Picture this: a night in Makati that doesn’t end with hang-ups and hangovers. Instead, you get a weekend you’re sure to remember — buzz still included.
While it’s true that the city knows how to throw one hell of a rager, Makati also has something for those who want their night to be a sip more sophisticated and a shot less chaotic. Take your pick: from speakeasies shrouded in shadows, to playful wine bars going au naturel, to cozy hotel bars that lead to even cozier sheets. There’s a seat for you at any of these spots.
For this particular night out, we’re swapping our regrets for some responsible revelry instead. In toasting to a night where the memories are as delicious as the drinks, I present you a guide to the thrills and spills of Makati after-dark.
Going au naturel in Poblacion
In Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” a revenge plot is set into motion. The poor victim is lured into the catacombs and buried alive all because of the promise of wine. Who can blame the guy? Good wine intoxicates, but exceptional wine enchants.
And while Poblacion is famous for being the heart of Makati nightlife (Read: where traffic moves at an inch per minute and the music pulsates at a level that deserves to be put on the Richter Scale), the neighborhood has a lot more to offer. You’ve got your captivating cocktails at Run Rabbit Run and timeless pizza-beer combos at Nolita Joe’s. Poblacion definitely has the range. However, more recently, the barangay is witnessing the rise of the local natural wine scene right in its very own area and the streets adjacent to it. Enter, Bibio and Bombvinos Bodega.
The wine list at Bibio reads like a love letter to artisanal winemakers. Each bottle has a story to tell, and the staff here is more than happy to walk you through these tales. Whether you prefer the effervescent charm of a sparkling pet-nat Barbabolla or the depth of a well-aged red Puszta Libre, this natural wine bar has the perfect recommendation. And as a cute little bonus, the natural processes they champion in their drinks work on their food as well. You can clink those glasses while chowing down on their fermented fries and mouthwatering mortadella.
Just a wine bottle’s throw from Poblacion, Bombvinos has set up shop. We all fell in love with these purveyors of organic, low-intervention “nattys” as they powered countless quarantine e-numans. This year, they’re welcoming us into their home. But the Bombvinos Bodega feels more like a house well-lived than an actual bodega. You have the comfy leather chairs, rows upon rows of bottles on display, and a record player, but what really brings you home is their menu. Here, light and juicy wines can be paired with Filipino-inspired favorites like kesong puti toast with tocino crumble and fresh cheese pasta with laing butter.
Drop by Poblacion for some daytime titahan over good food and natural wine. We promise you won’t get locked in. Although you’re probably going to choose to stay anyway.
The off-beat bars of Chino Roces
Once the sun sets and the streets of Makati begin to roar, that’s when you’ll hear the music. Along the fringes of the city lies Chino Roces, the neighborhood that dances to its own beat. This long stretch of road has all sorts of oddities and commodities you can’t find anywhere else. You’ve got your indoor shooting range and well-stocked ukays all in the same building. You can even get lost in Japan for dinner at Little Tokyo. But it's the off-beat bars of Chino Roces that have you following their rhythm.
Over at the timeless Makati Cinema Square, jazz music plays. Fat Cat is easy to find; Just follow the trail of cats on the walls and you’re good to go. Upon entry, you’ll be greeted by the bar tells you everything you need to know about the place: a well-stocked collection of liquor, record players and jazz vinyl, and cat trinkets. Inspired by the Japanese jazz kissa, Fat Cat is the kind of place where you can enjoy a drink or two while listening to jazz that’s the cat’s meow. Try The Doja, a juicy, fruity number with milk-clarified gin and Triple Sec that makes it far from being a cash grab.
Stay a little later and you’ll find more music down the road. Tucked within the corporate offices and art galleries of La Fuerza Plaza is Club Kino. Reminiscent of the clubs in the area that once redefined Makati nightlife, this alternative space is one that refuses to be defined. Some days, it’s a cinematheque screening cult classics. Some days, it’s a club with DJs spinning till sunrise. But on the regular, it’s a gallery-cum-speakeasy where a good cocktail can be enjoyed amid all of that damn good art.
In quiet conversation with Salcedo
The night has a cruel way of making us tender. At this late hour, it’s easy to fall prey to some unsolicited nostalgia — or to the dangers of sending a regrettable text or two. So why not soothe those sorrows with some good conversation and even better cocktails at Salcedo Village.
The streets of Salcedo offer a brief respite from the sensory overload of Makati. Pulsating neon lights are traded in for gentle streetlights that kiss the night sky. Instead of pop Top 40 being blasted at full volume, you’ll hear the muted sounds of residential buildings wrapping up and calling it a day. But if you find yourselves in the right street at the right spot, you’ll notice the brass and piano playing faintly in the background. This is 78-45-33.
You know that an establishment is a well-loved staple when its patrons have a pet name for it. And while the “numbers bar” feels like a moniker born out of necessity, it’s also a testament to its esteemed reputation. People in search of a quaint and quiet spot in the city know that they can find it here. But it’s really their carefully crafted drinks that give the place all that jazz. Hold off on contacting the ghosts of lovers' past and take a chance with their classic White Lady — a tart and tangy tipple offering egg white silkiness for texture. Or if you’re down for their playful take on the New York deli soda, split a Zoe’s Dirty Chocolate Cream Soda with your special someone. But no matter your drink of choice, the Truffle Popcorn is mandatory.
The legends and trendsetters of Legazpi
What better way to end a night out than by paying a visit to the trailblazers of the Makati drinking scene. Here at Legazpi, you’ll find the old guards rubbing shoulders with the new kids on the block. And just like fine wine, this neighborhood only gets better over time.
In the city that’s in a perpetual state of coming and going, there are some places that are here to stay. Known as one of the oldest speakeasies in the country, Blind Pig is a treat for those who aren’t afraid to befriend the dark. Just go up to the door and knock. Once you’re in their dimly lit space, you’re welcome to whisper your secrets to their shadows. Their response: a bespoke concoction — a testimony to their knowledge over the craft.
Receiving the title “Best Bar in the Philippines” from The World’s 50 Best is no easy feat. So it says a lot when Curator has won the award three times now. Perhaps it’s from their service that never ceases to accommodate, with bartenders that ask how your day went and remember your “usual.” Or maybe it’s in a space where conversations can be made and pop punk bangers occasionally play. Likely, it’s from a thoughtfully-made menu that’s constantly reinvented and features allusions to pop culture.
But in addition to the legends of Legazpi, the neighborhood fosters up-and-coming talents. Strolling around the area, you’ll find a nondescript building with a glasshouse garden perched on top. It’s a pleasant breather from all of Makati’s noise (and smog). Seltsam, the German word for strange, serves as a lovely reminder of what the city’s nightlife can become. Spaces normally not thought of as bars are transformed. Intersections of art and drinking become regulars. It’s only going to get stranger from here.
When the night comes to a close, consider capping it off at Catalogue, the in-house restaurant and bar of Citadines Benavidez. And while you’re at it, why not stay the night? ‘Cause where else can you find a fully-equipped serviced residence that’s a trip and tumble away from all of Makati’s nightlife?
No matter the neighborhood, there’s a home you can crash into at Citadines Benavidez. Just don’t let the buzz stop you from showering and doing your skincare routine.
So tuck yourself in and enjoy a good night’s rest. There’s chocolate chip pancakes and made-to-order omelets waiting for you in the morning.