Mar 20, 2019

Sometimes you just want to grab a drink but don’t really want to have to deal with the Friday night crowds. But there are times when drinking at home isn’t fun enough. The compromise? Head over to a speakeasy.

Now I know, in concept, we’re not really supposed to talk about speakeasies; that’s the charm of it. That it’s not supposed to be publicized. But because we’re all friends here (wink wink), I’m sharing with you six secret bars you can try out if you, like me, just want to grab a drink and enjoy it in peace, without having to think about screaming over loud, bass-boosted music, or squeezing through a crowd.

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Int. Bar

Cubao Expo, Gen. Romulo Ave., Cubao, Quezon City

nolisoli int bar
The cocktails at Int. Bar are named after classic films. Photo by JP Talapian
nolisoli int bar
To get to the bar, find the photo booth with the red curtain in Cubao Expo. While the space may seem small once you enter, there are more seats on the second floor. Photo by JP Talapian

You know how usually commemorative photos get taken after the get-together? Well at this bar, you have to take the photos first before you even get to enter. Cubao Expo is home to this “little” red photo booth, beyond which is a moody speakeasy with drinks named after classic films.

(READ: This film-inspired speakeasy is hidden in a photo booth)

The Odd Seoul/Gaja

2F Zentro Building, Kalayaan Ave., Makati

The interiors of Gaja
Inside Odd Seoul

Inspired by the nightlife of South Korea’s upscale and trendy Gangnam district, The Odd Seoul is a dark, neon-lit space inside modern Korean restaurant Gaja. Inside Odd Seoul, you get treated to the nighttime view of Poblacion, Makati. Beyond the secret door (which you can only open by lifting a soju bottle along the wall), lies the other world of Gaja. Best to start at Gaja to get your fill of Korean dishes—the sous vide galbijjim is a must-try—before drinking the night away at the secret bar.


45 Guadalupe St., Morning Breeze Subdivision, Caloocan

Tarpaulin signs along the road are the only indications that you’re near SomethingSomething. Keep your eyes peeled for the neon sign of a maneki neko or lucky cat. Photo by Danica Condez

Umakara or sweet-spicy glazed wings. Photo by Danica Condez

While not exactly a speakeasy, SomethingSomething comes close: Tucked inside a residential area of Caloocan, the hole-in-the-wall bar features a menu with an assortment of influences. Quintessential American fare like chicken wings gets Asian twists through umakara or sweet-spicy glaze, while other bar staples like beer are made new with the addition of flavor, like their raspberry beer. It’s almost like anything goes at SomethingSomething, and for a spontaneous night out, isn’t that just fitting?


2F West, Katipunan Ave., White Plains, Quezon City

Beside shelves carrying bottles of alcohol and liquor are shelves filled to the brim with 9,000 vinyl records. Photo by Danica Condez

If your goal is to really sit back and unwind, this jazz bar in White Plains, Quezon City should be your next hang-out spot. 78-53-86 is a simple but sleek space, where you can enjoy any of their 9,000 vinyl records played on a restored ’50s sound system while sipping on handcrafted cocktails. Munch on some truffle oil popcorn while you’re at it.

(If you’re from the south, they also have a jazz bar in Salcedo Village, Makati called 78-45-33.)

(READ: This 15-seater bar has over 9,000 vinyl records)


W City Center, 30th St., cor. 7th Ave., Bonifacio Global City

Nomu’s matcha amaretto sour.
Ducky Punch, a fruity vodka-based drink (it has watermelon and lemon). 

Stuck in BGC on a Friday night but not up for the big clubs? Hide in one of BGC’s speakeasies, Nomu. It’s behind the black door at the back of the bright and healthy restaurant Nomi Matcha. Inspired by Japanese Zen gardens, the bar also features a number of special Japanese whiskey. Also try their signature cocktails, such as the Matcha Sour and the quirky Ducky Punch.

(READ: This new speakeasy is hidden inside a matcha resto)

The Back Room

30th St., Shangri-la at the Fort, Bonifacio Global City

nolisoli eats bar back room
Gin and tonic made with The Back Room’s own Bee’s Knees gin. The Bee’s Knees gin uses dalandan, malunggay, and sampaguita as some of its key ingredients. Photo by Samantha Ong
nolisoli eats bar back room
The Back Room’s collection of gin and liquor. Photo by Samantha Ong

For a true speakeasy experience—where you’ll really have to look and ask around to find the spot—try finding The Back Room at Shangri-la at the Fort. Once you finally get there, you’ll get transported into the ’20s prohibition era, complete with velvet couches, glamorous Art Deco lamps, and even people in vintage dress. The highlight is their selection of more than 120 brands of gin. Try their house original: the Bee’s Knees. Also check out their selection of cocktails, which come with interesting conversation-starting notes clipped onto the glasses.

(READ: Can you find this ’20s-themed speakeasy?)


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TAGS: bgc hidden bars makati manila QC speakeasies where to drink in manila