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.
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