“If anyone can finish our 27 signature drinks in one night, we should probably give them a prize,” jokes Edwin Acuyan, head of F&B for Diamond Hotel. He oversees Bar 27, which is nestled on the hotel’s topmost floor (you guessed it, the 27th!). While his dare was made in jest (read: dangerous), the proposition is undoubtedly a delectable one.

Bar 27 offers an unrivaled view of the city: a 180-degree spread that allows you to see all the way to Alabang or San Juan. You can also sip your favorite drink as you behold the world-famous Manila Bay sunset, the timing of which is conveniently synchronized with the beginning of Happy Hour. Despite opening to the public just last November 2016, it has already gained a following not just from the hotel’s guests, but even from the young professionals around the Manila Bay area.

Manila Bay Sunrise

Premium wines and beer (with double chill and draft options) are available, of course. Yet, the stars of the show are their 27 signature cocktails. Some are spinoffs of traditional bar mainstays (both in name and in content). Some are more adventurous reincarnations of crowd favorites using innovative tools. Edwin is as proud as a father of all 27. That’s why he can’t pick his one single favorite. The drinks’ names reveal how much fun he and his team had in creating them.

In an effort to reach different people with different tastes and different moods, the 27 are further sub-divided into three categories: Chill, Upbeat, and Party. (Some of them are available in pitchers, too!)

Chill

Manila Bay Sunset

The Chill group would probably be perfect for beginning the night, or for beginners in cocktails. Here are some of the drinks: The Manila Bay Sunrise is the Tequila Sunrise given a more apt local name. The Manila Bay Sunset is also an option to drink as you watch the glorious performance of nature that it’s named after. Cool as a Cucumber is a mojito spinoff. Its refreshing mix and minty overtures on the tongue can deceive you as the rhum makes its way into your system. Brandy Therapy, a rich, velvety coming together of cognac and crème de cacao, would be a good match for those with a sweet tooth.

Cool as a Cucumber
Brandy Therapy

Upbeat

If you want to take it up a notch, you can take on the Upbeat set. If you’re looking for a fruity fling, there’s Sexy in the City. The controversially named Never Mind… Her is soothing with its balmy mint flavor (maybe it does help you forget her—whoever she may be). The A.K. B27 is a play on both the AK rifle and the B52 bomber, and aptly so. The Kahlua, Bailey’s Cream and Grand Marnier are mixed, then set on fire. The drink makes for a sensational swish of sweetness on the tongue, then drops a bomb of heat in your chest soon after. If an exotic adventure is what you’re after, Toxic Relief might be your thing. Its chief ingredient is Cachaca, or Brazilian rum. Mixed with lime chunks and syrup, the flavor becomes as full and as fun as a party in Rio. After all, the drink seems to be inspired from the caipirinha, Brazil’s favorite drink. Then there’s the action-packed Smoking Gun. It’s a classic boulevardier (a trinity of bourbon, Campari, and sweet vermouth), but smoked. As if the flavors of the three ingredients weren’t enough, the smoke adds another dimension not just visually, but in terms of smell and taste, too. You get to choose if you want hickory or maple, among others.

Never Mind Her
A.K. B27
Toxic Relief
Smoking Gun
Shotgun Wedding

Party

Rounding up the night are the cocktails from the Party group. You have the Absolute Knee-Bender, a concoction with chili that seems to create fireworks in the mouth. There’s the Casual Ex that explores the light and dark Bacardi variations (as you contemplate the pros and cons of reconnecting with your ex). The Shotgun Wedding is a complex coming together of flavors which makes for a good surprise as you drink it (just like a blitz of a wedding, perhaps?). It has rum as its base, the sweetness of syrup, the tease of mint, and then there’s the special addition of Peychaud’s Bitters. Hasta La Vista is probably the counterpart to the fireworks Goodbye, Philippines. It’s your classic Piña Colada, but with almost everything Bacardi can throw at it: Silver, Gold, and the 151. Go Drunk, You’re Home, as the name suggests, is great as a night-ender, too. It’s also great for latecomers who might want to get on the same page as their friends (at least in terms of the alcohol in their system). Reminiscent of a Korean Soju Bomb, this drink makes use of draft beer in a mug, and a Bacardi 151 in a shot glass dropped in the middle of the beer mug.

Casual Ex

Meeting Three Marias

Tres Marias

Tres Marias, meanwhile, showcases not just Edwin’s creativity and experimental drive, but also his global experience. He has undergone training and worked in various countries as a sommelier, mixologist, and bartender. He has been part of several opening teams of different bars and restaurants, and has been part of a cruise ship. When he came back to the Philippines, Diamond Hotel recruited him for a second tour of duty (he had already worked for Diamond before his adventure across the globe), this time as its F&B head.

When he was working as a bartender, an Irish customer asked him for a Bloody Marie (not a typo. You read it right). Puzzled, Edwin asked the man how that was done. The Irishman replied, “It’s a Bloody Mary, but with whiskey instead of vodka. Another time, in Cancun, he was asked to make a Bloody Maria. This iteration, Edwin learned, was done with tequila. When the time came for him to open Bar 27, he experimented: Why not combine these three ladies, Marie, Maria and Mary into one drink? And add smoke. Just because.

The result is the zing of a Bloody Mary, the combined alcoholic strength of tequila, vodka, and whiskey, and the alluring scent of hickory or maple smoke.

Trust the Bartender

If you’re still undecided as to which drink to take, there is the option of just trusting the bartender with your feelings. He will make you a drink based on what you feel like drinking that night: something sour but sweet, spicy but smoky, perhaps?

Savor as you sip

Margarette’s Secret cocktail, Arancini, Cheese Platter, Bruschetta 3, Croquetta, Gambas Al Ajillo, Chorizo Salciccia, Jamon plate, and Read Between the Gin
Jamon plate (with Serrano and Iberico)
Bruschetta 3 which consists of sardines, tomato, and basil
Arancini
Fried Tawilis. This treat is not on the menu but you can request it and the kitchen will provide

The food, meanwhile, is versatile enough for the variety of drinks. There are, of course, suggested pairings to maximize the experience. The Jamon plate (with Serrano and Iberico) and Cheese Board go well with the wines. The exceptional off-the-menu dilis (tip: ask the server for this dish) goes well with the beer. The relatively light Bruschetta 3 which consists of sardines, tomato, and basil, goes well with the Manila Bay Sunrise. The Cool As Cucumber and other fruitier, refreshing drinks go best with the Prosciutto and Melon. The denser, more complex flavored and alcohol-packed drinks such as the Go Drunk You’re Home, the Tres Marias and the AK B27 pair well with the Gambas Al Ajillo and Chorizo Salciccia’s many oils and rich flavors.

Other Treasures

Bar 27 also has its own glass chiller, which can go -20 and -40 degrees as needed. This makes for a more efficient way to get drinks to the reach the right temperature, instead of having to wait for them to chill in a freezer.

The Bar also acts as a pseudo-vault to one of Diamond Hotel’s greatest treasures, Diamond Vodka, vodka distilled by a girl’s best friends. A bottle sells for more than P80,000. Then there are the other prized possessions: Louis XIII (P192,000 a bottle), Crystal Head (otherwise known as the Skull), Stolichnoya Elit, Diplomatico, Ron Zacapa, Elijah Craig, and Johnnie Walker Blue.

You’ll come back for the rest

While you might not be able to finish all of Bar 27’s 27 signature drinks in one night (neither are you supposed to, most probably), you’ll come back to discover them one after another. Then you’ll find your favorites. And every drink will keep calling you back to have a seat and take a sip as you watch the sun dive into the sea, or watch the rest of Metro Manila go by.


Photos and videos by Star Sabroso

Martin’s favorite drink is Romulan Ale, even though it has been banned from Federation starships. In its absence, he opts for Barliman’s Best from the Prancing Pony, or Butterbeer from The Three Broomsticks.

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