Hush! There are bars in town that many have talked about but only a few have seen. Such is the nature of these hidden bars, pubs, or speakeasies. They dwell on the down low and that’s where they choose to be—maintaining an air of mystery, with their locations only known to a select few.
Manila, being a city of contradictions though, does quite the opposite with these hush-hush watering holes. It’s as if the more exclusive and secretive you want the place to be, the more traction it gets from the cool crowd. Everyone’s eager to jump in on the thrills they offer—the secret doors, un-Waze-able addresses, and the dark, dingy basements.
But these best kept secrets are now due for a big reveal. We dish out on the top "hidden" bars in Manila tucked away in dark rooftops, basements, and streets. We promise you the same air of mystery but the cat’s out of the bag—you won’t be the only one checking them out, for sure.
Finders Keepers. Behind the rusty metal door in a hard-to-spot street in Makati lies a warehouse that has under its roof two haunts with an underground vibe: The club Black Market and its pub counterpart, Finders Keepers. Step inside and upon flinging the curtains open, you are welcomed to an even darker room lit only with the faint red light from the pub’s signage and big, melting candles. The place is not big so it gets packed easily come midnight, especially since everyone’s in on the crafted cocktails. Once you get the right buzz, Black Market is right next door for some indie/hip-hop music. What to get: The Beergerita (P400) / Perfect for: Pre-gaming for a night out / Address: Warehouse 5, La Fuerza Plaza, Chino Roces Avenue Corner Sabio Street, San Lorenzo, Makati City / Contact: +63917-821 9761 or +632-4035019
Z Hostel. From the name itself, this rooftop bar is in fact sitting atop an actual hostel. Indie bands get their fair share of the limelight with scheduled gigs on loop. With a guy wearing a tank top on your left and a girl in fashion-centric corporate attire on your right, this place attracts all kinds of young and hip customers. What to get: Local beers (P75 each) / Perfect for: Chill, drinking nights / Address: 5660 Don Pedro Street, Makati City / Contact: +63927-9652692
Exit Bar. The clue to finding this spot is to look for a door which says “Exit”—much like hiding in plain sight. Nestled at the back of a café, the bar is almost pitch dark, and upon entry, you’ll see alcohol bottle silhouettes. Once your eyes adjust to the light, cozy up on the soft, cushioned seats and revel in the mystery of your hot date, or the un-lit faces of your friends. What to get: Martini (P200) / Perfect for: After-dinner drinks / Address: Ground Floor Corinthian Plaza, 121 Paseo De Roxas, Legaspi Village, Makati City / Contact: +632-5511283
Ocean’s Telephone Company. On the second floor of the unassuming restaurant Frank & Dean is a speakeasy that shies away from the public. In what looks like an old British-inspired telephone booth lies a hidden door that opens to Ocean’s Telephone Company. With leather-cushioned seats and a vibe resembling a British pub, you will be led into compartmentalized tables perfect for groups. What to get: Mojito / Perfect for: Intimate group conversations / Address: Inside Frank & Dean, Forbes Town Center, Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City / Contact: +63917-4457056 / +632-7185032 (Frank & Dean)
Unit 27 Apartment Bar. The trick of these hidden bars is in how they morph come nighttime. This homey apartment-looking café by day transforms house party-ready at night. But don’t let this trick you. Their drinks may be refreshing but they sure are spiked in more ways than you can imagine. Take it from their mixologist Richmond Marquez’s carefully crafted concoctions. What to get: Spiked Cookies and Cream / Perfect for: Catching up with long lost friends / Address: Icon Plaza, 5th Avenue Corner 25th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City / Contact: +63998-5569125 or +63998-5569129
Bunk Bar. Tucked high up along Shaw Boulevard is this rooftop bar guised as a haven for artists. This bar-slash-gallery doubles as a creative hub for artists and musicians as well. The Berlin art scene-inspired space gives a good option for a breather from EDSA traffic. With a stunning view of the city and local bands in the background, it’s worth searching for. What to get: Cranberry Vodka (P80) / Perfect for: Creative drinking nights / Address: 8th Floor, Joven Building, Shaw Boulevard Corner Samat Street, Highway Hills, Mandaluyong City
ABV Cocktail and Absinthe Bar. Inside the burger joint Lazy Bastard is an entryway that opens up to an old elevator. But don’t be fooled, the elevator doesn’t move but rather provides the passageway to ABV (Alcohol by Volume). Upon entry, you are instantly transported to a 1920s-themed speakeasy, complete with servers in flapper-inspired uniforms and premium (and century-old) options for alcohol. In the event someone asks for a password, say “A glass of giggle water, please.” What to get: Cranberry Vodka (P80) / Perfect for: Impress-the-boss kind of night / Address: Baseent Floor, 22 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air Village, Makati City / Contact: +632-8325330
Speakeasy. Deriving its name from “speakeasy,” a term used during the Prohibition era in the US where alcohol was served secretly, the bar and bistro is an easy hangout spot in the heart of the Makati. While it is not as hidden as its other counterparts, you’ll still get that sense of exclusivity inside. What to get: Speakeasy Standard (P300) / Perfect for: Mid-week after-office drinking / Address: Ground Floor, Alphaland Makati Place, Ayala Avenue Extension Corner Malugay Street, Bel-Air, Makati City / Contact: +63917-4993279
Mandalay Whisky & Cigars. A Narnia-inspired doorway serves as access to this seemingly grown-ups-only place. From the name itself, Mandalay is meant for drinking whisky and smoking cigar while you’re at it. Inside the restaurant The Belle & Dragon, is this Indochine-inspired pub complete with big Buddha heads and dragon installations. What to get: Single Malt Whisky / Perfect for: Business deals with the bros / Address: Inside The Belle & Dragon, 100 OPL Building, Don Carlos Palanca Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City / Contact: +632-7208700 (The Belle & Dragon)
Bank Bar. While you’re buying your favorite Slushie from this ubiquitous 7/11 store, you might want to consider stopping by the hidden bar by its storage room. Running joke is that it’s a pretty “convenient” place for a bar to set up shop. Bank Bar, ‘cause it’s by the RCBC Tower, boasts of an extensive selection of bottled drinks. What to get: Mariang Bastos / Perfect for: Thrill-seeking drinkers / Address: G/F RCBC Savings Bank Corporate Center, 26th and 25th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City / Contact: +632-5445776
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Original article and photos from Metro’s December 2015-January 2016 issue, written by Randz Manucom. Check out all these and more in the Metro Dec '15-Jan '16 issue, now out in major bookstores. Metro is available in bookstores and on newsstands for P150. Download the Metro Magazine app for access to all digital editions on your tablet or smartphone, available in Zinio, Android and Apple App Stores. Like Metro on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Metro.Magazine) and follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@MetroMagPH)