Best hidden bars in Metro Manila: Where to find whiskey cocktails, mojitos, beergheritas

A few years ago, speakeasies were a new concept in Manila, but today, they’re arguably even more popular than your regular pub. Inspired by hidden bars during the 1920s prohibition era in the United States, speakeasies here are usually behind nondescript landmarks like a phone booth, a convenience store storage room, or rooms inside bigger clubs.

READ: Brunch in Manila: Where to find the best eggs Benedict, avocado toast, waffles, and mimosas

But no matter where you find them, most have a few things in common: good music, a more intimate crowd, and craft cocktails.

For nights when good drinks and even better company are high on your list of requirements, check out this rundown of the best speakeasies and hole-in-the-wall bars in Metro Manila. We’ll also let you in on what cocktail to try from each.

20:20

Photo from 20:20 Facebook page.

Those looking to have a night out in Makati but don’t want to deal with the crowd in up-and-coming Poblacion can head on over to 20:20 in Don Chino Roces Ave. The place regularly books international DJs and alternative acts and is frequented by those in the Manila underground scene.

For a twist on the usual margarita, their Bastardized Pomelo Margarita (PHP350/US$7) flavored with house-made pomelo (a local citrus fruit) syrup is worth a try.

20:20 is at 20A La Fuerza Plaza 1, 2241 Don Chino Roces Ave., Makati City
Open 7pm4am, Wednesday –  Saturday
Phone: (63) 917-634-8764

78-53-86

Photo from 78-53-86 Facebook page.

No one would think that there’s a jazz bar inside the gated community White Plains, but there is. And it’s worth checking out.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Jay Amante, the bar’s owner, said the place was named after his family’s old telephone number. He initially only opened it to create space for his vinyl collection. Today, an entire wall inside the bar displays about 10,000 records.

But people don’t go there just for the music, whiskey also reels them in. Aside from classics like the whiskey sour and old fashioned, they also have signature drinks like In A Silent Way (price unavailable), a specialty cocktail with Yamazaki Whisky, Goldschlager, orange liqueur, and an apple slice.

78-53-86 is at 2nd level, West, 42 Katipunan Ave., Quezon City
Open 3:30pm – 12:30am, Sunday – Saturday
Phone: (632) 819-9297

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

Photo from ABV Facebook page.

Alcohol By Volume, more commonly known as ABV, has got to be the bar that’s most committed to the speakeasy theme. It can be found behind burger joint Lazy Bastard and has interiors that transport you right into the 1920s: black and white tiled flooring, dark leather seats, and brick walls.

But the homage goes beyond aesthetic. Cocktails from ABV are also a must try and are inspired by the time period’s creative mixes. They have classic drinks like the gin cocktail Bee’s Knees, PHP360 (US$7.2) but also special mixes available from their “bible.” Their bartenders can also whip up something totally new for whatever mood a customer might be in.

ABV is at 22 Jupiter Street, Bel Air, Makati City
Open 6pm – 2am, Sunday – Saturday
Phone: (63) 917-704-0942

Bank Bar

Photo from Bank Bar Manila Facebook page.

Most 7-Elevens are essential pre-game stops, especially for those looking to get buzzed for cheap, but this one at The Fort is a destination on its own. Behind the convenience store storage room is Bank Bar — named after the bank building it’s in — a speakeasy with some of the best cocktails in the metro.

While the place obviously takes inspiration from art-deco styles, the vibe is also kind of modern, with its marble counters and contemporary art flashed on the walls.

Their Mad Hatter Club (PHP390/US$7.48) is a strong but delicate cocktail made with Earl Grey-infused gin, lavender, honey, egg foam, Angostura bitters, and brandied cherry. It’s perfect as an after work drink and is the one to pick for something familiar but still new.

Bank Bar is at G/F, RCBC Savings Bank Corporate Center, 26th and 25th St., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Open 5pm – 3am, Sunday – Saturday
Phone: (632) 801- 4862/(63) 917-857-0852

Blind Pig

Photo from Blind Pig website.

“Blind pig” is slang for speakeasies and is the name of this secret bar in Makati. It’s so secretive that their website doesn’t even have photos of the place, just this illustration. Reservations are also required for all guests.

It’s all worth it once you’re inside, though. Blind Pig is more exclusive, even compared to other hidden bars in the city, and is perfect for intimate gatherings.

Their Cellar Door drink, PHP700 (US$14) is a good pick for first-timers. It’s made with spiced rum, lemon juice, bergamot syrup, orange bitters, and allspice-flavored liqueur. Guests can also ask the bartender to concoct them a drink. Their bar list is obviously pretty pricey, but it’s worth it for special occasions.

Blind Pig is at 227 Salcedo St., Legazpi Village, Makati City
Open 6pm – 2am, Sunday – Thursday; 6pm – 3am, Friday – Saturday
Phone: (63) 917-549-2264/(632) 478-6990

The Curator

Photo from The Curator Facebook page.

The Curator, which is behind Cyrano Wine Bar, is a hidden bar the specializes not only in cocktails but coffee as well. This means customers can enjoy all the perks of a speakeasy, whatever beverage they’re craving for and during most times of the day.

During the day, their Shake O What O, PHP160 (US$3.2) is worth a try. It’s a coffee drink served in a champagne coupe made with espresso, cold brew coffee, milk, and coco syrup. At night, guests can ask bartenders to mix them one of their cocktails like the Still Hurting, PHP400 (US$8) their version of a Negroni, made with tequila, vermouth, Campari, and orange bitters.

The Curator is at 134 Legazpi St. cor. Palanca St., Legaspi Village, Makati City
Open 7am – 6pm, Sunday; 7am – 2am, Monday – Thursday; 7am – 3am, Friday – Saturday
Phone: (63) 916-355-4129

Update: This venue is now CLOSED

The Exit

As its name suggests, The Exit or simply Exit Bar can be found behind a door with an exit sign inside the Plaza Cafe in the Corinthian Plaza building. Like Blind Pig, it also doesn’t have a website or any social media accounts.

Their Orange You Lovely, PHP320 (US$6.4) cocktail consists of gin, elderflower, orange juice, orange bitters, lemon, and honey for something refreshing and just a tad floral.

The Exit is at Corinthian Plaza 121 Paseo de Roxas corner Legaspi Street, Makati City

Finders Keepers

Photo from Finders Keepers MNL Facebook page.

A bar within a club, Finders Keepers is the smaller, chiller version of Black Market, the club it’s housed inside. That’s not to say that people are just sitting around, sipping on drinks, and twiddling their thumbs. The place gets really packed towards the end of the night, which is when people start dancing, too.

People are supposed to “find” Finders Keepers themselves, but for those ready to give up, here’s a hint: upon entering Black Market, there’s no need to look far, just keep right.

Their Beergherita (PHP390/US$7.48) is a combination of two favorites (beer and Margarita, duh); a couple of those is all anyone needs for a great night.

Finders Keepers is at Warehouse 5, La Fuerza Plaza, 2241 Don Chino Roces Ave., Makati City
Open 8pm – 4am, Wednesday – Saturday
Phone: (632) 403-5019/(63) 917-634-8764

Hotel Bar

Photo: @pinksmanila/IG.
Photo: @pinksmanila/IG.

Hotel Bar is for anyone who wants good music, good cocktails, and a small space to just hang out with the “core group.” Owned by the people behind Wildflour, the place has a similar upscale-but-casual vibe.

Try their Pineapple Gimlet, PHP370 (US$7.4) made with gin, lime, and pineapple. And since Hotel Bar is hidden inside the Pink’s Hot Dogs in Shangri-La at the Fort, guests can enjoy this with a side of chili cheese fries, PHP280 (US$5.6).

Hotel Bar is at Shangri-La at the Fort, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Open 6pm – 2am, Sunday – Thursday; 6pm – 3am, Friday – Saturday
Phone: (632) 772-1147

LIT Manila

Photo from LIT Manila Facebook page.

LIT Manila sets itself apart from other speakeasies in the metro because it specializes in Japanese whiskey. That means guests get to pick from a long list of different Japanese whiskeys including Suntory, Nikka, Kirin, Ichiro’s Malt, and Mars Komagatake.

An order is priced anywhere from PHP195-1,985 (US$3.9-39.7), depending on the brand and serving size.

LIT Manila is at G/F, Serendra, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Open 6pm – 1am, Monday – Saturday
Phone: (632) 832-1600/(63) 917-510-0014

Mandalay Whisky and Cigars

Photo from Mandalay Whisky and Cigars Facebook page.

Mandalay is a hidden bar in Makati’s Legazpi Village that is frequented by people who appreciate the finer things in life. Compared to The Belle & Dragon, the pub it’s hidden in, Mandalay’s drink menu is quite pricey, but for those who want a place that’s exclusive and chic, it may be worth it.

Like The Belle & Dragon, Mandalay has an “East meets West” vibe reflected in everything from its modern Asian decor to its menu items like the ika karaage (fried curry calamari) (PHP395 /US$7.9).

They have an extensive list of whiskeys, so for a cocktail, we suggest the classic whiskey sour that can go anywhere from PHP660-890 (US$12.67-17.08) depending on the whiskey brand.

Mandalay is at OPL Building, 100 Don Carlos Palanca St., Legazpi Village, Makati City
Open 6pm – 3am, Sunday – Saturday
Phone: (632) 625-8818

Ocean’s Telephone Co.

Photo from Ocean’s Telephone Co. Facebook page.

Ocean’s Telephone Co. or OTC is the type of place for a  birthday night out with friends. It’s small enough so it feels intimate but still leaves room for chance meetings with people you only ever see online.

The bar is behind  — you guessed it — a telephone booth on the second floor of the restaurant Frank & Dean and is located in the chill (but still eventful) side of BGC, Burgos Circle.

For a truly good (read: buzzed) birthday party (or any night out, really), go straight for their Long Island Iced Tea (PHP320/US$6.4).

Ocean’s Telephone Co. is at Forbes Town Center, Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Open 7pm – 3am, Thursday – Saturday
Phone: (632) 625-8818

Prohibition Liquor Lounge

Photo from Prohibition Liquor Lounge Facebook page.

Believe it or not, this lounge can be found inside a shopping mall. Prohibition Lounge is behind a fire exit in Dillingers 1903, a bar in Greenbelt 3. The place itself makes up for the not-so-glamorous entrance with its lush couches and sleek metal cocktail tables.

The best part is, their drink prices aren’t that bad, especially for a place in business district Makati. A glass of wine costs PHP270 – 300 (US$5.4 – 6).

Prohibition Lounge is at Level 3, Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Greenbelt, Makati City
Open 6pm – 2am, Sunday – Saturday
Phone: (632) 621-6790

Update: This venue is now CLOSED

Red Rabbit

Bugsy’s is a casual dining bar that’s something of an institution for Manila yuppies who get together after work hours, but inside its Salcedo Village Branch in Makati is a bar that offers a totally different vibe.

Red Rabbit, a speakeasy behind the Bugsy’s smoking area, is less “hangout” and more “night out.” It has black wall panels with white borders, black tables with white leather seats, and dimmed yellow lights that set the scene.

Don’t go there without trying one their artisanal cocktails like the Little Bit Country, PHP300 (US$6), made with bourbon, maraschino liqueur, maple syrup, lemon juice, chili, and angostura bitters.

Red Rabbit is at Unit 5, Paseo Parkview Tower, San Augustin cor. Sedeno Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City

RM 16

Photo from RM-16 Facebook page.

Because traffic in Manila can get really bad, those living in the north may want to skip going to Makati and BGC altogether. Instead, they can go to RM-16, a bar hidden within the Titto’s Latin BBQ and Brew lot in Kapitolyo, Pasig City.

It’s got everything one looks for in a speakeasy: an intimate setup, good music, and artisanal cocktails. What we love about it though is how it’s not overpriced like other bars in busier parts of the metro.

Get a Cucumber Caipirinha for PHP220 (US$4.22) or a customized cocktail the bartenders will be happy to create.

RM-16 is at 16 E Capitol Dr., Pasig City
Open 5pm – 12mn, Monday – Thursday; 5pm – 2:30am, Friday – Saturday
Phone: (63) 917-812-2243/(63) 998-857-7848

Selu’s Bar

Photo from Selu’s Bar Facebook page.

Selu’s in Paseo de Magallanes is like a really fancy neighborhood bar. Since it’s located right outside Magallanes Village, it’s great for spontaneous plans for those living in the area, but is still special enough for birthdays and reunions. It’s also technically in Makati but is away from more crowded areas.

Their terrace area is great to feel a light breeze during cooler months while admiring the city skyline. Try the strawberry and kiwi mojito (PHP270/US$5.4) and an order of truffle fries with sriracha dip (PHP245/US$4.9)

Selu’s is at  2/F, Oakridge Plaza, Paseo de Magallanes, Magallanes, Makati City
Open 5pm – 2am, Monday – Saturday
Phone: (63) 922-646-4158/(63) 906-157-0503

The Thirsty Barber

Photo from Thirsty Barber Facebook page.

Another neighborhood bar, but this time in the north, Thirsty Barber can be found in Greenhills’ Wilson St., which is lined with restaurants of all kinds.

It’s housed inside a building that has a deli, an East Asian convenience store, and a Korean bakery, and as if the location isn’t random enough, the bar itself is also hidden inside a barbershop.

Try their signature cocktail Please Don’t Tell, PHP235 (US$4.51) made with grapefruit, bacon, Johnnie Walker, and Campari.

Those on a tight budget can check out their classic cocktails list with items all priced at PHP190 (US$3.64) or get an ice cold bottle of San Miguel for PHP65 (US$1.25) — cheap for a bar of this kind.

The Thirsty Barber is at 200 Wilson St., San Juan City
Open 6pm – 2am, Sunday – Saturday
Phone: (63) 977-360-8130/(63) 995-457-2594

The Odd Seoul

Photo: Gaja Korean Kitchen/FB.
Photo: Gaja Korean Kitchen/FB.

Behind a wall of soju bottles in Gaja Korean Kitchen is a bar called The Odd Seoul. The Korean theme continues inside the speakeasy that counts a huge map of Seoul’s subway as wall decor.

They also have Korean-inspired finger food like the K-Dog (PHP90/US$1.73 per stick), a corndog covered with fries and served with Korean barbecue sauce, and the Skewered Bulgogi Wagyu (PHP140/US$2.70 per stick), beef glazed with soy sauce, sugar, rice wine, and sesame oil.

The cocktails are also in on the theme, with offerings like the Kimchi Sour (PHP295/US$5.68) made with soju, kimchi, almond, lemon juice, egg white and dried rose.

The Odd Seoul is at 2/F, 8445 Kalayaan Ave., Poblacion, Makati City
Open 4pm – 12mn, Sunday; 4pm – 2am, Monday – Thursday; 4pm – 3am, Friday – Saturday
Phone: (63) 906-493-0799

Int. Bar

int bar quezon city cubao hidden
The Say Anything cocktail. (Photo: Int.Bar/FB)

A relatively new addition to Quezon City’s hip enclave Cubao X is Int. Bar, a film-inspired speakeasy hidden inside a photo booth.

They have an extensive cocktail list with clever drink names based on film titles. There’s Eternal Sunshine (PHP300/US$5.78) made with cacao nib-infused Reposado tequila, Aperol, pineapple, lime, and agave nectar; Citizen Kane (PHP250/U$4.82), a mix of The Kraken spiced rum, Bacardi Carta Blanca, clove tincture, ginger syrup, and candied ginger; and the Say Anything (PHP350/US$6.74) made with Sailor Jerry Carribean Rum, Disaronno Amaretto, Golden Falernum, soda, egg white, and lime.

Int. Bar is at Cubao Expo, General Romulo Ave., Cubao, Quezon City
Open 5pm – 1am, Tuesday – Sunday
Phone: (63) 917-110-1415/(63) 917-853-3726

Prima Facie

Photo: Prima Facie MNL/FB.
Photo: Prima Facie MNL/FB.

Another joint in Quezon City that can serve up a mean cocktail is Prima Facie, a bar hidden inside Vitto’s Wine Bar and Restaurant.

They have classic drinks like the whiskey sour (PHP330/US$6.36) but they’re also ready to experiment with signature drinks such us the Fake Love (PHP340/US$6.55) made with watermelon, agave, and chili, and Chuckie’s Nightmare (PHP320/US$6.16), cocoa-infused vodka with Kahlua, coffee, and amaretto.

Prima Facie is at 114 Scout Lozano St. cor. Tomas Morato, Quezon City
Open 6pm – 12mn, Sunday; 6pm – 1am, Monday – Thursday; 6pm – 2am, Friday – Saturday
Phone: (632) 374-2299 

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in November 2017, but the Coconuts crew is bringing it back from the archives since the information it contains remains relevant and useful. Rest assured, we’ve reviewed and updated it to make sure this oldie but goodie will still serve you well.

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