While nightlife in Makati’s Poblacion district is still a pretty laid-back scene compared to other spots in the city (ahem, BGC), a bulk of the establishments that have opened in the area during the last five years have seen a trend moving away from the casual, relaxed neighborhood bars that Poblacion used to be known for.
A new cocktail bar in this part of town, however, is looking to offer exactly that.
Located on the quieter side of Poblacion along Makati’s P. Guanzon St. is Run Rabbit Run, which those casually driving in the area may just miss — since, aside from a minimalist logo stamped on a wall besides its entrance, there’s practically no other way to distinguish it from its surrounding buildings.
This was a conscious decision by its founders, who — since their soft opening in mid-May — have been letting the place grow organically through word-of-mouth.
“The idea for this bar was really to kind of create a friendly neighborhood bar, like a backyard bar…. So we don’t have any signs for now,” Airell Lam, one of the owners of Run Rabbit Run, told Coconuts Manila last week.
“So basically, when you come here, you just wanna feel like you’re in someone’s house,” he added.
The building where the bar is located was a four-story family house built in the 1970s that Lam and his business partners refurbished for about 10 months.
While the walls were varnished and reinforced with steel columns, they kept the original facade and incorporated much of the materials from the old structure in the renovation.
For example, the bar counter was made from wood found inside the original house.
The interiors were also decorated with furniture the owners bought from thrift shops around the city, giving the place an eccentric yet homey feel.
Adding to the ambiance is the music heard throughout the first and second floors of the building.
When Coconuts Manila visited Run Rabbit Run, the playlist jumped from hip-hop tunes like Big Daddy Kane’s Uncut, Pure to indie rock favorites like Phoneix’s 1901 and MGMT’s Electric Feel.
The music alone reflects the tastes of the crowd the bar is trying to appeal to — older millennials looking for a nightcap after work.
“[I]t sort of addresses this gap in the market where you sort of feel too young to be in like the titas and titos (aunts and uncle) bars which is usually restaurant bars right? And then you feel too old to be in other places like Fort Bonifacio or downtown Makati,” co-owner Michael Hearn said.
“[W]hat we wanna do is create that environment where, you know, you can catch up with friends, it’s comfortable, it’s calm, and you can sort of like unwind rather than wind up.”
Helping people unwind are Run Rabbit Run’s signature cocktails, which run PHP400/US$7.48 a pop. Our favorite was the Jessica Rabbit, a bourbon-based drink infused with cloves and star anise. It’ll hit the spot for people who love a good Old Fashioned, but the flavors are balanced enough so as not to scare off those who typically don’t order whiskey-based cocktails.
For added pyrotechnics, the glass is served in a gravy boat filled with dry ice, star anise, an orange peel, and a bottle of a water and vermouth mixture you’re meant to pour over the dry ice to create a smoky effect.
For a well-balanced cocktail, try the refreshing Chillin’ Like a Villain, made with gin, peach syrup, citrus, and a mist made from the Philippines’ national flower, the Sampaguita.
The cocktails were concocted by the team behind Bitters and Love, a bar in Singapore’s Telok Ayer neighborhood. Apart from Lam and Hearn, Run Rabbit Run is also part-owned by the owners of Bitters and Love, Beverly Yeoh and Ernest Goh.
“We want the Singapore staff to come here to train the guys here to kind of be like on the same level as everyone is in Singapore. And what’s gonna happen in the future is that we’ll actually cross trade between the Singapore bar and our bar here in the Philippines,” Lam said.
In Manila at the moment is Fiona Fernandez, the events and marketing director of Bitters and Love.
“[I]f you look at the menu, a lot of that [was] inspired by [the] Philippines… so it’s not just about Singapore, it’s about both countries coming together and producing flavors that you don’t get anywhere else,” she told Coconuts Manila.
Such cocktails include the Kaya Toast, which was originally only served in Bitters and Love. Named after the popular Singaporean breakfast, the drink is made with spiced rum, kaya jam, peach liqueur, citrus, egg white, and honey. It’s served in a mason jar with two pieces of toast topped with kaya jam.
While you probably won’t get through much of these (it’s pretty sweet), it’s a good dessert cocktail to have after a savory dinner.
Its Filipino counterpart, which is probably the most “Pinoy” item on the bar list, is the Halo-Halo. Again, it’s unlikely you’ll down more than one of these (it’s a lot to drink, and even if you tried, the crushed ice is not quite fine enough to do so), but it’s worth mentioning for its novelty.
The drink isn’t just “inspired” by the Filipino dessert halo-halo (“mix-mix”) — it *is* a halo-halo — complete with shaved ice, beans, sago (tapioca) and ube (purple yam) jam. The “mix,” however, includes rum, bourbon, vanilla liqueur, and coconut bitters.
“It’s not like ‘I wanna bring you to this cocktail bar because it’s so Japanese or it’s so London’… We wanna be true to our identity, we want to be a local bar in Manila. [We’re] your neighborhood local bar that believes in, you know, using local ingredients and giving that experience to tourists that comes here,” Fernandez said.
Run Rabbit Run is open from 6pm – 3am and is set to officially launch by the end of the month or in mid-July. It is located in 4991 P. Guanzon St., Makati City.