Our Fa­vorite Bar of 2017


W “e went there for ev­ery­thing we needed. We went there when thirsty, of course, and when hun­gry, and when dead tired. We went there when happy, to cel­e­brate, and when sad, to sulk. We went there when look­ing for love, or sex, or trouble, or for some­one who had gone miss­ing, be­cause sooner or later ev­ery­one turned up there. Most of all we went there when we needed to be found.”

That’s my fa­vorite quote from one of my fa­vorite books, J.R. Moehringer’s “The Ten­der Bar”. I re­visit its pages of­ten, and I don’t have to stay too long. Just for a shot, if you will. A mem­o­rable pas­sage, some­thing to take the edge of a long day; I take com­fort in the fa­mil­iar, and I smile, close the book, and walk away.

Come to think of it, that’s re­ally how I like my bars too. For ev­ery­thing I need, when I need it: booze, food, women – and not nec­es­sar­ily in that or­der. I don’t have to stay too long; just long enough to soothe my mood. And in the case of my new fa­vorite, not-so-ten­der bar, OTO? There’s one thing more: mu­sic. Be­cause mu­sic and al­co­hol go hand in hand to­gether; drink­ing is never com­plete with­out a sound­track, and the songs will al­ways res­onate more with a drink in hand. With com­pany or alone, that I know is true. It’s fit­ting that in Ja­panese, “Oto” trans­lates to “Sound”.

It’s ac­tu­ally a “lis­ten­ing room” dis­guised as a bar, or vice versa: de­pend­ing on

the time of day or night. All the bells and whis­tles – two high-end turnta­bles, tube am­pli­fiers, gi­gan­tic speak­ers, and an out­stand­ing se­lec­tion of vinyl rep­re­sen­ta­tive of all eras: from Fleet­wood Mac’s “Ru­mors” to Air’s “Moon Sa­fari” (think Daft Punk, but sex­ier) to the

Foo Fighters’ “Great­est” to Amer­i­can Jazz Stan­dards to the new­est Hip Hop. Hun­dreds of what Ti­tos and Ti­tas call “LPs”, now sud­denly adored again by Mil­len­ni­als. Time spent in OTO is time well spent; on quiet af­ter­noons there -- the best time to se­ri­ously en­joy a drink, in my opin­ion – I can se­lect my songs, and cre­ate a per­sonal “mix tape”, and I trans­form into John Cu­sack in “High Fidelity.”

The pretty ladies at the bar in­dulge me, Kate and Coleen. Both badass bar­tenders, who ex­pertly make my fa­vorite cock­tail, the “En­riquez”. I tell ev­ery­one it’s named af­ter me, and it can very well be, be­cause spiced rum and tablea choco­lates are in the mix, but it’s ac­tu­ally named af­ter the street in the Pobla­cion where the bar stands. Cock­tail ser­vice, by the way, be­gins at 6pm, but it is open for food and cof­fee from 10am on­wards. Beers and wine are avail­able for de­light­ful af­ter­noon tip­ples, and in the gloam­ing, once the sun sets, you may bump into the mastermind be­hind OTO, David Ong. He’s also the man be­hind The Cu­ra­tor and the EDSA Bev­er­age De­sign Stu­dio, so you know you’re in very good hands with your cock­tails and caf­feine. I’ll leave it at that, suf­fice to say, most of the leg­ends that sur­round David take place in the wee small hours of the morn­ing, when the mu­sic played gets louder, and the drinks, much stronger.

I know you’ll prob­a­bly see me there one of these days. And if you do, let’s share a drink or two. I know we will. Be­cause sooner or later, ev­ery­one turns up in OTO.

02 02

04 1 EN­RIQUEZ tablea in­fused spiced rum, sweet ver­mouth, or­ange bit­ters 2 Teriyaki Glazed Kushiyaki 3 Char­siu Pasta 4 David Ong 5 #RELIGIONBLACK rum, lime, black sesame syrup, shiso 6 OTO In­te­ri­ors




06 05 OTO is lo­cated at 5880 En­riquez Street, Barangay Pobla­cion, Makati City


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