Drink Like a Local – While travelling and where to drink in the Philippines


If you’ve ever taken a trip with your friends, you’ve definitely had the long debates on where to go at night and what part of this visited city is more fun in the wee hours (or during the day if that’s your thing).

So you see some cheap looking flyer invites to clubs where ‘girls drink free before 12′ or you phone a an acquaintance you haven’t seen in 10 years as a last resource, however your night may end, it will be awkward. When there were only a couple of guidebooks to a city (unlike today’s 100s) and tourism wasn’t a full blown lucrative business, you could go out and find your way eventually. Today however there are too many businesses looking for your cash, distracting you from what’s really happening.

The first thing you should do is go online and go through the listings of bars and nightclubs, the problem here is that the sheer number of venues can be daunting, so have a quick look at the descriptions, decided on a couple that sound like your type, jot down the neighbourhood, leave your expectations in the room and then follow the advice below.

We decided to take 5 out of the 10 most visited cities in the world and give you tips on how to drink like a local.

-          Paris: The city of light, the city of love, the city of opportunities and beautiful French girls. That’s what you think, but unless you know where to go your nights out will be a disaster. Paris likes to be exclusive to its own and functions on some strict codes. My first advice to you is, dress the part, you will be judged on your looks. The progression is usually quite simple in France, have an aperitif, followed by some wine, then you can start on the cocktails (there has been a mushrooming cocktail bar scene latterly) Ask French people who look like the type you would befriend back home to figure out what’s happening; guidebooks and the internet will unfortunately not be very useful. A technique that works pretty well is to ask the sales people in the clothing shops you love; they will have a good in on things.

-          London: Higher up north, there is still an exclusive allure but it’s a little easier to navigate. Start your night off in one of the popular pubs in the area you believe most of the clubs you want ot be in are and enjoy some great draft beer varieties. Once seated on a stool watch the night unfold, people will start getting up, smoking outside and chatting away. This is your in, ask big groups where they are headed to after their pints. However if you are content with a good meal and some clean drinks at a Gastro Pub, the city has a lot of those to offer.

-          Bangkok: One of the easiest cities in South East Asia to navigate at night. You usually will be given a choice between expat haunts and local clubs for the late night mayhem. You will find the locals in the Ekamai, Thonglor and Ari neighbourhoods as well in the RCA strip. Foreigners will usually be seen around the Sukhumvit area (easpecially Soi 11), both ensure good times. Just make sure you are in the mood for Beer and Whisky, two favourites there.

-          New York: New Yorkers crave for information so it’s fairly easy to figure out where they drink. Pick up the latest tabloid magazine to see what clubs celebrities are stumbling out of or go online to sites like the one ran by the New York Times for the best advice on what are the new openings and the staples of the scene.

-          Hong Kong: HK is the playground of a lot of Manilenos, so chances are you already know where to go or you’ve heard you’re friends discussed in length why and how the nightlife in there is so much better than in the Philippines.

The Little Black Book:

Paris: Experimental Cocktail Club, Batofar, Curio Palor, Andy Whaloo, Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, La Calendaria, Le Carmen, La Conserverie, Le Baron, Le Montana, Le Pompon, Le Pop-In.

Bangkok: Bed, Q bar, Red Sky, RCA, WTF, Santika, Iron Fairies, The Speakeasy, Sonic

New York: Mister H, Booker and Dax, Bantam, The Wayland, Donna, Ginny’s Supper Club, La Piscine, The Vault, PDT, Death and Co, Milk and Honey, or just pick up the Esquire’s Best Bars in America issue.

 How About Locally?

The Bling Pig – Cue the dark dim lit interior, dirty jazz haunting the brick walls and too cool for school bartenders that know how to mix decent cocktails and don’t flinch when you name drop some cocktail you once read in one of those how to be a man books. This is the place where you come not too be seen, where you come to hideaway from all your sorrows and can wallow in your thoughts seated at the bar, expressing your inner Fitzgerald , serenade by the sound of shakers and the comforting whispers of other tenants.

Exit Bar – Same owners as the above. Try to look for Plaza Cafe in Legaspi Village (Gamboa Street) go straight in, look for the Exit door, enter that one, then push the second Exit door and there you are, Speakeasy goodies.

Skye - An Astro Turf Roof Top bar that can be fun.

Hyve - Same owners as the above with the exception of having a food menu designed by Rob Pengson. They haven’t full opened yet but throw parties from time to time.

Buddha Bar -If you’ve been to any of their other establishments around the world, nothing here will surprise you, which, in itself is actually quite surprising, since they’ve managed to maintain the authentic experience felt while listening to those numerous albums back in that day, when Asia just started becoming sexy. Come here if you want to be with a lot of people without feeling crowded.

Handle Bar -The place we love to hate. Your typical biker bar with a mix of long staying expats, their girlfriends and loud rock music; but it seems that we just can’t get enough of it. As new shiny bars come and go, handle bar remains unchanged, real and loud. Perfect for a late night capper or for one of those days you really don’t want to dress up. Come down in your pyjamas, seriously, no one will care.

Opus – An impressive space that would fit well in any fashionable capital city, with its sleek interiors, flat set up and two bars that help makes the crowd more bearable. Run by the same group as Republic, if you’re lucky to know any of them, you might just be lucky enough to take the back door from the Lounge to the Club. Opus has become the flagship lounge of this development group, we still miss Cuisine though.

Draft (Rockwell, The Fort, Greenbelt) -If you haven’t figured it out, they serve Draft beer here in a very clean rectangular space with a summer beer garden feel that you may find in the alleys of Budapest or Tokyo. Do not come here if you don’t enjoy your beer because they do not serve much of anything else.

Distillery the Fort – Come here if you want to drink in an intimate setting.

Bugsys the Fort – Strong with the after work crowd.

Murphy’s -Ever watch Friends or How I Met Your Mother and wish you and your group had a pub where you can kick back after work and just talk nonsense. Murphy’s is the only British style pub in Makati and is a great place to catch up and watch the games.

Big Bad Wolf – A more laid back drinking atmosphere tucked behind a building in the fort. They have some fun get togethers sometimes.

Bar M – My go to Whisky Bar.

Saguijo -One of the longest standing live band venues in the metro, you can spend night on end here, sitting on the floor listening to upcoming and seasoned musical groups that preform here like they were in their back yard.

B-Side -Want to experience deep bass that you can feel in your bones and reverberating through your body? B-side is a music haven for all thing dub step and experimental. Set in the artsy collective, it makes for a fun night out when you don’t want to be bothered by anyone. People come here for the music.

M Café/Kabila- You will find more expats than Filipinos in this restaurant turn bar, especially on their increasingly popular Thursday nights, when it seems all the young expatriate population working in Manila descends to Greenbelt and bop their heads all night to an always dedicated DJ lineup.

Rocket Room – Same owners as the above. Hip young crowd and good music, especially on Thursdays.

Prive – Do you like being surrounded by beautiful people? This is the place to be, when they are not in Republic or in Opus, they are most probably at Prive.

Las Flores – A great solid cocktail list run by enthusiastic and passionate owners. Great for late night eats and just hanging around all night with a solid group of friends.

Reserve – The hang out spot of the south, there isn’t a night in the week when it isn’t packed. It might just be the generous familiarity, with music you listen to in your car and tables so close it’s easy to make friends.

Borough – New York inspired by a an ex Big Apple citizen/chef who established himself in the Ortigas area and wanted to bring a little piece of home with him. Drink some straight bourbon with a tall glass of milk and some cookies.

Citizen – Beer + Burgers, Brooklyn Inspired.

Prohibtion – The hidden Speakeasy in Dillingers.

I’m sure i’m missing quite a few. I will just keep adding them here as we go.

I’m also opening a craft cocktail bar sometime in September in the Fort. It will be called Niner Ichi Nana. Watch out for it ;)



    1. Scubachef July 12, 2013 at 5:00 am

      Hey what about 7840 TIME on Makati Avenue? That’s a proper underground club. The music is nothing like anywhere where they all play commercial and pop.




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