Shhh... Don't Tell: Some of Manila's Coolest Speakeasy (Hidden) Bars
We all get stressed and we all have different coping mechanisms to de-stress. After a tiring work week, the sight of the weekend gets us all giddy because we can all finally have some few days of rest. Some of us engage in hobbies, some travel, and some stay home and be with loved ones. I myself usually go out with friends to make the most of my days off from work. If you feel like you need to have some chill time and want to have some few drinks, here are some of the places you can check out. Mind you, these are not your usual clubs/bars because they are few of the secret bars you can find (hopefully) around the metro.
I am big fan of the 1920s Prohibition era and the Speakeasy. A speakeasy, also called a blind pig or blind tiger, is an illegal establishment that sells alcoholic beverages. Such establishments came into prominence in the United States during the Prohibition era (1920–1933). During that time, the sale, manufacture, and transportation (bootlegging) of alcoholic beverages was illegal throughout the United States.
Speakeasies were so called because of the practice of speaking quietly about such a place in public, or when inside it, so as not to alert the police or neighbors. I was excited to learn that Manila night life scene is slowly embracing these types of establishments. I've visited a few and though they're supposed to be secrets, I can't contain myself from not sharing them. Mind you though you have to have some Sherlock Holmes attitude in you and you should know the passwords for some of these places.
By far, my favorite of all the Speakeasy bars I've been to. If you want an almost authentic speakeasy bar experience, this is your go-to place. Alcohol By Volume (ABV) is tucked inside the burger joint Lazy Bastard along Jupiter St. in Makati City. Go down the basement and look for the vintage elevator shaft and you'll find a door that will transport you back in time. ABV offers one of the best curated drinks you can find in the metro. The ambiance is superb with all the wood and leather interiors. Choose to seat at one of their cubicle tables for the complete speakeasy experience. I personally love their Whiskey Sour. This place is a bit pricey, but hey, if you want quality drinks and this place is well-worth your money.
Bank Bar MNL
This is one of the most sophisticated secret bars in the metro. Turn on your detective attitude and find the door that leads to this hidden gem inside a convenient store at the ground floor of the RCRBC building along 26th Ave BGC. Millennial yuppies and generation X frequent this place so it gives you that posh and hip LA or New York bar vibes so better dress up if you plan to visit. Sip on their cocktails curated by well-trained bar tenders while listening to chill music and catching up with friends or your date. By the bar is the best place to seat so you can have a full view of the happenings inside. They also have the largest collection of alcoholic display I've seen in my entire life. Reservations are encouraged but you can just walk in and oh, no password needed, just your best reconnaissance skills.
This is one of the newest secret bars in Manila. Here's a giveaway, it's somewhere inside the compound of Tittos Latin BBQ & Brew, a new restaurant in East Capitol Drive in Kapitolyo Pasig City. But before you can enter, you need to know the pin-code to key in on the faux Coca-Cola vending machine turned into a door. It's a modern take on the speakeasy ambiance but will still give you all the feels. Tell the bartenders what you're feeling at the moment and they will execute a drink that matches your mood. The mixologists at RM-16 are also from Erwan Heussaff's Niner Ichi Nana, so expect nothing but good cocktails. For the password/pin code, ask for it from one of the management staff of Tittos Latin BBQ & Brew.
Ocean's Telephone Company is by far the hardest to find among all these secret bars but is the most that screams Speakeasy, hands-down. It is located on the second floor of Frank and Dean's Café in Burgos Circle, BGC; look for the door that leads you to a room full of vintage telephone booths. That's how much clue I can give you, it's up to you how you can get in there, besides where's the fun in that if I gave away all the details? I like OTC because they're partnered with my favorite whiskey brand Jameson Whiskey, but they also have a wide range of offerings on their bar list that you can try.
Finders Keepers MNL
It's supposed to be a Speakeasy bar but the last time I was there it was full-packed; it's not so secret after all. Probably because it is in the same building with that of Black Market - a popular club in La Fuerza Building, Chino Roces Ave. Makati City. It is a small place with the speakeasy setting with modern music playing. So if you had one too many drinks and want to sober up by dancing you can just walk next door to Black Market.
If you're tired of the usual clubs and acoustic bars and just want to have a relax night out over good quality cocktails and alcoholic beverages, I suggest you go out of your comfort zone and visit one of these places. And oh, please drink moderately and just have good and clean fun.
p.s. I'll checking out more of these speakeasy/hidden bars in and around the metro, so stay tuned!
For full reviews of these secret bars you can check the links below: