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19 Of The Most Chill Bars + Lounges In Manila

PHOTO: (LEFT) Instagram/tortugaph, (RIGHT) Instagram/

There’s always a reason to drink, whether good or bad, and the Manila bar scene does not disappoint. Its ever-growing roster of bars and lounges are there to keep your weekends busy and you and your BFFs socially lubricated, no matter what mood you're feeling. In no particular order, we’ve rounded up the late-night haunts you should definitely hit up around the metro.

  1. Ms. Gee

    One of the newest additions to the Don Pedro bar crawl, Ms. Gee is a Hong Kong-themed cocktail bar and brainchild of Lan Kwai Speakeasy owners Marco Baluyut and Justin Baradas and Sushi Nori’s very own Milka Romero. Derived from the wordplay on MSG, Ms. Gee offers a variety of tea-infused liquor- and wine-based cocktails—like their offerings filed under G & Teas (Gin and Tonic) on their cocktail menu.

  2. Annex House

    Good things come to those who stumble across this nondescript bar and lounge in Poblacion. If you’re familiar with The Workshop—a gin-buko-serving hole in the wall that’s also easy to miss—Annex House is the seemingly rundown house right behind it. Looks can be deceiving though, so don’t miss out on the house party vibes despite there being no neon lights flashing around. Order the Mango Rum or the Calamansi Fizz to stay cool on warm nights.

  3. Ñ

    At the second floor of Lica Ibarra’s ABKD sits a narrow space for a low-key speakeasy with steampunk-inspired interiors. The vibe is perfect for those who want a more intimate, almost clandestine rendezvous with friends or lovers (especially when plural). Patrons can order the La La-Rosa for a swanky take on gin and juice, while coffee addicts should try the Espresso Martini made with bourbon, espresso, and chocolate bitters. DROOL.

  4. Studio 28

    When you come across a big red door with no explicit bar sign (except for maybe an unassuming logo) at the second floor of Uptown Parade in BGC, then you’ve found Studio 28. Its plush furniture and intimate ambiance would make you think this is your usual bar-and-lounge setup, but during the day, it actually operates as a recording studio. At night, check out their bar for their signature gin cocktails.

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  5. Dulo MNL

    At the end (or dulo, if you will) of P. Guanzon street in Poblacion is where you’ll find Dulo MNL. It’s an artsy safe haven with a dimly lit open space layout, filled with mismatched chairs and industrial accents that’s perfect for creative minds to meet, collaborate, spark inspiration or dialogue. Try their Sake Sour for an Oriental twist on a classic drink, or order the Canvas, a gin-based cocktail infused with seasonal herbs and topped with Cointreau foam.

  6. NoKal

    Take a quick trip to New York by exploring the three distinctly Big-Apple-themed floors of NoKal. Order your first round of drinks at the subway-tiled, diner-inspired first floor, then head up to the neon-lit speakeasy lounge as you delve deeper into your kwentos, and finally climb up to the beer garden-esque third floor for shots you’ll be needing when you toast to friendship and maybe a few bad decisions.

  7. Boogie

    From the same crew who brought you Finders Keepers, Black Market, and 20/20 comes a relatively new hangout spot located along Kalayaan Avenue. The atmosphere inside Boogie is unpretentious: Imagine an open house party where everyone from their 20s to their early 40s is invited to drink, mingle, and vibe to funk, soul, hiphop, even disco music. House party is an appropriate description, too, considering the location was formerly an actual residence.

  8. Versus Barcade

    Bring back the fun in your nights out when you visit Versus Barcade. Its designated game room has all the basic arcade games you’d expect to see—pinball machines, racing games, fighting games, even a shuffleboard—and their game nights are perfect for an after-work hangout if you need an outlet for your frenetic, geeky side. But don’t let Versus fool you: Despite their youthful and nostalgic concept, they’re not playing around with their collection of quality booze.   

  9. The Apartment

    If a five-floor walk-up doesn’t sound at all exhausting to you, then head over to The Apartment. The layout of this Poblacion hotspot is like walking through an actual apartment: the living room,  which composed of couches and a dancefloor; the dining area, which includes the bar and an actual dining table; and a bedroom, which does have a bed you could chill on if you need someplace quiet for some late night pillowtalk with a drink in hand.

  10. Tortuga

    Once a Katipunan native, Tortuga graduated to a more mature scene, finding a new home at the second floor of Lokal Hostel in Poblacion. The bar kept its tropical, island vibe—the only thing that’s missing is a beachfront to watch the sunset, TBH. When it comes to their craft cocktails, try the Sneaky Tiki, which is a spiked sweet tea made with bourbon or vodka, or the coconut-rum-based Cocomo that makes you wish you were lazing away by the seashore.

  11. Run Rabbit Run

    Enter the red door to follow the trail down the rabbit hole and find yourself in Wonderland—at least, that’s what happens when you pay a visit to Run Rabbit Run. The lounge-like atmosphere is a pleasant change to the loud and bumping scene in Poblacion, but this is more than a place to relax. It’s an invitation to expand your cocktail palate with their sophisticated libations, like the Jessica Rabbit, Mr. Truffles, and Papa Buko, to name a few.

  12. Polilya

    A veteran in the Poblacion scene, Polilya still makes it on this list because it remains to be a hotspot for good food and even better curated drinks. Consider yourself lucky if you find a table on a weekend as it usually tends to get crowded, but that doesn’t make it any less of a worthy stop during a night out. From hoppy choices on tap care of Engkanto Brewery to their signature tipple like the Tigrita and Sandrapolitan: Have you figured out what you want yet?

  13. The Back Room

    What was supposed to be a space for Shangri-La at the Fort’s nightclub has transformed into an upscale speakeasy called The Back Room. It’s ideal for an ~extra~ special date night with your S.O. when you want a relatively quieter place to rendezvous and spark the sexual tension. Try their housemade gin called the Bee’s Knees with a splash of tonic, or choose your tipple from their cocktail categories: Jag Juice, Giggle Water, Live Wire, Moonshine, and On a Toot.

  14. Alegria Cozinha Moderna

    Ladies who love sangria should save all their kwentos and gossip for when they hit up Alegria Cozinha Moderna, aka BGC’s first sangria bar. Located at the top floor of C3 Annex in Bonifacio High Street, Alegria doesn’t offer just your regular red or white sangria—it boasts of nine carefully crafted, full-bodied sangria flavors that are perfect for your next GNO. The Sangria Vermelha is a must-try red, while their Sangria Verde has moscato, kiwi, gin and cucumber.

  15. The Odd Seoul

    Attention, K-drama kweens: Within the Korean restaurant Gaja in Poblacion lies an edgy, neon-lit, hidden bar called The Odd Seoul. This K-haunt pays tribute to Gangnam nightlife and prides itself as a soju bar, offering different twists to the traditional Korean liquor. Try the Kimchi Sour for a soju-sour mix combo, or the Yogurt Lady that actually comes with a Melona ice-pop that’s dunked into the cocktail.

  16. The Wild Poppy

    Since they revamped their space last year, The Wild Poppy feels like you’re hanging out at a friend’s backyard. While nearly every other place along Don Pedro street has a slightly more mature atmosphere, the Poppy is almost whimsical, an escape that reminds you not to take life too seriously. Their food selection is meant to be shared, while there cocktails must be enjoyed slowly. Take a sip of their Herb’s Old Fashioned or the Jungle Mule to cap off the night.

  17. The Curator

    Ask a bartender at The Curator for their best-selling cocktails, and they’ll reply with their own set of questions to help you narrow down the selection that suits your palate. Ranking #37 in Asia’s 50 Best Bars in 2019, the crew at this reputable spot is crafty in making their morning brew as they are in making their evening tipples. Heartbroken patrons should try the #Still Hurting, while the young and the stressed should get a taste of the Under Pressure.

  18. Futur:st

    The artsy crowd can find solace at a place like Futur:st, a recently opened watering hole that’s tucked away in Guerrero street in Poblacion. It’s from the same creative minds behind Today x Future in Cubao, so if you’re familiar with the laid-back, unimposing spot, that’s exactly what you’d expect out of Futur:st. Among their cocktails, the Breath of Khaleesi tastes like juice but packs a punch, while their Bad Libra and Coffee Nipple are perfect for caffeine addicts.

  19. Three Little Pigs

    The Big Bad Wolf can’t blow any little piggies’ houses down if he doesn’t know where to find them. Nestled above Sisig Society in Kapitolyo and accessed via a false brick wall (yes, really) discreetly resides Three Little Pigs, a cozy speakeasy that’s decorated with porcine artworks and illustrations and laid out with thick, chunky furniture to heighten the chill vibe. Their menu sticks to classic concoctions, such as the Whisky Sour or the Old Fashioned—their best-seller.


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