The neighborhood of Poblacion, in the subcity of Makati, located in Manila, capital of the Philippines, has some of the liveliest nightlife in the whole country, which means that the best bars in Poblacion are some of the best in the city. While it’s famous for its red light district, there are plenty of mainstream bars and restaurants to visit. In this neighborhood, you can find some of the best cocktail bars, great craft beer and night clubs of all kinds.
Note that I am making this list according to my own tastes. I’m not a fan of extra-loud, smoky-sweaty night clubs, so I’m not including any of them here. I do not, either, enjoy sex-work-related establishments, so they have been left out.
One last note: Filipinos tend to go drink at establishments that also offer food – they’ll usually load the table with food, nibble on it all night, and order drinks. This means that some of these bars are labelled as restaurants in Google Maps.
The Annex House
This is by far my favourite bar in Poblacion. Prior to the pandemic, it was located in the concrete frame of a torn-down house, about one block away from its current location. Today, it’s located in a beautifully designed late-60’s-style house. Ring the bell to get in, order one of their famous mango cocktails and dance the night away to 80’s rock or 70’s funk.
There is no sign on the front door. Double-check the address, and try to pull on the door. If it opens, you’re in!
This speakeasy-type of cocktail bar has reasonably-priced craft drinks and a felt-and-velvet-like atmosphere. The cocktails are very good, and so is the service. They have their own list, but ask for any classic cocktail, and they’ll make it for you.
The Social isn’t a single bar, but rather a group of different establishments serving food and drinks out of repurposed shipping containers stacked on top of one another. Outdoors seating only. It’s a lot of fun, and one of the best bars in Poblacion.
This restaurant/bar isn’t really a nice place to visit – overpriced drinks and bad American food – except maybe to take a look at the quirky decor. But it’s one of the most famous establishments in the whole country. It’s also smack dab in the middle of the busiest part of the red light district, so watch your pockets. At night, the people-watching around this spot is second to none.
You can’t make a list of the best bars in Poblacion without Handlebar. It’s an old rock/biker bar that’s been open for ages. Pool tables, buckets of Pale Pilsen, and either live music or ZZ Top on the stereo. Even the great Anthony Bourdain visited a few years ago on his show Parts Unknown!
When this bar is on, it’s on! Head straight upstairs – if it’s busy, take a seat and order a few drinks. The menu isn’t as overpriced as other bars in the area and the ambiance created by the young-hip crowd is perfect for either a date or a drink with a few friends.
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