Will your irate misis be able to track you to these joints?
Everybody loves a bit of mystery. A puzzle, a maze, a riddle. These things challenge our very thoughts and provoke us to solve them. That’s why tucked-away speakeasies are extremely charming. There’s that feeling that you’re conquering something, something that not everybody will discover. And of course, this carries with it a certain level of exclusivity as well.
There’s nothing new about all these hidden bars. All over the world, you can find (or in some instances, not find) these watering holes. Manila has in recent years started to accumulate a good number of them. Behind a soda vending machine, carefully situated in a convenience store closet or pantry, or even just simply in the back of a barber shop. The creativity and initial design of these bars are both beautiful and awe-inspiring. But as with all things, new will they find that they have become passing fancy, sooner rather than later?
The obvious response that you will hear from bar owners is, no.
“Hidden bars will not fade or just become a fad, as compared with bigger clubs and bars which need to revamp every two or three years,” Terence Lim, Co-founder and Managing Partner of RM-16 in Kapitolyo, Pasig, says. “People will go to Valkyrie or Revel to be seen and for them to meet other people, but our clients go to the Room in order to talk with good friends and enjoy the calm and unique vibe of the place. The elegance of having this type of bar is that we can interact with our customers more and build a longer lasting relationship. Not only as customer or a patron, but by letting them feel that they are a part of RM-16.”
Abba Napa, Restaurateur and Founding Partner of The Moment Group believes in the strength of Bank Bar, located in BGC. “We created Bank’s value to be from its atmosphere and its offering, and not simply because it is situated behind a convenience store. I believe if you deliver on the product and the experience, you will stand the test of time,” Napa says.
ABV’S (in Makati) proprietor Patrick Cuartero does feel that the concept of the hidden bar may be indeed fading, but agrees with Napa on what may spell the difference in going the distance. “A great venue with a great product, wonderful service, and an overall amazing experience (aka “a great bar”) will be timeless,” Cuartero says. “To this day, we still get new faces walking into our bar. And 90 percent of the time, we see their reactions as soon as they walk in. For me, it’s one of the most gratifying parts of having put ABV together.”
All three owners are confident that their speakeasies have strengths that are enough to stand the test of time. Be it the atmosphere that DJS may create, excellent bar chow, the superior cocktails that their mixologists can whip up, or that special bond that customers and bars have that could actually last forever. In the meantime, we have the extreme pleasure of discovering these delicious and intoxicating little secrets.
SECRET INSIDE BAR