A view from the city: Manila

21 August, 2017

Other notable bars include Las Flores, Rambla, Niner Ichi Nana, Long Bar in Raffles, and my new bar Bitters (disclaimer: shameless self promotion).

What are your favourite places to drink in Manila?

When I’m not at my own bars, my favourites are Curator and Blind Pig. They simply make the best cocktails in town. Las Flores and Rambla would come soon after that. These are both restaurants with great food but the ’tenders are great in both. I used to be a fan of the Long Bar in Raffles when the original team was there. With me it’s more about the bartender than the bar.

What cities do Manila bartenders look up to?

I would say Singapore is the city they look up to the most. There are several well-known Philippine bartenders in Singapore. Yoma of course is at 28 Hong Kong St. There are quite a few Philippine bartenders at Manhattan Bar.

After Singapore the next most influential city is probably Tokyo. Several bartenders in the Philippines have adapted the Japanese style of bartending. Ueno San from Bar High Five in Tokyo has become friends with the guys from the Curator and has been to the country several times. I am not aware of any Philippine bartenders in Tokyo, but in terms of influence, Japanese bar techniques have had a big influence on local bartenders.

What are the challenges you face to developing a world-class bar scene?

Ultimately it’s supply chain. There is no shortage of enthusiasm and talent in the country. With the internet, all the information is at everyone’s fingertips. But sourcing bottles of spirits can be one of the biggest challenges. Some of the basics are hard to get in the Philippines. Rare bottles are frequently brought in one at a time by suitcase. For many of the best bars in Manila, a good portion of the inventory is brought in this way.

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