Photos by JP Sium

Joe Villanueva

Filipino entrepreneur and mixologist, Joe Villanueva of The Wise King Hong Kong visited the Philippines for a series of bar shifts early part of March. We were able to catch his guest shift at The Cigar Bar & Poker Room at Solaire Resort & Casino and his signature serves didn’t disappoint.

The Cigar Bar and Poker Room
Joe Villanueva together with The Cigar Bar & Poker Room’s bartenders and Apotheke Craft Spirits team

Villanueva is known for his triumph as the first Hong Kong Chivas Master Competition Champion in 2014. He was part of the talented team behind Lobster Bar, one of Asia’s 50 Best Bars, before he decided to open The Wise King together with fellow master bartender Sandeep Kumar. “It’s always a bucket list for bartenders to have their own bar,” Villanueva shared why they stared. “As long as you know your thing, why not try?”

The Wise King is a Spanish-themed cocktail bar hugely inspired by King Alfonso X of Castile, Spain. Many claims that the late king was the one who popularized Tapas (small Spanish savory dishes served alongside with drinks) due to his belief that eating small portions while drinking was the one that helped him recover from his illness. Since then, it became embedded in their culture. The Wise King follows the same concept in serving its widely-adored cocktails, enabling them to become a famous destination for those seeking good food and great drinks.


The Cigar Bar and Poker Room

With Joe’s quick visit back in Manila, The Cigar Bar & Poker Room took this opportunity to put up a one-night-only bar takeover for Joe to give his fellow Filipinos a worth-while drinking experience with his superb concoctions from The Wise King.

Here are some of the cocktails he crafted that night:

Bliss Negroni

As the name suggests, a wave of bliss will envelop those who drink this Negroni. Black Truffle and Nutella are combined with Gin, Mancino Rosso, and Amaro; creating a bitter-sweet, herbal-y mix. To take it up a notch, it’s served with Hazelnut – Chocolate Crunch Textures to elevate the sweet component of the cocktail.

Bliss Negroni

Super Colada

This is Joe’s unique take on Pina Colada. He added Ricotta Cheese and Chia Seeds into the Coconut Orujo and Pineapple Juice to produce a stronger flavor tropical flavor that guests will surely enjoy — paired with a Spicy Chicken Beignet with Pineapple-Coriander Relish as a canape.

Super Colada

Picked Margarita

The PickedMargarita is one of Joe’s best creations. It’s a play of sweet-sour cocktail with a spicy kick due to the complex ingredients used. It’s a mix of Bay Leaves Reposado Tequila, Mezcal, Pickled Beetroot Shrub added with some citrus and a hint of cayenne pepper salt. It is served with Beetroot Marinated Salmon, Lemon Salt Crème Fraiche, Horse Radish Shavings.

Picked Margarita

Brined Rickey

The Brined Rickey enamored a lot of guests. It made use of gin and Strawberry Brined Soda with some fresh basil, citrus, and a Sherry Vinaigrette. It’s a sour and savory cocktail that you won’t get enough of.

Brined Rickey–Gin, Basil, Citrus, Strawberry Brined Soda, Sherry Vinaigrette Paired with Feta Cheese, Basil, Pickled Watermelon Rind, Strawberry Caviar.

During his stay in the Philippines he also did a bar takeover at Shangri-La at The Fort’s Backroom and flew the next day for another shift at Cicada in Cebu to share more of his experience as a renowned Filipino bartender and bar owner to aspiring hopefuls in the country.

“There are many [Filipinos] bartenders out there. I’ve done this, and I’ve done that, and I want to share that exciting feeling that gets me going. Anyone can do it, you just have to be passionate,” Joe told us. Joe shares that whipping up the perfect cocktails and owning a bar per se is always a challenge, but it’s an exciting journey that requires solid motivation.

To keep updated with Joe’s endeavors, follow him on Instagram @villanuevajoe and @thewisekinghk. For more events like this, check out The Cigar Bar & Poker Room at 

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