SE­CRET BARS

Will your irate mi­sis be able to track you to these joints?

FHM (Philippines) - - Contents - WORDS: PEEJO pi­lar; pho­tog­ra­phy: jonathan Bal­don­ado

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

ABV

Thirsty

RM-16

Bank BAR

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