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.
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.
If you’re looking to have a night out in Makati but don’t want to deal with the crowd in up-and-coming Poblacion, head on over to 20:20 in Don Chino Roces Ave. The place regularly books international DJs and alternative acts, is small but has a stylish retro feel, and is frequented by older millennials who don’t do clubs anymore.
For a twist on your usual margarita, try their Bastardized Pomelo Margarita, PHP350 (US$7) flavored with house-made pomelo (a local citrus fruit) syrup.
Address: 20A La Fuerza Plaza 1, 2241 Don Chino Roces Ave., Makati City
Didn’t know there was a jazz bar in the gated community White Plains, did you? Well there is, and you’ll thank us for telling you about it.
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, try In A Silent Way (price unavailable) a specialty cocktail with Yamazaki Whisky, Goldschlager, orange liqueur, and an apple slice.
Address: 2nd level, West, 42 Katipunan Ave., Quezon City
Alcohol By Volume (ABV)
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. We’d tell you to try their take on the classic gin drink bee’s knees, PHP360 (US$7.2) but if you want something more special, ask for their “bible” for more options. Their bartenders can also make you something totally new for any mood you’re in.
Address: 22 Jupiter Street, Bel Air, Makati City
Most 7-Elevens are essential pre-game stops, especially when you’re 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.
Try something familiar but still new when ordering from their cocktail list. We say give the Earl Grey Martini, a strong but delicate mix perfect as an after work drink.
Address: G/F, RCBC Savings Bank Corporate Center, 26th and 25th St., Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Taguig City
“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. You also need to make a reservation before going there, something the bar takes very seriously.
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.
Try their Cellar Door drink, PHP700 (US$14) made with spiced rum, lemon juice, bergamot syrup, orange bitters, and allspice-flavored liqueur. You can also ask the bartender to concoct a drink just for you. Their bar list is obviously pretty pricey, but it’s worth it for special occasions.
Address: 227 Salcedo St., Legazpi Village, Makati City
The Curator, which is behind Cyrano Wine Bar, is a hidden bar the specializes not only in cocktails but coffee as well. This means you can enjoy all the perks of a speakeasy, whatever beverage you’re craving for and during most times of the day.
During the day, try their Shake O What O, PHP160 (US$3.2) a coffee drink served in a champagne coupe made with espresso, cold brew coffee, milk, and coco syrup. At night, ask their bartenders to mix you one of their cocktails like the Still Hurting, PHP400 (US$8) their version of a negroni, made with tequila, vermouth, Campari, and orange bitters.
Address: 134 Legazpi St. cor. Palanca St., Legaspi Village, Makati
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 account.
Try their Orange You Lovely, PHP 320 (US$6.4) cocktail. It consists of gin, elderflower, orange juice, orange bitters, lemon, and honey for something refreshing and just a tad floral.
Address: Corinthian Plaza 121 Paseo de Roxas corner Legaspi Street, Makati City
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 you’ll just be sitting around, sipping on your drink, and twiddling your thumbs. The place gets really packed towards the end of the night, which is when people start dancing, too.
You’re supposed to “find” Finders Keepers yourself, but if you’re ready to give up here’s a hint: as you enter Black Market, you don’t have to look far, just keep right.
For a combination of two of the best drinks ever, try their Beergherita, PHP400 (US$8); a couple of those is all you need for a great night.
Address: Warehouse 5, La Fuerza Plaza, 2241 Don Chino Roces Ave., Makati City
Hotel Bar is for everyone 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 cocktail called Pineapple, PHP370 (US$7.4) a spicy concoction made of local Don Papa rum, green tea, basil, and chili. And since Hotel Bar is hidden inside the Pink’s Hot Dogs in Shangri-La at the Fort, you can enjoy this with a side of chili cheese fries, PHP280 (US$5.6).
Address: Shangri-La at the Fort, BGC, Taguig City
LIT Manila sets itself apart from other speakeasies in the metro because it specializes in Japanese whisky. That means you get to pick from a long list of different Japanese whiskies including Suntory, Nikka, Kirin, Ichiro’s Malt, and Mars Komagatake.
An order could set you back anywhere from PHP195-1,985 (US$3.9-39.7) depending on the brand and size of order you choose.
Address: G/F, Serendra, BGC, Taguig City
Mandalay Whisky and Cigars
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 it’s 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 you get a classic whiskey sour that can go anywhere from PHP580-890 (US$11.6-17.8) depending on the whiskey brand you choose.
Address: OPL Building, 100 Don Carlos Palanca, Legazpi Village, Makati City
Ocean’s Telephone Co.
Ocean’s Telephone Co. or OTC is the type of place you’d want to go to for your birthday night out with friends. It’s small enough so it feels intimate but still leaves room for chance meetings with people you’ve only stalked on Facebook. 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).
Address: Forbes Town Center, Burgos Circle, BGC, Taguig City
Prohibition Liquor Lounge
Believe it or not, this lounge can be found inside a shopping mall. Enter Dillingers 1903 in Greenbelt 3 and find Prohibition Lounge behind a fire exit. 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. You can order a glass of wine for PHP270 – 300 (US$5.4 – 6).
Address: Level 3, Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Greenbelt, Makati City
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.
Address: Unit 5, Paseo Parkview Tower, San Augustin cor. Sedeno Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City
Because traffic in Manila can get really bad, we understand that you may want to skip going to Makati and BGC altogether. For those living in the north, try going to RM-16 instead. It’s a bar hidden within the Titto’s Latin BBQ and Brew lot in Kapitolyo.
It’s got everything you’re looking for in a speakeasy: it’s small, has good music, and prepares 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 PHP210 (US$4.2) and customized cocktail for PHP250 (US$5)
Address: 16 E Capitol Dr., Pasig City
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.
Stay in their terrace area for fresh air and a view of the city while you enjoy a glass of strawberry and kiwi mojito, PHP270 (US$5.4) and an order of truffle fries with sriracha dip, PHP245 (US$4.9)
Address: 2/F, Oakridge Plaza, Paseo de Magallanes, Magallanes, Makati City
The Thirsty Barber
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, PHP225 (US$4.5) made with grapefruit, bacon, Johnnie Walker, and Campari.
If you’re on a tight budget, check out their classic cocktails list with items all priced at PHP180 (US$3.6) or get an ice cold bottle of San Miguel for PHP60 (US$1.2) — cheap for a bar of this kind.
Address: 200 Wilson St., San Juan City
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