July 31, 2018

Secret Bar: Mandalay Whisky and Cigar Bar

Hidden drinking places or what we call speakeasies are a surefire dime for those seeking atypical and classier ways to enjoy some hooch, post-work or on weekend nights. It might sound like we’re being “titos and titas” but truth be told, you reach a point in your life when you would trade deafening and chaotic dance clubs over low-key atmosphere bar. I don’t know about you, but personally, I’m in that limbo at the moment. Thus the beginning of my search for Metro Manila’s speakeasies and the longing to be in the know. 




In the past year there has been a boom in these back alley, hidden door establishments. So yeah, I'm pretty stoked to learn that the Manila night life scene is slowly embracing these types of establishments. There’s quite a few but just make sure you can find your way in. I’ve been to 6 of them and just a few days ago, I finally got to check out my 7th one: Mandalay Whisky and Cigar Bar.



When I hear the word Mandalay, what comes to my mind is that place in Myanmar where one can find the ancient city of Bagan which I want to visit so badly and hopefully soon. But this speakeasy tucked inside The Belle & Dragon pub is named as Mandalay Whisky and Cigar Bar because conveys the same bespoke protocol east meets west aesthetic of the former. It also has its roots after the poem by Rudyard Kipling about a Westerner captivated by the beauty and allure of a Burmese woman. 


During its early days, getting in is by invitation if you’re dining at Belle Dragon. But now, everyone is welcome so long as you know how to find your way inside. If you like reading books and have read or have heard of Narnia, then that’s your hint. Remember how the Pevensie siblings while exploring the professor's house, Lucy finds a wardrobe which doubles as a magic portal to a forest in a land called Narnia. That’s exactly how it was while I entered the passage to reach Mandalay Whisky and Cigar Bar.  


Once you step inside this dimly lit room you will be greeted by a vintage globe and a pair of towering Chinese guardian lions on pedestals. On both walls are glass shelves housing top-notch and rare whiskey finds. Walk a few more steps and you’ll find lounges and nooks that are a throwback to the elite and vintage gentleman's clubs of years gone-by and just like a scene straight out of a dapper Mad Men set with leather seats, brass fixtures and opulent antique interior. The leather couches is as intimate as ever, but the stools encourages a more laid-back, hang-at-the-bar type of feel. Here, guests can mix and mingle in a personal atmosphere that screams nothing but class.




Wistful boozers can seek solace on Mandalay’s extensive line of whiskey from all over the world and carefully curated libations. Inside, a team of barkeeps offer thoughtful cocktail. The staff is happy to talk you through any drink on the menu, or suggest one that would suit your boozy preference. This is the kind of dedication that makes getting into any speakeasy worth the effort despite the higher prices of drinks compared to your usual bars. Mandalay also offers several brands of cigars and the lounge serves as the entire establishment’s smoking area, so if you’re not a smoker but don’t mind smelling like smoke or being a second hand smoker, then come right in. 


 https://www.facebook.com/MandalayPH/
 https://www.facebook.com/MandalayPH/


As an eager beginner whiskey drinker, I gushed and giggled like a school girl (as evidenced by the video) at the sight of a 30 year old Macallan and was astonished to see a 60-year old one. The faceted crystal decanter of The Macallan Imperiale "M" is 28 inches tall and holds 6 liters of whisky. The bottle is a hand-blown decanter created by a French glass company named after the Roman emperor Constantine that took 17 craftsmen over 50 hours to complete. And how much does it costs? Well just around a couple of millions, NBD right? Not! But for its rarity, it’s no surprise at all. One of the bartenders even told us that when this was transported, the handlers needed to wear gloves. Just read between the lines. 




Mandalay also offers Asian and European cuisines to pair with your drinks and opening hour starts at 6:00 pm. Furthermore, nights of jazz classics are often held, I just don’t know for sure with regards to the schedule. I promise myself to go back asap, with friends in tow,  for a full speakeasy experience and try some whiskeys or whiskey mixes to satisfy my all golden-age yearning, space-time shuffling and completely lose track of time, as the case may be.



100 Don Carlos Palanca St., 
Legaspi Village, Makati City
Contact No: 02 6258818
Facebook: facebook.com/MandalayPH
Instagram: instagram.com/mandalayph



For more information, complete menu and restaurant reviews, check out their Zomato profile: 
Mandalay Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
 


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* some photos are taken from Mandalay Whisky and Cigar Bar's  Facebook and Instagram accounts. 

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