Alcohol By Volume (usually abbreviated as ABV) is the standard measurement of how much alcoholic content a beverage contains. For the whole month of December, we’ll be entertaining our readers with stories on beers, spirits as well as the swankiest bars for our ABV series. Bottoms up!
Sexy, discreet and absolutely gorgeous. We’re talking about speakeasies of course! Manila is a great city to explore for those who prefer a side of cloak-and-dagger with their Old fashioned as opposed to commercialised drinking holes straight out of Pinterest.
The Silent Room. The Library. Graveyard. These are some of the monikers that the Blind Pig has earned over the years for the discreet, muffled ambience that one is promised in the establishment. The perfect place to plot your next coup, semi-legal endeavours or to whisper sweet nothings to your beau, the Blind Pig offers a curated menu of cocktail and snacks to accompany your candlelit tryst.
Editor’s Pick: Made with Ardberg 10-year-old, tobacco-infused syrup and smoked dried mandarin peel, the Smokey Old Bastard is an unforgettable cocktail. We’ve been told on good authority that no bar in Manila has yet to match its smokiness.
How to get there: The Blind Pig has a strict, no walk-in policy, so call ahead and make a booking. The venue has no signage aside from a cryptic braille sign. Knock, confirm your booking through a wooden peephole and make your way inside.
ABV is a snug and classy speakeasy tucked away in Makati which brings one back to the bustling era of the prohibition. Expect leather upholstered bar stools, a full bar boasting the largest Absinthe collection in Manila and customised cocktails per your order. Aspiring mixologists are urged to enquire about their comprehensive ABV Masterclass.
Editor’s Pick: We have a weakness for classic cocktails, try their Negroni – Bombay Sapphire Gin, Dolin Rouge Vermoth and a splash of Campari over an ice block.
How to get there: Corner of Jupiter and Galaxy Street (no kidding), down the stairwell into the Lazy Bastard burger joint, through a trick elevator door. Go ahead pull up a bar stool, you’ve earned it.
Mandalay Bar is possible the most hidden, unexpected surprise that we’ve managed to track down on our bar-hopping escapades in Manila. For a speakeasy, Mandalay Bar is large, cavernous even with drinking niches and secret rooms. Huge collection of limited bottlings whiskys (and whiskeys) and vintages to satisfy the staunchest liquor aficionados.
Editor’s Pick: Go for the flights, the Lowlands is beautiful, offering Glenkinchie 12-year-old, Auchentoshan 12-year-old and the dazzling Auchentoshan Three Wood.
How to get there: Walk into The Belle & Dragon (a loud and flashy carbon-copy pub), grope your way through the venue until you find the cupboard. Push aside the clothes, hands shaking, and enter into your well-deserved sanctuary.
The Curator Coffee & Cocktails
We’ve covered The Curator previously in our Manila City Guide, there’s not much to say except for the fact that The Curator is hands down the best bar in Manila, evident from its hat-trick of The World’s 50 Best Bars. Innovative menu? Check. Knowledgeable cocktail wizards? Check. Obsessively handcrafted cocktails? Save for making the cocktail glasses themselves, check. We came, we saw, we concurred – it is indeed the top dog.
Editor’s Pick: We went gaga over Wake Up Li’l Susie, a fruity and boozy number made from Havana 7 rum, yellow chartreuse, pineapple shrub, pineapple syrup, ginger juice and a squeeze of lime.
How to get there: Walk inside the café marked simply with the establishment’s whimsical logo, make your way to the back, push open the door and make your way into the dimly-lit, urban-industrial cocktail hideout.