Makati Speakeasies Making Noise By Keeping It Hush-Hush
The term “speakeasy,” also known as “blind pig” or “blind tiger,” was a Prohibition Era term for illicit bars and nightclubs selling alcoholic beverages. Today, speakeasies have become quite popular in bar scenes around the world. And in Metro Manila, most of them are found in the heart of Makati. Secret entrances, passwords, vintage decor, dim lighting—the covertness is what makes these establishments so alluring, much like a secret you must discover. And below are eight Makati “secrets” we can’t wait to share with you:
It started as a well guarded secret: no address that one could easily Google, a contact number that frequently changed, a closed doorway with a sliding peephole and an obscure signage in braille. Fortunately (or unfortunately—it depends on how you feel about secrets), the bar that pioneered the speakeasy scene in Manila has come out of obscurity. It couldn’t be helped, since a secret so delicious could never stay a secret for too long.
Secret or not, Blind Pig prides itself in maintaining its pristine reputation for providing not only quality service, but exclusivity, privacy and propriety. In fact, quite a number of people (including celebrities) have been shunned for missing a reservation or daring to not even make one!
Should you be granted entry, prepare to be transported to the 1920s Prohibition Era. You’ll be twitching to IG this unique time-warp experience, but we recommend you savor it instead. Besides, flash photography isn’t allowed within the dimly lit premises, illuminated only by candles, wall lamps and a lone chandelier in the center. Focus instead on relishing the signature Prohibition Era cocktails (go classic with Gold Rush, which is a mix of whisky, honey and fresh lemon juice), the delectable bar fare (do try the Caviar Pie) and simply indulging peacefully in the moment (or, in this case, the past!).
227 Salcedo St., Legaspi Village, Makati
M-Th & Sun: 6PM to 2AM, F-Sa: 6PM to 3AM
Exit Bar is owned by the same group behind Blind Pig. Unlike her stringent big brother, however, Exit Bar plays the easygoing little sister who will greet you with open arms (read: reservations unnecessary). She’ll let you hang out with her while you both listen to rock and roll music, and imbibe drink after drink of her impressive libations. The drink menu includes local and imported beers (including Guinness, Sapporo and Stella Artois) and a lineup of creative cocktails, from which we recommend you try De Rigeur (bourbon, grapefruit juice and honey) and Old Sport (gin, lemon, mint and cucumber).
At Exit Bar, there are no inhibitions, no judgments, so you can freely indulge in a lively drinking session with friends or nurse your drink du jour for a quiet night of unwinding. The clue to finding this place is in its name. From Greenbelt 1, walk toward Corinthian Plaza (across AIM) and look for Plaza Cafe. Behind the sandwich shop, head to the second exit, push it open and voila!
Corinthian Plaza, 121 Paseo De Roxas, Legaspi Village, Makati
Call (2) 551 1283 for reservations
Daily: 5:30PM onward
The first step in finding this gem of a place is to locate the Lazy Bastard, a small modern burger and hotdog shack. Don’t worry—it sports a huge, hard-to-miss illuminated signage with an arrow pointed toward the entrance. Case the joint for a seemingly out-of-place antique elevator shaft (hint: it’s behind a large wooden door). Knock and the maître d’ may ask you for the password. Say “a glass of giggle water, please” (and pray it still works!). This may all seem too cloak and dagger when you’re simply looking for a good stiff drink to wind down with after a hard day, but once you’re inside ABV, you’ll appreciate the effort in keeping the bar as private as possible—because a quiet place, boasting a plethora of signature drinks to match any mood, is what awaits you.
The industrial interiors hark back to 1920s New York, resembling the setting of a classic detective film noir: murky mood lighting emanating from bare bulb pendant fixtures, masculine tufted leather bench seats and swivel barstools, black and white checkerboard flooring, and skilled bartenders who’d be happy to play the role of confidante for as long as you need them to be. Of course, the menu is just as impressive. Order the ten-ounce Angus steak with a glass of Lazy Old Fashioned (in-house bacon infused Bulleit Bourbon, maple syrup, chocolate bitters, crispy honeyed bacon strip, orange peel, served over an ice block) and you’ll be set for the night. It doesn’t come as a surprise then that ABV ranked top 14 and was one of only two bars from the Philippines (The Curator is the other) that made it on Drinks International's first Asia's 50 Best Bars list for 2016.
Basement Level, 22 Jupiter St. cor. Galaxy, Bel-Air, Makati
Call (2) 832 5330, Text (917) 520 1608 for reservations, or Visit abv.ph
M-Sa: 5PM to 4AM, Su: 5PM to 12MN
If you’re looking for a small bar with a spirited atmosphere (pun intended there) to match the lively concoctions it offers, then Finders Keepers is the place. Just head over to Black Market along Chino Roces and instead of entering the club, go to the right where there is a nondescript door that will lead you to the swinging speakeasy. Once inside, expect elbow-to-elbow gyrating on the crowded dance floor, upbeat EDM or dance beats to keep everybody pumping and strapping mixologists in muscle shirts to serve any drink you fancy (try the F*K Martini!, which has a lighter, more floral gin with a dry white Vermouth and a lemon twist). Don’t expect to find a table—although you might be lucky enough to be offered a seat since sharing is a house rule to encourage meeting new friends.
While the dim scarlet-lit bar hardly gives you a chance to eyeball the interiors, there are a few decorating touches worth noting—such as the huge Finders Keepers signage lighting over the bar that serves as a focal point, the delicate Tiffany-style stained glass lamps that seem too delicate to belong in a rollicking bar, a bench swing in the corner, and black and white filigree floor tiles reminiscent of the art deco movement prominent in the 20s. The interiors are kitschy and fun, much like the atmosphere that the place emanates and the crowd it attracts. Finders Keepers is a place to dance, let loose, meet new people—and if you don’t find that appealing, your big loss. As they say, losers weepers.
Warehouse 5, La Fuerza Plaza, Chino Roces Ave. corner Sabio St., San Lorenzo, Makati
Call (2) 403 3955, Text (917) 533 9455 or Email [email protected]
Tu-Sa: 8PM-5AM, Su-Mo: closed
FK Balls Jell-O shot cocktail