THIRSTY BAR­BER: OLD-SCHOOL COOL

Hid­den be­hind trick book­cases inside a bar­ber­shop is a speakeasy—quite an un­likely but lovely com­bi­na­tion

Real Living (Philippines) - - Get Inspired Rooms For Inspiration - pho­tog­ra­phy HANS FAUSTO spic­to­rial di­re­ac­tion TALA SINGSON styling as­sis­tant KAMILA GAR­CIA words BUB­BLES SAL­VADOR

In the fa­mous stretch of Wilson Street in San Juan, the idea of get­ting a hair­cut and get­ting a drink af­ter­ward didn’t ex­ist un­til a group of friends came to­gether and thought of col­lab­o­rat­ing on a “project.”

One was al­ready a co-owner of Felipe and Sons Bar­ber­dash­ery, an­other a foodie, and an­other part­ner was into op­er­a­tions. One idea led to an­other, and the three de­cided on a unique food and bev­er­age con­cept: Thirsty Bar­ber was born.

What in­spired it was the Blind Bar­ber in New York, a mod­ern pub hid­den be­hind a bar­ber­shop. At that time, Felipe and Sons was on a quest to con­quer the San Juan area, so the tim­ing was right. “The con­cept of a speakeasy bar is some­thing new to the Philip­pine mar­ket, the good old clients of Felipe and Sons, and to San Juan res­i­dents, es­pe­cially,” says Jonas Ta­mayo, who han­dles mar­ket­ing for Thirsty Bar­ber.

So you walk into Felipe and Sons and see the usual: bar­ber chairs, mir­rors, and book­shelves all around. There is a vin­tage feel to the space, as if you are en­ter­ing your grand­fa­ther’s study—one that has a cou­ple of trick book­cases that ac­tu­ally lead into Thirsty Bar­ber.

A lighted sign be­hind one door says “Thirsty,” lead­ing you to a small lounge by the re­strooms. Take the other door, and you will be greeted by an in­dus­trial-themed pub that mir­rors the vin­tage feel of the bar­ber­shop.

The checker­board floor tiles set the stage for the tufted couches lined up against one side of the bare con­crete walls, the ex­posed pipes in the ceil­ing, and the oil paint­ings.

“We max­i­mize the ex­posed pipes. Some of them are dec­o­ra­tive, and oth­ers are real, so at some point dur­ing the day, they make a sound when some­one uses wa­ter up­stairs. It’s part of the whole ex­pe­ri­ence,” de­scribes Jonas.

Ev­ery piece of art­work is on sale, too, turn­ing the bar into a gallery of sorts. Th­ese are all by Filipino artists: Martin Mat­uan, Clai Li­ti­aco, Fer­nando An­ti­mano, and Syd­ney Valdez. Some of the pieces are com­mis­sioned paint­ings for one of the own­ers.

As for the other accessories, Jonas says the own­ers wanted it to be “more or­ganic,” in such a way that they do­nated some of their per­sonal items for dis­play. “There’s a part of them that’s in here—an old globe, books, toys, tro­phies. Vin­tage ta­laga. Pretty old school,” adds Jonas.

Store hours for the bar­ber­shop and the bar over­lap, as the idea is to “get groomed and get thirsty.” New Or­leans jazz mu­sic plays in the back­ground as cus­tomers down their drinks and en­joy the bar chow (which they find good enough to have for din­ner, too).

“We try to sell the ex­pe­ri­ence. You would have peo­ple who grew up in San Juan, but when they dis­cover Thirsty Bar­ber, they’re sur­prised to find some­thing like this here. May ex­clu­siv­ity be­cause it’s a speakeasy bar,” Jonas says.

(OP­PO­SITE PAGE) Reg­u­lars at Thirsty Bar­ber would pur­chase a bot­tle of liquor and con­sume it over a pe­riod of time (specif­i­cally within a max­i­mum of one month). They are given the “bot­tle keep” ser­vice for free, so they can re­serve the bot­tles in in­di­vid­ual cab­i­nets un­til their next visit. When lit at night, this area of the bar be­comes a main at­trac­tion. (CLOCK­WISE, FROM TOP) Bright red bar stools amp up the party vibe at the main bar; the work of Filipino artists line the con­crete walls of this speakeasy.

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