Before the Poblacion pubs came about, there was Buddha-Bar—and it is still serving party lounge realness.
With a giant rainbow flag draped from its second story railing, Buddha-Bar Manila recently celebrated Pride Month with the Geisha Night soiree featuring event-exclusive cocktails.
As the DJ played hits from Cher and Abba, we talked to bar manager Krisca Labrague who recently joined in from Dubai to revamp Buddha-Bar’s drinks list.
She mixed for us Modern Geisha, a pretty vodka-based cocktail with layers of mango and blue curaçao. It’s slightly sweet, but with a slow kick.
If you like mojito, you’d love Silk Kimono—a gin and tonic with a kiwi-cucumber twist, plus refreshing mint. This is our favorite; great with food, too.
Whiskey fans could try the Nagasaki, a version of the Old Fashioned (usually bourbon, sugar and bitters), but with spiced rum. It has a dark, elegant berry taste brought about by the crème de cassis, a liqueur made of crushed black currants.
Served in a lowball glass, Flower Town is actually fruity, and topped with a real daisy. It has rum, coconut, mango and passion fruit, and reminds us of piña colada.
Asian Persuasion was all about exotic eleganza. It’s a tall bamboo tumbler of rum and fragrant chamomile.
The Geisha Night drinks are limited-edition specials, but they can be requested from the bar, so it’s kinda a “secret menu,” Labrague said.
We also asked her about the bar-tending mystery of putting two straws in a drink when one or none would suffice: “First is for stirring, the other is for sipping, and a spare since paper straws get soggy.”
On any night, guests may order the signature cocktail, The Ultimate, a combination of “secret rum mix,” maraschino liqueur, Cointreau, pineapple, passion fruit and almond milk presented in a trumpet glass.
Did you know that the first Buddha-Bar was established in the late ’90s in Paris? The Manila branch has been around since 2012, and got popular for its bar chow: sushi rolls, deep-fried dim sum, caramel popcorn.
Marketing manager Arvin Blanco said there will be a new “modern Asian menu” soon, so diners can revisit the OG Instagram-friendly Makati hangout with plush couches, a grand staircase and literally a golden Buddha.