Modern-day speakeasies are formed around concepts that are enticing, unique, and somewhat seductive. That, combined with signature cocktails and specialty alcoholic beverages, means that speakeasies’ popularity with the millennial crowd is definitely on the rise.
The term “speakeasy”, according to an article by lifestyle portal Star2.com had originally been used for clandestine lounge areas that sold alcohol during the Prohibition era in America, when selling and consuming alcohol was illegal. In today’s post-Prohibition times where alcohol is completely legal to enjoy, this concept is embraced by bars, pubs and clubs in dim and discreet locations.
These are bars that are inconspicuous, small, exclusive, and almost impossible to find on social media or in advertisements. Most of them take their themes from the 1920’s aesthetic, with glamorous but rustic interiors and smooth jazz music, along with signature cocktails that, combined with the secretive and highly-exclusive hidden bar concept, make for a truly unique drinking experience.
Although the speakeasy may seem like an intimidating, doomed-to-fail concept in today’s age of social media, there’s always something about covert, secret locations that sparks people’s interests. The fact that most of these places are well curated conceptually guarantees incredible ambience and meticulously handpicked cocktails that will give you the best experience possible. The combination of expertly selected spirits, handcrafted specialty cocktails, and meticulously designed interiors means that speakeasies are becoming the go-to locations for nightcaps and weekend hangouts.
Intrigued? Here’s a list of exclusive speakeasies around the Metro that you may want to try for your next night out.
One of the first speakeasies in Manila, Blind Pig is also infamous for being one of the most clandestine locations in the country. Pictures of the bar’s front door show no signage, a quick Google search yields minimal results, a check on Facebook yields zero official pages, and Instagram shows nothing but geotags of patrons who marvel at the bar’s unique, lush interiors. The interiors are rustic and dimly-lit, but the aesthetic is specific in order to truly give you that 1920s, Prohibition-era feel. In addition to the 1920s theme, the lounge also occasionally requires for visitors to give the secret password upon entry, but not to worry, as that’s something you can get with a quick call to their contact number. With their unique, award-winning cocktails that you can personalize upon ordering, this speakeasy truly sets itself apart. Make sure you book a table in advance, as Blind Pig, despite its nondescript location, may get fully booked.
Blind Pig is at 227 Salcedo St., Legazpi Village, Makati. For inquiries and reservations, give them a call at 0917-549-2264.
Serving coffee in the morning and cocktails at night, The Curator is an award-winning specialty coffee shop and a craft cocktail bar, lauded as the 37th Best Bar in Asia for 2019 and the Best Bar in the Philippines. Apart from housing local talents in bartending and drink mixing, The Curator also features occasional visits from internationally-lauded mixologists from around the world, who serve only the best cocktails to their loyal night patrons. In this hole-in-the-wall coffee and cocktails lounge with minimalist interiors, but truly unique and exciting drinks you can’t get anywhere else, you’re guaranteed to have a fun time, day or night.
If you’re looking for an exciting night, then Finders Keepers is the place for you. To get to Finders Keepers, you’d have to travel through the EDM-blaring crowd of popular nightlife spot Black Market, which will tell you what to expect at this particular speakeasy. Usually visited by partygoers who’d want a break from the loud music and crowds, Finders Keepers, with vibrant and indulgent interiors, is a place equally as lively but albeit more intimate than its nightclub counterpart. Of course, this spot features a wide selection of spirits, signature cocktails, and draft or bottled beers. Definitely more upbeat than other speakeasies, Finders Keepers is the place to go if you would rather dance and listen to good music. Expect loud EDM, dancing, and, of course, their signature revitalizing drinks!
BONIFACIO GLOBAL CITY
Conceptualized specifically for the after-work crowd, Bank Bar is tucked away behind a 7-Eleven convenience store that’s nestled between the towering office buildings of BGC. With their stylishly sophisticated interiors and a unique, locally-inspired drinks menu, if you’re looking to wind down in vogue, then Bank Bar is the place for you. The ambience is calm, cosmopolitan, and urban, without the usual loud music and flashing lights of other locations in the area. Pair this with their signature refreshing cocktails, and you’ll be sure to count Bank Bar as a new favorite spot where you can loosen up after a hard day’s work.
If you’ve heard of the famous Pink’s Hot Dogs, where they serve up expertly-crafted but no-nonsense burgers and hot dog buns, then you’ll be pleased to know that hidden in the restaurant’s back door is Hotel Bar. A speakeasy that prides itself on being more inviting than its other counterparts, Hotel Bar is an upbeat location where you’d love to spend a chill night out. Its covert location assures you that the atmosphere is intimate, but their lighthearted ambience and pop music makes it perhaps less intimidating than other speakeasies you may come across. If you need more reasons to come visit, you can score some great eats from Pink’s to go with your night’s cocktail.
Another 1920s-themed speakeasy in BGC is The Backroom, a luxurious lounge with a fully-stocked array of spirits and cocktails. Gin enthusiasts rejoice, as the Backroom is widely known for its craft gin, with over 150 variants available, plenty of which are hard-to-find spirits in the Philippine market. With sophisticated cocktail choices, black marble, and leather interiors, the Backroom Bar is about as luxurious as it gets.
The Backroom Bar is at Shangri-La at the Fort, BGC. For inquiries and reservations, check out The Backroom Bar on their Instagram or give them a call at (02)865-3844.
The Gold Room
If you’re up North and feel like you’re missing out with all the speakeasies in the Makati and Taguig area, under the restaurant Delgado.112 is the speakeasy The Gold Room. The lounge itself is almost picturesque, situated in a restored wooden colonial house in a block in Quezon City, which certainly adds to the antique but elegant flair. With a fully-stocked liquor cabinet and serving expertly-mixed classic cocktails that don’t skimp on the alcohol, if you’re looking for a quiet night to chat with friends accompanied by good music and a classy vibe, then The Gold Room is your place to go.
The Gold Room is at 112 Sct. Delgado St., Tomas Morato, Quezon City. For inquiries and reservations, check out their Facebook page, or give them a call at 0966-976-5520.
Inside Vitto’s Wine Bar and Restaurant is a secret door leading to Prima Facie. Aptly named after the Latin expression that means “at first sight”, this inconspicuous speakeasy hidden inside a wine bar serves a wide variety of cocktails, spirits, scotch, whiskeys, and anything you could think of. With art deco elements and smooth jazz and blues playing in the background, Prima Facie is your go-to place for classic cocktails with a twist. If your alcohol of choice is wine, the main restaurant Vitto’s has a wide selection of unique curated wines that you might be interested in. The food is also not to be missed, as they serve your classic fare like deep-fried fritters and grilled cheese sandwiches, all carefully crafted to match the cocktails on the menu.
Int.Bar is all about the experience of the mise en scène. INT., short for interior in filmmaking and cinematography, is where Int.Bar takes its inspiration, carefully selecting both its atmosphere and its cocktails. Hidden in a velvet-curtained vintage photobooth in between the indie folk hangouts in Cubao Expo, true to its name this speakeasy serves cocktails inspired by classic films and iconic movie characters. With dim amber lighting, walls painted in a deep green, and semi-industrial, semi-urban interiors, the lounge itself is about as picturesque as an Edward Hopper painting. The cocktails, of course, do not fall behind, with eccentric mixes, meticulously crafted themes, and unique ingredients you won’t find elsewhere.
If you fancy some Mexican barbecue, tacos, and other Latin American fare to go with your drinks, consider RM-16 as your nightly hideout. Inside the brightly-colored, chirpy interiors of Titto’s Latin BBQ & Brew, RM-16 is a small, laid-back speakeasy with ambient lighting and modish, chic interiors inspired by the Eiffel Tower. At the back of Titto’s, an eye-catching red vintage soda vending machine marks your entrance to RM-16, and upon giving the passcode, the speakeasy’s minimalist sign lets you know that this is a place where you can get a good drink or two. Although there is quite a difference in atmosphere in RM-16, they serve cocktails mixed with tropical ingredients and spirits, so you’ll certainly still get that same punchy Latin American flair.
Hungry, thirsty, or just looking to try something new? Be sure to check out the Food tag on Daydreaming in Paradise for some ideas on your next dining adventure.
If there’s one thing Jonah De Jesus loves, it’s food. He practically grew up in the kitchen, following his mom around as she put together delicious dishes (although he was sometimes more of a hindrance than a help). Although he eventually ended up taking a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, that love for all things gastronomical followed him well into his adulthood.
When he’s not watching reruns of Parts Unknown or trying to imitate Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen, Jonah spends most of his time scouring Manila for all the newest and best places to eat.