Maybe you’re at that stage in your life. You and your friends have settled down, you’ve work in the morning or lunches to pack and the thought of sweaty, smoky clubs where the music blessedly drowns out your Tinder date’s lack of conversation skills tends to inspire a little more dread than excitement. Not to mention the hangovers.
So what’s the appeal? Whether it’s comfort food, a much-needed (strong) drink after work, or a catch up session with friends where you can actually hear each other over the music you used to listen to, we’ve got you covered. Here are 4 bars for when you’ve got a bedtime to catch:
The Reserve’s Japanse-inspired Rolls
A long-time player in the bar scene, with branches in Ortigas and BGC, The Reserve starts the night with familiar 90s songs we might have been drinking to in our own heyday, giving way to a younger and livelier crowd, complete with DJs, later in the night. The food and drinks however, are thankfully a lot more sophisticated than our late 20th century favorite cheese sticks and gin-pomelos.
The menu is diverse, from Japanese-inpsired rolls to pizzas, to hangover favorites like the spicy longganisa rice bowl. The drink selection too, is familiar, but better: the whisky sour served smoked under a fishbowl brings out dusky flavors. The menus are frequently updated and it is exactly this willingness to grow that has kept The Reserve around for over eight years. But even with all the innovation, it manages to comfort us with its familiarity. And that’s what keeps us coming back.
Bar Mathilde’s Moscow Mule
If you’re looking for a homey place to drink with friends in, it might be hard to do much better than an actual house. Right smack in Makati’s Poblacion district, however, is Bar Mathilde.
The house, which might have been built in the 60s or 70s, has been converted a couple of times prior to this life, but each incarnation has kept the bones intact, the wood floors and the stairway grates, keeping the space from becoming too hip or too polished. The main bar area is where most of the action happens, with the music, the bar and most of the people. But the real attraction for introverts, and people who might juts be past the “party” stage in their lives, is the living room downstairs. Serving as a quiet area to decompress, it really does feel like drinking at a friend’s house. The menu is a small, curated selection of classic cocktails, some with homemade ginger beer in metal mugs, and a very small menu of pizzas and bar snacks, like nachos, that don’t interrupt those alcohol-fueled conversations. And if it’s “real” food you’re craving? Thankfully, the Poblacion food scene is just a few steps away.
Tipple And Slaw Amaretto Sour and Caipirinha
Tipple and Slaw
Tipple and Slaw is at least as much about the food as it is about the drinks. The menu is thoughtfully done, and it’s easy to see how much pride the chef, Francis Lim, takes in his food. Although the scene can be extremely lively on weekend nights, the earlier crowd that comes in with the more relaxed lat afternoon sun, really does seem to be in it for the grub. The drinks are a satisfying bonus.
A favorite menu item for both the Tipple and the Slaw crowds is the shawarma rice, with its mix of authentic spices and garlic making it a perfect pairing for beer, as well as an easy comfort meal. Other traditional bar classics here are livened up with impressive presentation, like the tater tots topped with crunchy angus adobo flakes, or high quality, homemade ingredients, like the drizzle of truffled honey on the grilled cheese sandwich. And the “classic with a twist” philosophy stretches seamless into the carefully curated drinks menu, with the lovely, grown-up take on an amaretto sour, and the particularly refreshing caipirinha. Both familiar and new, Tipple and Slaw might just pique our interest enough to stay up a little past our bedtimes.
Libertine Pandan Lambanog
The unusual location just happens to be the perfect space for a 24-hour bar hidden on a second floor past a freight elevator and a loading dock, the windowless interior space hiding the passage of time. With its cool neighborhood bar setting, it’s really hard to feel out of place, the industrial decor managing to be hip but not over-conceptualized.
Envisioned as a haven for industry folk where bartenders, chefs and bar owners might unwind after their own unconventional shifts, it has been embraced by the BPO industry too, with their sunrise happy hours, and business district drones seeking out the comforts of hearty food, good beer and strong cocktails after (or even before) work. While it might not strictly be cocktail bar, with the usual local beers coming in at under P100, the cocktails are skillfully mixed, using fresh fruit and homemade syrups, and poured with a delightfully heavy hand. From traditional whisky sours to more creative concoctions, such as the refreshing, syrupy pandan lambanog, served with a cone full of saog at gulaman in lola’s ornate glass tumblers. The menu, too, changes with the crowd. With reasonably priced, hangover-friendly rice pares bowls for the early mornings, to more traditional bar chow and comfort food, liked smoked salpicao and the divinely rich mac and cheese, for the later shifts. There really is something for everyone here, anytime you want it.