Cocktail Confidential

Makati City, San Juan, Pasig City

From 1920 to 1933, all hell broke loose when the production and distribution of alcohol was banned in the United States. They called this the Prohibition Era. Powerful crime syndicates took it as an opportunity to seize the market. The country was in a dry spell but under the surface, underground bars were flowing with the good stuff. These underground bars were called speakeasies, and spread across the US. Today, long after the Prohibition Era ended, bars all over the world have adopted the covert, mysterious speakeasy theme: a “secret” well-hidden bar with a relaxed ambience, and expertly-crafted drinks. Manila has its own share of these nondescript bars: a suspect barbershop transforms into something more after-hours; a nondescript building hides a dimmer, cozier world overflowing with booze that hit the spot. These bars are proof that whether you’re a local or seasoned Manila traveler, there’s always a little more of the city to discover.

Updated a year ago

3 saves

Alcohol by Volume

Makati City, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

The Prohibition saw the creation and reinvention of some classic cocktails that are still enjoyed around the world today. Alcohol by Volume (ABV) taps into its extensive list—a.k.a. “The Bible” as they call it—and pays heed to these timeless traditions. Bar-goers separated by miles and decades have sat at bars and ordered the same thing at least once: an elixir of whiskey, Angostura bitters, and sugar served on the rocks. It’s called the Old-Fashioned. Toss a little fire into the mix and ask for the absinthe-laced Sazerac Twist when you’re feeling a little devious. If you can believe it, this portal to the past lies just under a casual burger joint. Sneak past the unsuspecting patrons as they stuff their faces and look for a heavy wooden door. An antique elevator shaft awaits you. When the mâitre d’ asks “what floor”, the true patrons are weeded out from the clueless wanderers. (Hint: check their website!)


Basement Floor, Lazy Bastard, 22 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air Village, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines

3 saves

Blind Pig

Makati City, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

Even in the day, one could only get into speakeasies by uttering select magic words. The single hint that Blind Pig even exists is a metal plaque written in braille just outside the entrance. Dare to knock on the door and eyes dart from the peephole slot that opens. The password is your name and only the lucky few who’ve come with reservations are led in. The mixologists that helm the bar don’t need to win patrons over with witty drink names and long lists, but they know exactly what the thirsty soul needs. Dig into what you’re feeling like (even whims as vague as “something sweet” or “something spicy” will do). The mixologist will whip you up a pleasant surprise—you’re in good hands.


227 Salcedo Street, Legazpi Village, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines

3 saves

Thirsty Barber

San Juan, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

The Thirsty Barber is a watering hole hidden in the Felipe & Sons barbershop. They’re the masters of the Undercut—not just a trendy hairstyle, but a spicy tequila cocktail. From noon until six, the barbershop is abuzz with razors and scissors at the ready. The red neon light pops to life when it’s time to party and the parched patrons can come in for a drink. When Thursday rolls around you can hit two birds with one stone: a trim out front entitles you to a complimentary beer. In the end, you've got a new killer look, fitting right in at Thirsty Barber—beer in hand and a sumptuous pile of glazed chicken skin.

200 Wilson Street, San Juan City, Metro Manila, Philippines

3 saves

Mandalay Whisky & Cigars

Makati City, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

Slink past the boisterous pub crowd of Belle & Dragon’s, past the restaurant that ensues, and don’t miss the wardrobe tucked away at the back. The last thing you’d expect is a quiet den built solely for the enjoyment of fine whiskey and cigar, yet that’s exactly what Mandalay promises to be. Plop down on a cushy seat and make yourself comfortable. The finer things in life envelop you, like the curling smoke of a cigar or the supple taste of whiskey.


Belle & Dragon, OPL Building, 100 Don Carlos Palanca, Legazpi Village, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines

1 save

LIT Manila

Makati City, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

Tucked away among a line of restaurants is LIT Manila, which prides itself in its extensive collection of Japanese whiskey. Francis Tosei, owner and resident expert, believes that there is a bottle for every occasion. Sit at the bar across the long shelf of Japanese-inscribed bottles. Whether you’re a knowledgeable enthusiast or a first-time whiskey drinker, you’re welcome. LIT’s service is sets its heart in “omotenashi”, a Japanese concept of heartfelt hospitality. Pour your heart out and they will pour some of the amber liquid for you.


Ground Floor, Serendra, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines

5 saves

The Curator Coffee and Cocktails

Makati City, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

True to its name, The Curator has whittled down a coffee and cocktail menu with the finesse of those at the helm of an art gallery. Coffee and alcohol are the best, so why choose between one or the other? By day, an unmarked café serves specialty coffee; by night, alcohol laces the menu. Whatever the time of day, however, The Curator maintains its commitment to fine ingredients and uncompromising craftsmanship. They often invite bartenders from across the city, and beyond, to show-off their skills.


134 Legaspi Corner Don Carlos Palanca Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City

1 save

Ocean's Telephone Co.

Makati City, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

A snazzy jazz-inspired bar finds itself in the darnedest of places: a breakfast spot! Ocean’s Telephone Company is just a clever shove away from the Frank & Dean restaurant. Enter from the red telephone booth and push past the fake telephone. The good food continues inside with some winning truffle fries to pair with the classic cocktails. It’s hard enough to find an excuse to get up from their quilted leather seats.


Second Floor, Burgos Park at Forbestown Center, Forbestown Road corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philppines

4 saves

Bank Bar

Makati City, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

Darnedest places #2: a convenience store. The Bank Bar is hidden behind a nondescript storeroom door in your neighborhood-friendly 7-Eleven. The bar fully stocked with bottle upon bottle of expensive liquor will make you wonder how anybody could drink that much. A single sip in, and you’ll have your answer. At some point, a little tipsy and fully smitten by Bank Bar, you might wonder if behind every convenient store, pharmacy, or shop counter, there lies a place as glamorous as this.


Ground Floor, RCBC Savings Bank Corporate Center, 26th and 25th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines

1 save

RM 16

Pasig City, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

Hidden in plain sight behind a "Coke Machine", RM 16 offers more than just sugary drinks: more like, Latin-inspired drinks! If you need a little more help, the guys at Tittos Latin BBQ and Brew can point you in the right direction. Sweet-tooths won’t fail with the Coquito, a dark rum, chocolate, and coconut milk cocktail, while fruity fiends will enjoy the Peruvian Sour (lime and passionfruit spiked with brandy)!


Tittos Latin BBQ & Brew, 16 East Capitol Drive, Kapitolyo, Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines

1 save

Prohibition Liqour Lounge

Makati City, Philippines • Recommendation • 29 May 2018

If authentic speakeasies were created in this day and age, Prohibition Liquor Lounge would be it. Dillinger 1903, an accomplished restaurant within a mall, misleads with their succulent steaks; you’ll look no further. But deeper inside, a hyper-exclusive lounge awaits. Their modern and classic cocktails fuel for a night of fun. On weekends, DJ comes to put that boozy energy to use; other nights, it’s the friendly conversations.


3rd Floor, Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines

Download Lemi

Lemi is better in your pocket. Discover more and create your own Lists in our iOS and Android apps.