Whether you’re on a date, just hanging out with friends, or looking for an ideal spot for after dinner drinks or a nightcap, here’s a short list of five of the coolest new bars to open in the metro.
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Aftersesh Bar at Hola
G/F Pebble Building, Acqua Private Residences, Coronado, Mandaluyong City, (0917) 627-5382
Don’t let its off-the-beaten-path Mandaluyong location deter you from discovering this bar. It is actually just a short ride from the Makati Avenue-Rockwell area, literally just across the Pasig River from Rockwell. Located inside the Hola Eat Drink Play restaurant, this bar is a reincarnation of a popular old surf town bar in La Union with the same name, where Aftersesh part-owner/bartender Glenn Talavera used to serve his creative concoctions.
At its new riverside promenade location, Hola’s beautifully decorated communal space serves as the ideal backdrop for Talavera’s one-of-a-kind libations like the Rumporado, a rum-based champorado-inspired cocktail served with a side of fried dulong.
Another “savory” concoction is The Bulalo, made with a bone marrow fat-washed lambanog and served with toast with marrow butter. The mongo or mung beans-inspired Friday’s Only comes with avocado, tinapa cream, and ampalaya marmalade.
Also, thanks to Aftersesh being located inside a restaurant, you can enjoy a full meal at the bar. And for those who want to get an early start on the drinking—the bar is open as early as 10 am!
Matheus Building, General Luna Street, Poblacion, Makati City, (0917) 561-2828, Instagram @anejo.mnl
This modern minimalist bi-level bar can be found on the ground floor of a building dominated by laundromats (including one comically called the Hard Wash Café) right smack in the vibrant nightlife district of Poblacion. Añejo is a passion project of a young couple, whose early dating years were filled with fond memories made more memorable by bottles of their favorite tequila. The cozy space currently seats only around 20, with the mezzanine level dining area still in the works.
Añejo is a bar with a mission—to give tequila a good name or better reputation, not just meant for body shots. It is also introducing other agave spirits like mezcal and sotol that are not readily available in the local market.
Bar operations are handled by Loren Cabalde, a young and talented bartender who first made his mark in the local bartending scene when he made it to the final round of the Diageo Worldclass Philippines competition last year. At Añejo, he executes a cocktail program designed by one of the country’s top female bartending talents, Kathrin Osmillo.
Must-try cocktails include Cabalde’s refreshing signature Mayahuel that induces a temporary sensory overload thanks to the use of special flowers or button as garnish. Those wanting a faster buzz can’t go wrong with the bar’s version of the Vesper Martini, while those looking for a refreshing introduction to tequila may want to start with a Tequila Sour.
G/F Somerset Millennium, 104 Aguirre Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City, email [email protected]
This bar’s name is a play on the ten codes or ten signals used in radio communication, with 10-4 signifying “okay.” Incidentally, the name also refers to its actual street address, 104 Aguirre Street. This sleek yet friendly, neighborhood bar has a homey inviting vibe thanks to the communal long wooden table that acts as its bar counter, which lets guests get up close and personal with the bartenders.
One shouldn’t underestimate Bar 10-4 as it boasts a solid team composed mostly of ABV alumni, headed by one of the country’s top female bartenders, Abby Quilal-lan. You can stick with the standard classics here, or go for the bar’s solid selection of signature cocktails. Created by Quilal-lan, 10-2 (“the signal is good” in ten code) is a very refreshing and well-balanced twist on a bee’s knees that’s garnished with pickled guava.
Meaning “exercise caution” in ten code, 10-0 is a more spirit-hefty lechon fat-washed bourbon-based concoction crafted by one of 10-4’s other bartenders, Francis Gonzales. 10-24 is a peated whisky-based cocktail finished with a generous shot of heated absinthe for added punch. A cocktail by Jeff Gonzales, it means “over and out” as you are bound to call it a night after imbibing this super tasty spirit forward drink, my early favorite here.
If you get hungry, the bar has a limited menu of tasty Japanese bites, ranging from Fried Gyozas, Salmon Flakes and Pickled Plum Onigiri or rice balls, to skewers of Chicken Yakitori. You also have the option of ordering Filipino food from Somerset’s Abuela restaurant if you are not in the mood for Japanese.
6109 Albert Street, Poblacion, Makati City, (0917) 777-1633, Instagram @kondwi.ph
This new bi-level gallery/restaurant/bar and retail space is one of the most interesting additions to the ever evolving Poblacion night scene. It features a large gallery space on the second level where artists and other creatives can mount exhibits and events. The main level, on the other hand, is used to showcase functional art and furniture available for sale. The space is complemented by a purple-lit bar currently being managed by one of the country’s top bartenders, Lloyd Misagal.
The bar is the ideal base from where you can experience the different activities on offer at this ever evolving space. While there, check out the addicting twist on the Pork Sinigang served on the stick minus the soup and best enjoyed with the light and refreshing Green Sky, a London dry gin-based concoction flavored with a splash of cucumber juice and lemon, and a dollop of green tomato jam.
Kondwi’s signature Kondwi Sour is another interesting twist on a whisky sour, but with the addition of homemade ginger shrub for added zing, making it taste like a good marriage between two of my favorite cocktails, the whisky sour and penicillin.
Eksena sa Tagpuan
5966 Fermina Street, Poblacion, Makati City, (0956) 281-5054, Instagram @eksenasatagpuan
Tagpuan is La Union’s popular Tagpuan sa San Juan’s new Poblacion sibling. Thankfully, it has successfully transported to Makati its cheap and delicious Pinoy comfort food dishes like Pork Bagnet Rice and a dry version of Beef Pares Rice, soon to be available for lunch as well. The menu makes the spot an instant pre-game favorite for those who want to fill their stomachs with affordable, hearty eats before they go bar hopping around Poblacion. But for those who want to stay on, there is a speakeasy bar on the second floor called Eksena. It’s a fairly laid back, no frills bar, that is nonetheless cozy and well-appointed.
The bar offers classic crowd-favorites like margaritas and mojitos, together with standard bar pours. There are plans to serve more local craft beers and spirits, together with the usual suspects like Johnnie Walker, GlennfIddich, Hendricks, and so on. later on.
The wallet-friendly prices (most drinks are below P200) ensure that this new watering hole should eventually become a popular choice for late-night drinking and dining sessions. Eksena wins plus points for keeping the music at a level where you can engage in meaningful banter with friends.
Photos by Chris Clemente
Follow the author on Instagram and Twitter @cyrenedelaros