Secret bars in Manila
The concept of speakeasy bars comes from the years of prohibition when it was illegal to sell alcohol. Manila has many of these secret bars spread out in the city. They are obviously not that secret, you will find most of them on Google Maps, but it is still exciting to walk around looking for them, and then see whatever they have come up with as a cover.
This speakeasy bar is located inside the Corinta Plaza. If you enter from the backside, the entrance is through the first exit door in the hall leading to Plaza Café. If you enter through the Plaza Café, the exit door is at the far end of the hall in the back. Walking through that exit door is like entering a time machine. The room is dimly lit, with a cohesive leather sofa along the dark brown paneled walls, accompanied with round tables of imitated marble. The only sources of light are the illuminations behind the bar shelves, and the yellow and black retro lamp, acknowledging both the purpose and time period of these secret bars.
Located in the quiet side street Salcedo, nothing gives away the location before you are right outside the door. I am not going to tell you how you know, but you will absolutely get the point once you are there. Knocking on the black door, one of the bar keepers let you in and guide you to one of the booths. The lighting was of course dimmed here as well, and the large chandelier hanging from the ceiling was off. The walls were lighter here though, with metallic tiles covering parts of it. The atmosphere was peaceful with calm music from the 20’s in the background. We could almost hear the crackle from the gramophone even though it obviously was played from more modern equipment.
Oh, by the way. The location on Google Maps is slightly wrong, just to let you know.
Your clue is the 7/11 in the RCBC Bank building on 26th street. Enter the white door on the left by the counter. It leads to a small storeroom with articles like cups of noodles, tin cans and bottles of sauces. Walk through the dark curtain, and the bar will be revealed.
Bank bar has a bit different vibe then the two previous. It is a bit lighter and has a more modern feel with the open industrial style ceiling and a DJ. The marble floor tiles and the seating areas with plush chairs in soft colors soak you right back to the earlier decades again, though. The name comes from being inside a bank building, and the barkeepers wear bulletproof vests as a part of the uniform.
Do not leave without checking out the bathroom.
Lazy Bastard burgers at the corner of Jupiter st. and Galaxy host the secret bar ABV. Once you get down the stairs, turn right through the large wooded door. You will then find yourself inside a replica of an old elevator. Follow the chess tiles to the other end. This bar was more lively than the others were (could also be the fact that it was getting later), and the chatting almost drowned the contemporary music from the prohibition period.
Do not let the hordes and loud noise at The Belle&Dragon scare you away. Embrace yourself and swift your way past them, heading for the bathrooms. In the hall just outside stands a large wardrobe like the one known from The Chronicles of Narnia. And the resemblance continues; ones you open the wardrobe and enter, you pass through hanging clothes and enter at the other side. It is in fact quite cold in there, but instead of snow and winter, you find exotic interior, including a large world globe and two giant stone lions guarding the bar!
While the guests relax in the Chesterfield inspired furniture, the barkeepers serve whiskey from all corners of the world. A nice and quiet oasis!
Have you been to any of these or other speakeasy bars in Manila?