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Indulgent or intimate? This Poblacion speakeasy offers both sides

Indulgent or intimate? This Poblacion speakeasy offers both sides

  • Virtue & Vice is a bar split in two—a speakeasy for intimate conversations over drinks, and a hangout for nights you won’t remember
Virtue & Vice

Drinking is a timeless activity but for some adults who have eclipsed their party era and are unable to match the city’s youthful energy, many find themselves saying “I’m too old for this” frequently.

But for those looking for more intimate nights over drinks, Virtue & Vice hasn’t forgotten about you.

[READ: Neon lights to fill your lonely nights at the reimagined Lan Kwai Speakeasy]

“We wanted to make a place that covers both extremes and everything in between. Want to bring a date somewhere classy? Go to Virtue. Want to meet new people and rave ‘til the sun comes up? Go to Vice. Want to chill outside while drunkenly philosophizing or debating with your friends? We have our al fresco area,” says Virtue & Vice co-owners Katrina Ortiz and Allister Omengan.

At Virtue, a relaxed and almost home-like atmosphere on the sixth level beckons intimate conversations as opposed to the fleeting interactions with strangers we commonly associate with drunken nights out.

“Vice” | Photos from @virtueandvice.mnl/Instagram

Below it is Vice, which for Ortiz and Omengan is “for our adventurous guests who might want to indulge sinfully without inhibitions.” They describe the space as “a bit less polished and a whole more ratchet.”

Fun fact: The name Virtue & Vice was coined by their consultant Jespher Millano of Año Concepts. “It was either that or Ebb and Flow but we decided to go with it because the shorthand for Virtue & Vice could be “VV” whereas for Ebb and Flow—baka gamitin nila ‘Ebs.’”

Additionally, the concept of the upstairs space was also based on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, where virtue, which is also referred to as arete or excellence, would lead to eudaimonia, which is roughly described as a state of happiness—where Virtue hopefully leads guests to.

Honey miso wings

The delineation between spaces is also evident in their menu, where bar chows and signature drinks differ in complexity—from honey miso wings, chicharon with guacamole, and cocktails based on mythologies such as Pandora’s Box, The Fall of Icarus, and Scylla and Charybdis in Virtue to hard-hitting punch bowl cocktails in Vice. 

Pandora’s Box
True to its name, the Virtue & Vice signature cocktail comes with a dramatic reveal

For those heading up on Virtue, try the Abduction of Persephone, a mix of gin turmeric, lemon, and garbanzos, and the Icarus, a fiery blend of whiskey, orgeat, orange, and cinnamon. Notable mentions include the Talaria, which features vodka, passion fruit, and hibiscus, and Pandora’s Box, a surprise combination of Malibu rum, pineapple, hibiscus, and cranberry.

But for those looking for an extra punch at Vice keep an eye out for the Sarang-Hey”, which features a mix of soju, yogurt, gin, sprite, aloe vera juice, and melon, and the Upside Down, a concoction of tequila, lime juice, agave syrup, beer, and pomelo juice.

While other spots hold weekly themed events such as K-pop night or trivia night, at Virtue & Vice, they have what they call Spirits & Stories where they invite knowledgeable speakers to discuss certain topics and schools of thought. 

It was brought about by a desire to replicate the phenomena of friends having deep conversations on politics, philosophy, religion, or any other niche topic, and bringing it into a bar setting.

Chicharon with guacamole
Abduction of Persephone

Their first topic was a discussion on death by Dr. Marc Pasco, one of the founder’s past college professors.

“A shared attribute of these events is that they tend to bank on superficial or fleeting interactions between guests. We wanted something deeper and more intimate, which would be appropriate for a space like Virtue. We wanted to attract like-minded individuals and to have them bond and get to know each other,” says Ortiz and Omengan.

Since then, they’ve invited speakers such as Dr. Rica Cruz to lead a discussion on psychology and sex, Atty. Yvonne Ricaro to facilitate a tarot reading session, and even storytelling time by Anna Ong.

Lately, they’ve taken the concept further and partnered with Hohol Events for a series called Next Slide Please, where guests can hold drunken PowerPoint presentations. Some interesting topics covered include: why centaurs are BS, why Kween Yasmin should be a national artist, and what is the “true” center of Metro Manila. 

Talk about a modern take on the Socratic Method.

Virtue & Vice is open Thursday and Sunday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Friday to Saturday from 6 p.m. til late.

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