Here’s a rolling list* of our favorite bars around the Philippines capital:
ABV. It’s a classic oldie, but — and one of the local industry pioneers — which very much reminiscent of bars in Australia, having set a high standard for every other bar to try and adhere to. ABV, 22 Jupiter Street, Bel Air, Makati City; www.abv.ph
Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen. “’Agimat’ is a traditional charm used by local ancestors for protection or strength, so our interiors are designed as if it’s an albularyo or witch doctor’s workshop,” explains Cassie Laus, who runs the brand, marketing and operations for Agimat. The Filipino cocktail bar and resto sources all their ingredients locally. It highlights a different province every four months through unique ingredients from the area. Until September, Agimat is featuring ingredients endemic to the province of Batangas. Don’t miss their Burong Maliputo, a dish of fermented freshwater trevally fish with sago and local salsa and Ritual ng Agimat, a gin-based and presented with a little fire and theatrics by liquid chefs in masks. Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen; Alfonso cor Fermina Sts, Brgy Poblacion, Makati City; open 6pm to 10pm; fb.com/agimatbar
Dr Wine. Dr Wine prescribes premium wines, mostly from Spain and France; an all-you-can-wine happy hour is on from 5pm to 7pm every day. fb.com/drwinemanila
Kartel. Sunset sessions in the city take on a beachy vibe here, thanks to the bare-wood finish of the furniture and bamboo bar; the bar’s signature Filipino Colada is a blend of Filipino rum, coconut syrup and pineapple juice that makes the setting very relaxing.
Ñ. Right above ABKD restaurant in Poblacion, this bar features the most local of local ingredients in its house cocktails: calamansi and Red Horse beer. fb.com/abkd.ph
Run Rabbit Run. Inspired by Alice in Wonderland, Run Rabbit Run is a “place of escape,” says co-owner Mike Hearn, who is in the construction industry. “RRR allows you to completely get lost in a four-zoned ‘rabbit hole’ where you’ll feel very much like home and everyone from all walks of life is a friend.” Indeed, Mike co-owns RRR with a motley crew, brought together by their passion for the place: Airoll Lamb, who is in the marketing biz, plus one of locals’ favorites in Singapore — Bitters and Love’s Ernest Goh and Beverly Yeoh — (they also run Free The Robot cafe along Telok Ayer street). Don’t miss their Dirty Dog — homemade chili con carne with their special sauce and Jessica Rabbit, a bourbon-based visual delight (it smokes!) with spices, vermouth, oleo saccharum and star anis. Run Rabbit Run; 4991 P. Guanzon st, Makati; fb.com/runrabbitrun.ph
The Belle & Dragon. It has a great atmosphere and the personable staff go the extra mile, and it features a ‘secret’ whiskey lounge called Mandalay. The Belle & Dragon, 100 Carlos Palanca Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City; fb.com/thebelleanddragon
The Curator. Listed in every edition of the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list so far (from 2016 to 2018), this speakeasy is worth the drop-in for custom-made, thoughtful cocktails. (Full disclosure: David Ong owns this bar.) Since opening in 2013, The Curator has built a reputation for cocktail and coffee geekery, where drinks are made with obsessive precision and, if so desired, served with encyclopedic annotation. The menu changes constantly, according to what ingredients are locally available and what the bartenders feel customers should be experiencing at any given time. fb.com/thecuratorcoffeeandcocktails
The Workshop. The leather shop storefront belies delicious serves of their signature gin buko, made with Ginebra gin and fresh coconut juice to balance it out. fb.com/theworkshopmnl
Bank Bar. While Bank Bar, accessed through a small utility door inside a 7-Eleven, isn’t new, it deserves a special mention for its latest bar chow: grab a bowl of sisig (sizzling pork jowl) and rice from Manam along with your drink of choice. fb.com/bankbarmnl
LIT Manila. Japanese whiskey is such a beautiful expression of what can be done when one tradition meets another. Also their concierge Francis Tosei, is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge on all things whiskey. LIT Manila, G/F Serendra, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig; fb.com/litmanila
Int Bar. The latest haunt along Cubao Expo is stealthily disguised as a photo booth. But behind the curtain is a menu that features some strong and classy cocktails.
San Juan city
Thirsty Barber. Made by the same guys behind the gents’ barbershop Felipe and Sons, this hidden speakeasy is both classy and uninhibited. Just the place to unwind after a cut. thethirstybarber.com