Can you keep a secret? Because we’ve got quite a handful of them here in Manila – secret, sophisticated cocktail bars where fine drinks, intimate conversations, and proper decorum come together. These aren’t your usual bars or nightclubs though – they’re speakeasies.
Otherwise known as “blind pigs” or “blind tigers,” these underground cocktail bars first came into prominence during the U.S. Prohibition era in 1920, when a nationwide ban on alcoholic beverages prompted the creation of secret drinking joints. Naturally, people spoke quietly about these word-of-mouth places in public, hence the term “speakeasy.”
Today, Manila’s speakeasies serve as luxe after-hours havens, where people can enjoy quality cocktails and conversations sans the booming music and obnoxious flashing lights of most metropolitan nightclubs.
So if you want to have a relaxed night out with friends or your significant other, we’ve rounded up a list of hidden speakeasy bars in Metro Manila for you to choose from!
One ideal haunt for the modern-day Gatsbys and Fitzgeralds of Manila is ABV, or Alcohol by Volume, a speakeasy-style cocktail bar hidden behind a large wooden door in the late night hole-in-the-wall restaurant, Lazy Bastard.
An antique elevator shaft awaits anyone who passes through the door, ready to transport guests back to the Roaring Twenties – if they know the correct password, of course. Inside, you’ll find warm, elegant interiors reminiscent of the original secret lounges of the 1920s, where guests can sample their fine selection of signature cocktails, absinthes, and even some “forgotten classics.”
If nothing on the menu tickles your fancy, ask for the “Bible.” It contains a more extensive list of the drinks their skilled bartenders can whip up for you. You can also ask them to create a unique concoction based on your personal drink preferences.
ABV can be found at the Basement, 22 Jupiter St., Bel-Air Village, Makati.
Blind Pig is probably one of the more known speakeasy-style bars in the metro, having pioneered the speakeasy craze here in Manila.
Since it first opened in 2011, Blind Pig has captured the hearts of countless patrons and A-listers thanks to its deeply personalized experience, promise of absolute privacy, and, of course, its superb cocktails. Blind Pig actually tapped a bartender consultant from the award-winning New York cocktail bar, Milk & Honey, for its drinks!
Make sure you’ve got a sharp eye if you plan to visit. The place is hidden in a nondescript building, with nothing but a small braille sign marking its entrance. Inside, you’ll be greeted by luxurious interiors illuminated by candles and a dimly lit chandelier. Just remember to make a reservation so you can enjoy Blind Pig’s luxe and delightfully intimate service.
Keep in mind that Blind Pig also expects its guests to follow certain rules on proper decorum. Guests are asked to keep their voices (and tempers) down, flash photography and smoking aren’t allowed, and, in line with their promise of total privacy, guests must ask the bar’s hostess first if they wish to be introduced to someone from another table.
Blind Pig can be found at 227 Salcedo St., Legazpi Village, Makati.
Coffee shop by day, cocktail bar by night, and an all-around haven for warm service and quality conversation. That’s probably the simplest way one can sum up The Curator, a space dedicated to curating an experience that showcases only the finest coffee and cocktails.
Bare concrete walls, simple wooden furniture, and warm lighting all add to the elegant yet homey character of this coffee and cocktail aficionados’ hub. Specialty coffee and cold-pressed juices abound here in the daytime. After sunset, however, The Curator’s bartenders start serving up their skillfully crafted cocktail classics and innovations.
The Curator’s logo actually signifies the term “…and…”, because those behind the joint believe in adding stories, richness, and joy to the customer’s experience. That’s why The Curator’s passionate owners and staff always make it a point to approach guests, ask how they’re liking the drinks so far, and engage in conversations that leave lasting impressions.
The Curator can be found at Cyrano Wine Shop, 134 Legazpi St. cor C. Palanca St., Legazpi Village, Makati.
Just a few blocks away from the Blind Pig lies its so-called “little sister,” the Exit Bar. Getting here may also feel like a treasure hunt since it’s tucked away behind a deceptively ordinary fire exit in the Corinthian Plaza building.
Quilted leather couches run on both ends of the bar, creating long booths that are ideal for groups who want to occupy more than one table. There are also a few seats by the bar up front, and the area is made intimate by the dim lighting and dark interiors.
Guests can make a little more noise and enjoy less pricey cocktails and beers here, but that doesn’t mean proper speakeasy etiquette should be abandoned. Exit Bar’s cocktails start at around ₱200, but you can also choose from their selection of beers, shots, whiskeys, and other strong spirits.
Exit Bar can be found at Corinthian Plaza, Paseo de Roxas St. cor Gamboa St., Makati.
You won’t find any bright signs in La Fuerza leading you to Finders Keepers, just the small shipping-container-turned-kitchen of Joe’s Meat Shack parked outside the bar’s discreet entrance. This intimate speakeasy-style bar serves up a quality selection of cocktails, spirits, and draft and bottled beers.
Step inside and you’ll be greeted by classy interiors bathed in red light from the bright “Finders Keepers” neon sign behind the bar. Relax with your friends on one of the couches or take a seat by the bar and watch the bartenders work their magic on your drinks. Just be careful when picking your poison, because the prices change based on the liquors used.
Just remember to keep these five house rules in mind while you’re inside Finders Keepers: order and pay at the bar, cover unfinished drinks with tissue if you have to leave your table, sharing is caring, offer a seat and make a friend, and for eff’s sake, no smoking.
Finders Keepers is located inside Joe’s Meat Shack at La Fuerza Plaza, Pasong Tamo Ext. cor Sabio St., Makati.
Ocean’s Telephone Company
As the name suggests, you’ll have to go through a classic British red telephone box first to reach Ocean’s Telephone Company, the latest venture of those behind Frank & Dean Café x Kitchen and Pablo’s Pub and Restaurant.
Once you’ve gotten past the phone booth and well-concealed door, you’ll find yourself in a dimly lit room boasting sophisticated interiors. The dim lighting, elegant wood paneling, quilted leather chairs, and red neon sign perfectly capture the bar’s classy vibe.
Don’t expect any local beers here though. This high-end joint serves only classic imported cocktails, spirits, wines, and beer. They also offer a small menu of elevated pub dishes like F&D’s pizzas, Reuben Potato Fries, Smoked Salmon Napoleon, Truffle Fries, and sliders.
Ocean’s Telephone Company can be found at Frank & Dean, Forbestown Rd. cor 26th St., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.
One of the less obscure joints on this list is definitely Prohibition, which is slightly easier to find given its placement inside a mall. Just push your way past the fire exit door in Dillingers 1903 and you’re there!
Don’t let its friendlier location fool you, because this exclusive VIP liquor lounge still captures the drinking pleasure and fine service characteristic of any speakeasy-style bar. The high ceiling and large couches create an intimate atmosphere perfect for conversing and enjoying signature cocktails.
Luckily, for those feeling a bit more energetic, Prohibition also hosts weekly club nights featuring local and international DJs. The place’s spacious balcony overlooking Makati Avenue serves as an al fresco party spot, where guests can dance to disco, funky house, hip-hop, and other styles of music (depending on the day).
Prohibition can be found at 3/F Greenbelt 3, Makati Ave. cor Esperanza St., Ayala Center, Makati.