A curated selection of bars at the forefront of Manila’s vibrant cocktail scene


October 9th, 2019


The Philippines’ capital, a bustling metropolis with colonial homes juxtaposed among stunning modern highrise office towers, apartment buildings, and sprawling suburbs is home now to a rapidly expanding assemblage of speakeasy-themed bars and specialist cocktail bars. We present our round-up of the bars that are making waves in 2019 within Manila’s increasing sophisticated bar scene.


Run Rabbit Run

The Poblacion, Makati oasis is tucked behind green vines and is made prominent by an upper room red-orange door. It is what the owners call a rabbit hole, a modern sense of escape inspired by Alice in Wonderland. But other than its plush Victorian seats, the interiors are minimalist, taking cues from the amber colours of wood and light. With a hand from Singapore’s Bitters and Love, owners Michael Hearn and Airell Lam infuse Filipino flavours into their concoctions. Drinks are embellished with local delicacies and decorations, such as a sampaguita flower, coconut jam, and traces of pandan. https://www.runrabbit.run

run rabbit run manila

Bank Bar

Located inconspicuously inside a former bank stock room, the Bank Bar is stylish speakeasy created by The Moment Group, who dubbed its concept as a bar meant for the “retired party people.” The venue is accessed through an entry at a nearby 7-Eleven, leading to a space replete with plush sofas and an attractively backlit bar. There are no frivolous colours, no gaudy music, only a wide library of bespoke cocktails tagged with humour, such as Pinay Colada, a swish of local rum, mango juice, drops of chocolate bitters with a hint of grapefruit. https://www.facebook.com/bankbarmnl/

bank bar manila

Proof Bar Manila 

Set inside the upscale Bel-Air district,  this speakeasy gentleman’s den brings the old west to life. Chequered floors are paired with leather-upholstered seats, comfortable banquettes and a sprawling wooden counter that features the bar’s best offerings. Senior bartender Abby Quilal-Ian fronts the bar with her world-class creations. Have a sip of her winning treat, the Blaze & Haze—a smoky, fruity glass of Bulleid Bourbon, mixed berries, marshmallow milk, and Bruichladdich Classic Laddie.   https://www.facebook.com/pg/ProofManila

proof bar manila

Buccaneers Rum & Cocktails

Manila’s first rum bar is captained by Ulysse Jouanneaud, who formerly helmed Shangri-La Fort’s Backroom and High Street. The ship-shaped venue is lodged in between Kalayaan Avenue and Don Pedro Street, appearing like a pirate vessel that crashed in the vicinity. Complete with barrels, rope ladders and even an anchor, the 120-seater bar impresses with a vast collection of rums from the tropics, as well as the floral-shirt wearing staff that attend to each request. Signature drinks include Lugarhou and La Sayona, some of which are presented in tiki glasses. https://www.facebook.com/buccaneersph/

buccaneers bar manila

The Curator Coffee & Cocktails

Hidden in the backroom of Makati’s Cyrano Wines, the coffee-and-cocktail venue exudes an atmosphere of relaxed sophistication with its minimalist decor of unpolished concrete walls, and dark wood furniture. During the day Curator serves coffees and the Brew of the Day. After dark, the bartenders impress with flavourful bespoke cocktails that have earned Curator a ranking among Asia’s 50 Best Bars. https://www.thecuratorcoffeeandcocktails.com

curator bar manila

The Bonbon Club 

Artisanal gin tavern The Bonbon Club was created by Finders Keepers’ owner Chino Roces. The 30-seat venue appears like a secret basement office, with an eclectic decor that combines old antiques and taxidermy on walls, button-shaped stools, and custom-made wooden seats. The drink selection includes more than 40 kinds of premium gin taken from around the world, all mixed with in-house syrups for a crisp, clean beverage. Bartenders are draped in white lab coats, attributing to the fact that gin, historically was used as medicine. https://www.facebook.com/thebonbonclubmnl

bonbon club manila

Prohibition Liquor Lounge 

Secreted within the Dillingers 1903 venue, the VIP Prohibition Liquor Lounge is accessed through an inconspicuous fire exit –  reminiscent of the 1920s Prohibition era. A tunnel leads to an exclusive room draped with blue curtains and mid-century sofas, with an opportunity to head up to the roof terrace. Dillingers’ own mixologist crafts the lounge’s offerings; stand-out drinks include Mangave, made with mangoes, lime juice, and agave syrup; and the Old Fashioned, a mix of Makers Mark Whiskey with hints of cherries. The classy, relaxed atmosphere transforms with the arrival of a live DJ, where the quiet drinking venue becomes a frenetic dance floor. https://www.facebook.com/ProhibitionLiquorLounge/

prohibition manila

Yes Please

Neon lights, graffiti, and period furniture make up this industrial den, created with the thoughts of the 90s funk and a dive-bar atmosphere. Mostly bare concrete walls are embellished with murals and markings that make the venue young and vibrant. Spider chandeliers hang from the lofty ceilings, shining over comfortable sofas and chairs that reflect the quirky vibe. Celebrity chef Erwan Heussaf presides behind the bar to serve character-filled cocktails—most of them variations of classics named with 90s inspirations. https://www.facebook.com/yespleaseph/

yes please manila

Hotel Bar at Pink’s, Shangri La at The Fort

Pink’s Hot Dogs, other than serving up Hollywood sausages at Shangri-La at The Fort, hides a glitzy vintage bar behind its backdoor. The Hotel Bar’s ultimate speakeasy setting is a mix of mood lighting, dark interiors, and the spirited sound of hip-hop. Classic cocktails star in its menu, with bespoke variations created according to customer requests.  https://www.facebook.com/hotelbarmanila/

hotel bar manila


OTO – the Japanese word for sound – aptly describes this bar-cafe-and-music-lounge. Wrapped in stripes of black and beige, the interior space is decked out for quality sounds with large speakers, an impressive vinyl record collection and highend turntables. Live DJ music becomes a harmonious accompaniment to the polished mixology from the bar team. Popular cocktails include the Paloma – a refined Margarita –  or indulge in the well-executed classic cocktails. In the kitchen, co-founder Miguel Ledesma cooks up generous serves of meaty bites served on wooden platters.  https://www.facebook.com/pg/ototo.ph

OTO bar manila

The Edge at Discovery Primea

The 16th-floor garden lounge boasts panoramic views of Makati’s skyline, combined with a modern mid-century aesthetic and contemporary mixology by bartender Lennon Aguilar. In-house created syrups and liqueurs are aged with the help of Portholes, an original concept from Illinois’ The Aviary. Signature drinks evoke dramatic flavours and patriotic names, such as Noli Me Tangere—a nod to a novel written by the national hero Jose Rizal. More modern choices include Good Morning, Makati, a fusion of fresh dalandan orange juice, lambanog (coconut wine), and slices of dragon fruit.  https://www.discoveryprimea.com/bars-restaurants/edge/

the edge manila


Featured contributor: Caris Cruz

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