By Pamela Cortez
IT’S cool factor is actually balanced by restaurants that are very serious in what they do, and can challenge those of similar quality, but at a price cheaper than other places in Makati or BGC.
It’s grunginess though, has slowly moved into more sophisticated territory: Dr Wine nearby serves a short menu of French classics and a laundry list of great bottles, and Oto’s listening room is often home to guest shifts by some of Asia’s best bartenders.
The new crop of openings are all in similar territory, still fresh and fun, but definitely for a more sophisticated set. Here’s a quick rundown of the best new bars in the area to open in the last few months.
Run Rabbit Run
One of my favorite new places to drink, Run Rabbit Run boasts a Singaporean pedigree. Partnering with Bitters and Love from Singapore, the cocktails here are no joke, and are in the same vein as some of our best watering holes.
The place is right across event space Dulo, at the tail-end of Poblacion, and looks exactly like a house so it’s easy to miss.
Once inside, the place transforms into a three-level intimate bar, all dim lights and plush chairs.
The cocktail list is home to a lot of sours, but there’s something for everyone. I’ve been obsessed with Jessica Rabbit, which comes in an ostentatious float of dry ice, but reveals a strong drink influenced by notes of spice. Off With Their Heads is both fruity and rich, combining whiskey with red wine; while the Chillin’ Like a Villain is refreshing and floral. There’s also a Kaya Toast drink that’s an ode to their Singaporean counterpart, and comes with a tiny slab of the world-famous snack on top of a jug of rum with peach. 4991 P. Guanzon Street, Poblacion, Makati City
Kalel Demetrio has long been making waves as Liquido Maestro, impressing everyone with his commitment to Filipino produce and flavors.
He makes a lot of his bases- — liquors, kombucha, tinctures, bitters — with Filipino ingredients and methods that are often forgotten.
Agimat ng Sawi, for example, uses our local raspberry, known as sampinit, in lambanog. Perlas ng Silangan infuses kalinag, similar to cinnamon bark, into liquor. Dasal ng Babaylan uses bugnay wine, often made in Ilocos, and pairs it with tamarind.
In this charming space, where a balete tree informs most of the decor, he has partnered with chef Nino Laus, who brings the same sensibility to his dishes.
Second Floor, 5972 Alfonso Corner Fermina Street, Poblacion, Makati City
Yoi, a Scandinavian-Japanese place right next to Agimat, is more restaurant than bar, but a secret door one might mistake for the bathroom is actually a tiny space that serves drinks and houses DJs.
Behind the menu is Mikko Quimora, who once worked at Noma, and Cris Villasor, who has been cooking Japanese for a very long time.
Salmon here comes with ikura yogurt, but the fish itself is cooked in an incredibly Scandinavian manner. A surf and turf sandwich called flaeskestag has oysters and pork belly, and a traditional dumpling called kropkakka has leeks and potato. To wash it all down, there is an extensive Japanese rice wine selection, and its bar serves mostly Japanese liquor such as shochu, whiskey and beer.
5579 Alfonso Corner Fermina Street, Poblacion, Makati City
It’s difficult to spot Ñ, because of its location. It’s hidden away on the top floor of café ABKD, and barely has breathing room for 20 customers.
If you miss it completely, then you’re missing a gem, because the tiny bar, decked out in bronze, serves up affordable libations that are so delicious, and worth a visit.
Stop at their café first, for a giant serving of slurpable bucatini, covered in a rich sauce only enhanced by a barely-cooked egg.
When you make your way upstairs, the look of Ñ is so remarkably different, it looks like they couldn’t be farther from each other.
I usually order the La La Rosa, which manages to marry gin and pistachio together, and tops it off with a mist of absinthe. The Maria Clara is also a winner, with a calming combination of gin, cucumber and rose syrup, and a darker Poblashioned puts a twist on the popular drink by adding Red Horse syrup into the mix.
Second Floor, Z Suites Apartment, 5663 Alfonso Street, Poblacion, Makati City