3 new hidden bars you need to try in Manila

Enjoy the city’s latest worst-kept secrets

The Back Room

  • What to expect: The interiors, music and staff uniforms by designer Francis Libiran take you back to 1920s USA, when Prohibition birthed the original speakeasies. The Back Room’s shelves are lined with more than 150 labels of gin, including their very own locally made Bee’s Knees
  • Entry point: Look for the giant black door near the 30th St entrance of Shangri-La at the Fort, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
  • Must-try: Lipstick Knot (gin with raspberry) and Dirty Sanchez (mezcal with bacon and “holy smoke”)
  • Bar star: Ulysse Jouanneaud, who’s been the head mixologist behind a number of Shangri-La’s restaurants and bars in Manila and Abu Dhabi
  • Added flourish: The Back Room’s Laboratory, which allows guests to make their own gin

IG: @backroomph


  • What to expect: A modern speakeasy, featuring a curated selection of classic Japanese whisky and cocktails — perfect for a small, private gathering of up to 25 people
  • Entry point: Nomi café on 5th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
  • Must-try: Vodka-based Watermelon Smash and, of course, the Japanese whisky
  • Bar star: Award-winning Cedric Cello (whose cocktail Gossip earned him the La Maison Cointreau Manila championship in 2016), who’s made the rounds at Hooch, M Café and Smith Butcher and Grill Room
  • The extra touch: A Minimalist painting by ceramic artist Shiro Tsujimura (and if you visit often enough, you might get
    a treat)

IG: nomubgc

The Odd Seoul

  • What to expect: A soju bar inspired by the party atmosphere of Seoul’s Gangnam district, courtesy of the same team behind Tittos Latin BBQ & Brew and RM-16. The Odd Seoul features the complete range of Jinro soju flavors, plus all the famous mixers in Seoul including aloe juice, yogurt and Korean beers
  • Entry point: Gaja Korean Kitchen along Kalayaan Avenue, Poblacion, Makati
  • Must-try: Kimchi sour, a soju-infused version of the amaretto sour
  • Bar star Chef Marc Justin Tee, who’s won at the Global Taste of Korea Contest (second prize in 2014) and studied at the Woosong Culinary Academy in Daejeon, South Korea
  • Fun favor: Everyone gets a free soju shot when a cowbell gets rung at midnight on weekdays


This article first appeared in the December 2018 issue of Smile magazine.

Written by

Elka Requinta

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