The metro’s hottest nightlife destination that is Poblacion in Makati appears to have gotten more lively. It has even gone beyond being trendy, as new bars and dining spots offer their own specialties that widen one’s choices of a good time.
At the corner of Matilde Street and Kalayaan Avenue is La Esquina, a new tapas bar with food by Boracay’s Dos Mestizos and craft beer by Monkey Eagle.
The Morcilla Suelta Con Cebolla Roja Caramelizada (Blood Sausage Out Of Its Casing with Caramelized Red Onions) and Salpicon De Mariscos (Fresh Seafood with Vinaigrette) were good pairings with Monkey Eagle’s Psychedelic Blonde and Philippine Pale Ale. These craft beers, which have higher alcohol content, were tasty with hints of fruity flavors.
We’re not sure if the piped-in ’80s music, which chef Monique Yrezabal Escalona says is her personal choice on the night of our visit, will be a staple, but surely that’s no problem.
At the very end of Tambai Alley (Felipe Street), upstairs, is Panaginip, a speakeasy with a good whisky list. The ambiance is dark and moody, its interiors painted in crimson, the lights dim. But it also has a relaxing, homey vibe with comfy sofas and intimate corner spots.
The ’60s-era TV set, ref and other old stuff relive a heady, bygone period.
On several occasions we ordered one of its cocktails, Guni-Guni (whisky, lemon, honey), for its refreshingly perky kick. On our most recent visit, we engaged bartender Norman Dioquino in a conversation about single-malt whisky as we sipped Glenmorangie.
The music is programmed jazz and soul. One night, while drinking solo, we didn’t feel alone as everyone around us grooved to Motown sounds.
Food may be ordered downstairs at Panaginip’s sister bar, Wantusawa, whose specialty is the fresh oyster flown daily from Aklan. The idea to serve oysters, by the way, came from chef Christine Zarandin, who helps run the Tambai-Wantusawa-Panaginip chain with boyfriend Melvin Viceral.
They’re both doing a mighty fine job.
At one inconspicuous spot on Guerrero Street, just off Makati Avenue, is The Spirits Library, another speakeasy but bigger—with a long bar on the ground floor and a hallway on the second floor that leads to a room with twin bars and a lounge.
During a couple of visits, we were advised to try its cocktails—the gin tonic and gold rush (the name of the whisky-lemon-honey mix) served with a personal touch from bartender Ralph Allen Santos.
Brothers Joey and Marco Viray of Joe’s Brew are with the group of partners who thought of opening The Spirits Library, whose concept of a repository of rare whisky brands is showcased on the wall that extends from the bar downstairs to the second floor.
Lately they’ve been holding whisky tasting and live jazz gigs, which is why we’re looking forward to on our next visit.
At another unnoticeable location on Albert Street is Kondwi, a spacious bar and art space that includes visual artists Leeroy New and Jinggoy Buensuceso as co-owners with actor-turned-restaurateur Marvin Agustin.
The ambiance is subdued, with soft-focus lights and a purple shade adding drama to the bar. Around the ground floor are quirky artworks, including a space alien creature hanging by the ceiling.
The skewers-only bar chow boasts of Sinigang Na Baboy, which surprisingly tastes like lutong-bahay even without the soup.
We hope they hold live gigs at the art space upstairs, because we missed the one Kate Torralba did recently.