almojábanas, pan de yuca, buñuelos, pan de queso, sweet breads, desserts or pastries like milhojas or obleas. 

Auga de Panela con queso
chocolate caliente

What is a Milhoja?

A milhoja is a Colombian a puff pastry dessert similar to a Napoleon. It is filled with custard or cream and caramel. In El Museo del Chocolate in Villa de Leyva, they add a slice of cheese to represent a traditional article of clothing of the region called la ruana.

What is an Oblea?

An Oblea is a wafer type cookie filled generally with caramel (arequipe). Sometimes you can have it with fruits and other fillings.

Why are las onces important in Colombia?

Tomar las onces – to take the onces is a special time for Colombians because they not only get to enjoy delicious warm food but it is also a time to spend time with family and friends. 

Where to go for las onces in Colombia?

There is no official place to go to take las onces in Colombia, however, bakeries and cafes are the places where most people get together to have las onces. 

What is a good place for las onces in Villa de Leyva, Colombia?

Villa de Leyva has so many incredible places to take las onces, but some of our favorite are: El Museo del Chocolate, La Galleta, Panadería Astral, and many of the coffee shops around the Plaza Mayor

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