Fancy a night out? Try these top bars in Manila

The vibrant capital of the Philippines is buzzing with trendy drinking dens serving everything from local beers to unusual cocktails with a Filipino twist.

Manila's nightlife scene livens up at bars such as Polilya.
  • Rina Diane Caballar
  • July 2019

Cap off a day in Manila opens in new window with a drink at one of the city’s coolest bars. If you’re feeling fancy, head to one of the more upmarket venues where you’ll get to sample unusual cocktails featuring mixtures you wont find anywhere else in the world. Or for something more traditional, there are plenty of casual dens serving local beers and snacks.

Polilya

The colourful patterned flooring, walls adorned with leafy live plants and beer bottle light fixtures give this pub in Makati’s hip Poblacion neighbourhood an eclectic vibe. Polilya opens in new window is home to Engkanto Brewery’s best local craft beers, like the blond ale and double IPA. Pair it with crowd favourite chicken nuggets (Hainanese chicken with ginger sauce) or fish and chips in a curried beer batter.

Antidote

Drink in Manila’s city lights while sipping on a cocktail at this expansive rooftop hotel bar in upscale Makati. Featuring a jellyfish aquarium bathed in luminescent lights, the bar’s tipples offer the perfect cure for the city’s bustle. Try Antidote’s opens in new window signature remedies, such as the Ananas in Pandanus, Mr Domango or Ube Bae.

Rooftop bar Antidote has its own jellyfish aquarium.
Rooftop bar Antidote has its own jellyfish aquarium.

Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen

Named after the Filipino word for “amulet” or “charm”, this haunt in Poblacion opens in new window takes inspiration from local mystical traditions. The shelves resemble a folk healer’s apothecary and an ancient-looking balete tree (believed to house supernatural beings in Filipino folklore) takes pride of place behind the bar. Their Gayuma ng Paraiso is a potent concoction, while their Ritwal ng Agimat – served in a ritualistic way, complete with chanting, drumbeats and pouring of flamed liquor into a silver goblet – is truly magical.


The Curator Coffee and Cocktails

Caffeine lovers will enjoy coffee in the sleek atmosphere by day but don’t miss the cocktails by night at The Curator, opens in new window as it’s a regular on Asia’s 50 Best Bars list.

Bank Bar

This intriguing speakeasy opens in new window tucked away behind a convenience store in BGC transports you to an elegant hideaway with velvet-clad chairs and a cathedral-like bar complete with grand arches. Order a Pinay Colada, featuring a mix of local rums, citrus-honey meringue and a dusting of rose petals, or take your pick from any of the batch-crafted cocktails laid out on trolleys.

Manila's hidden treasure is the elegant Bank Bar
The elegant Bank Bar is Manila's hidden treasure,

The Coconut Club

This island-inspired bar in BGC (think indoor palm tree and cocktail umbrellas) is the closest you can get to a tropical escape in the heart of the city. The cocktails at The Coconut Club opens in new window are affordable and, with larger than usual serving sizes, they pack quite a punch. Order their Calamansi-a-Go-Go, Gin Pom Pi or Pina Col Pina and chill out.