A makeshift chandelier of plastic green toy guns hangs from the ceiling. The general interior situation is something of a crime den, where bosses and goons discuss plans on velvet sofas. The floor tiling wouldn’t look out of place in an Art Deco exhibit. In a place like this, which feels noir but in a Blade Runner kinda way, you could get a beer—but in a place that makes you feel like mafia material, it just makes sense to get something a little more imaginative.
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That’s the kind of bar Bang Bang is. It’s not quite a speakeasy since it’s easy to find—a staircase in the back of VBQ, the Poblacion barbeque joint that’s making every samgyupsal in the city look basic as hell, will lead you to the rooftop where Bang Bang is. The vacant side of the rooftop, aside from being a wide smoking area, will eventually become a space for parties, DJs, al fresco celebrations of all sorts. But the real action is inside Bang Bang, which greets you with green neon lighting and the faint smell of bitters and aromatics. A row of glass jars filled with dried citrus rinds and cinnamon sticks line the countertop. Bang Bang takes its cocktails very seriously, but if the toy guns are any indication, they’re also playful about their mixology.
Exhibit A: the Pride and Tonic, an iridescent gin-based drink with silver glitter. Floating in the gin and tonic water mix are four ice cubes, each a different color and fruity accent: strawberry, lemon, blue pea, and cucumber. As the ice cubes melt, the Pride and Tonic takes on different shades of flavor. Each sip is its own experience.
This theme of playfulness is consistent with most of the drinks in Bang Bang’s menu. The Chinese Mafia and Mr. Love are tropical drinks that both make use of passionfruit and lime in different bases, and are served in Tiki heads. Free As a Jungle Bird, which uses Jasmine tea infused rum as its base and possesses strong notes of lychee, is served in glass modeled after a macaw. The Straw Viet Tini is a personal favorite--sweet as a dessert but not cloying, using Vietnamese coffee infused vodka and strawberry milk.
If you haven’t guessed by now, these are meant to be natural complements to the barbeque dinner you might’ve had downstairs at VBQ, which is why so many drinks here used spiked teas. Case in point: the MILF Tea, which is your basic boba tea but with a splash of oolong infused reposado tequila.
It’s understandable, though, if you opt to just get something like a whisky sour at Bang Bang—some drinks can be pretty over the top. The Summer Hangover, for example, is a heady tropical treat made from coconut rum and cucumber-infused gin combined which cherry, orange, lime and pine flavors, with the glass served in a small unicorn salbabida. It’s a drink for the ‘gram, but not something you order every night you’re out.
Just wait for Bang Bang to get its legs. It’s carving out a niche in Poblacion as a bar for those who prefer to be adventurous with their cocktails, but are sick of globe-sized margarita bowls. Black Market’s and the Finders crowd could easily migrate here and feel entirely at home. Whether you’re looking for an after-dinner hangout spot or a ride-the-night-out kinda sitch, look for the rooftop bar with the toy guns.
Photographs by Chris Clemente