The experience of going out to drink differs depending on a lot of factors: who you’re with, what state of mind you’re in, what you’re drinking, and where you decide to drink. Different places attract various types of people, and the varying vibes dictate behaviors and set the tone for what kind of night you’re going to have. Let’s talk about where to drink, as well as what and who to expect when you go there.


First up is the dive bar. This is a no-frills sort of establishment. This can be your neighborhood watering hole or local pub or pool hall. It’s where everyone knows your name. It’s gotten a pretty bad rap, what with scenes of the tragic drunk drowning himself in cheap scotch or barroom brawls in grimy, seedy locales entering our minds when we think of it. (Like, what kind of place that is called a “dive” could be worth going to, right? Unless a manmade or natural body of water is involved, of course.)

But a dive bar is actually cooler than you might think. These are not the places you go to see and be seen. They are quite unpretentious and straightforward, just like the people who frequent them. Affordable drinks and a chill vibe invites regulars who just want to relax alone or with their friends on a random night. You get to meet all sorts of interesting people, too.

Where to go in Manila: Tambai (Poblacion) and Heckle & Jeckle (P. Burgos Street)

Tambai Photo courtesy of TambaiPH's Facebook account
Tambai is located at 5779 Felipe Street, Barangay Poblacion, Makati City / Photo courtesy of TambaiPH’s Facebook account


This is the place where drinks are the draw. The ambiance isn’t shabby, either. The atmosphere is generally subdued and the place is high end. It goes without saying that the prices reflect the intricacies that go with making the cocktails as well as maintaining a chic bar, so go when you’re feeling particularly fancy and are flush with cash. Take your time in enjoying the cocktails. Try to keep your voice down and mind your space. This is not the place to go wild. (Though there are times when these things happen. Let’s just chalk it up to experience). The bartender has power, being the one crafting your drinks and all. If the bar isn’t too busy, this is the perfect opportunity to learn things like how your drink is made.

Where to go in Manila: The Curator Coffee and Cocktails (Legaspi Village), Bank Bar (BGC), Mandalay Bar (Belle & Dragon, Legazpi Village), ABV (Jupiter), Blind Pig (Legaspi Village), Hooch (Salcedo Village), and The Naughty Room (Above Ebeneezers, BGC)

Hooch is located in V Corporate Center, 125 L.P. Leviste Street, Makati, 1227 Metro Manila
Hooch is located at V Corporate Center, 125 L.P. Leviste Street, Makati, 1227 Metro Manila


This is where you put your dancing shoes on. It’s loud and, except for strobe lights and some really dim lamps, quite dark. (The better for you to dance like no one is watching because it’s so dark that even if they wanted to, they couldn’t.) The club is not the place for you to have a heart-to-heart talk with your best friend over coffee. It’s the place for you to let loose and dance. And drink, of course. No one eats at a nightclub. The drinks are pricey and will guarantee that you get sloshed enough to venture to the dance floor if you’re shy. (Shots! Shots! Shots!) Most clubs are upscale and have a dress code for them to allow you entry into their sacred dance halls, so it’s best to dress up. (And wear the nicest, most comfortable shoes you have. Your feet will thank you the next day, or at least won’t be cursing you as much.) There will most likely be a cover charge as well, so make sure your wallet is loaded before you head out. Because of the intensity of the music, it would be difficult to strike up a conversation with fellow revelers. Shouting at each other and still not being able to hear what the other person is saying (so you just nod and smile and pretend you understood) is not the ideal first meeting. So body language and some measure of confidence is key in interacting with new people.

Where to go in Manila: Valkyrie  (BGC), The Palace Pool Club (BGC), Chaos (City of Dreams), URBN (BGC), XX XX (Pasong Tamo), and House Manila (Remington Hotel, Pasay)

Valkyrie Photo courtesy of Valkyrie Nightclub at The Palace's Facebook account
Valkyrie Nightclub at The Palace is located at 9th Avenue corner 36th Street, Uptown Bonifacio, Taguig / Photo courtesy of Valkyrie Nightclub at The Palace’s Facebook account


This is pretty self-explanatory. A place where sports fans gather over beer to watch whatever sport is in season on giant flat-screen TVs mounted on the walls. These bars get packed especially during big sporting events (think World Cup or the NBA Finals or Manny Pacquiao). It’s a good place to meet kindred spirits rooting for the same team and maybe even get to know “the enemy” (the fans of the opposing team). Most people drink beer here and can get vocal about what’s going on onscreen. It’s okay to be loud, but don’t be a jerk to the other patrons. People go to commiserate with fellow fans and root for their teams. Respect is expected. During off seasons, various televised sports are shown to anyone who wants to watch and it becomes more of a place to get a few drinks with friends.

Where to go in Manila: Skinny Mike’s (BGC), Cable Car (San Lorenzo), and Howzzatt (Kalayaan Avenue)

Photo courtesy of Skinny Mike’s Sports Bar's Facebook account
Skinny Mike’s Sports Bar is located at the second and third floors of F&B Bldg in MC Home Depot, 32nd St., corner, Justicia Dr, Taguig / Photo courtesy of Skinny Mike’s Sports Bar’s Facebook account


This is quite a recent invention. It’s not just the merging of two of the most comforting and pleasurable things in life (food and drinks), but the coinage of the term refers to the innovation in execution, done in such a way as to take the experience to another level. Never has the marriage between cuisine and alcohol been so enriching. These are not your usual bars where you get pulutan with your bucket of beer. They’re casual and offer the trifecta: good food, good drinks, good service. What more can you ask for?

Where to go in Manila: CAV (BGC) and Smith Butcher & Grill Room (Salcedo Village)

Smith Butcher & Grill Room is located at ACI Building, HV Dela Costa St, Salcedo Village, Makati
Smith Butcher & Grill Room is located at ACI Building, HV Dela Costa St, Salcedo Village, Makati is your learned drinking buddy who can tell you what to drink, what you’re drinking and where to drink. Learn about the coolest and the latest bars in the metro, or the newest beverage or new product out in the market, or have fun creating enjoyable drinks from our features and videos within the comfort of your homes.

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