The Best Bars and Clubs in Makati, Manila

Check out the buzzing bars and clubs and bright city lights of Makati in Manila, the capital of the Philippines
Check out the buzzing bars and clubs and bright city lights of Makati in Manila, the capital of the Philippines | © Hendra Su / Alamy Stock Photo
Shirin Bhandari

During the day, Makati is the business capital of the Philippines – but work turns to play as the sun goes down. The city has a buzzing nightlife scene, and is home to some of Asia’s best bars and clubs. Whether you’re looking to dance the night away at an LGBTQI+ night, sip a Hemingway-themed cocktail in a cosy speakeasy or drink local beer while watching sports, these are the best bars and clubs to visit in Makati, Manila.

1. XYLO at The Palace

Nightclub, Contemporary

Courtesy of Xylo

Renowned as one of the best superclubs in Manila, XYLO at The Palace – home to five different venues – is the place to go if you’re looking for an enormous dance floor and DJs spinning a mix of hip hop and R&B hits, classic house and EDM beats until dawn on a cutting-edge sound system. If you’re hoping to get table service or heading out with a group, it’s advisable to reserve ahead. Tables start from PHP12,000 (£178) on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and from PHP18,000 (£267) on Fridays and Saturdays. While the doors open at 10pm, things don’t really get started until after midnight.

2. Nectar Nightclub

Gay Bar, Contemporary

© Nectar

Get ready to shantay and slay at the city’s most popular LGBTQI+ nightclub, which boasts live shows from 10pm to 5am on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The fierce house drag queens, The Nectarines, and the scantily-clad Nectar gogo boys are dancing all night long, and you might also spot some well-known faces – the club is popular with the city’s A-list LGBTQI+ community. Want to join in the performance? Keep an eye out for the special themed events the club hosts throughout the year.

3. Revel at The Palace

Nightclub, Contemporary

The Palace is one of the city’s top nightlife destinations, with five different venues from a superclub to a cocktail bar. Revel at The Palace is a playground for the city’s glamorous party people, and is often frequented by celebrities, VIPs and socialites. The cosy space is ultra luxurious, with just 37 sofas and 12 cocktail tables spread over two levels that need to be reserved in advance. The space – crowned with an enormous starburst chandelier – looks out over The Island, The Palace’s vibrant nightlife market, which boasts two bars and seven food stands set around a tropical pool, courtyard and dance floor.

4. Strumm’s Makati

Bar, Cocktails

Looking for a live music venue in Manila? Check out Strumm’s Makati, a high-energy bar that’s been a fixture in the city for close to three decades. The colourfully-lit stage plays host to a variety of local and international bands, belting out everything from classic rock hits to contemporary jazz tunes. Visitors can choose to be close to the action on the ground floor or relax with a view over the stage on the mezzanine. The bar also serves up food – think pub classics, such as fish and chips or pepper steak, alongside Asian-inspired dishes, such as sushi and chicken teriyaki.

5. The Curator

Bar, Contemporary, Fusion

© The Curator

Coffee shop by day and bar by night, The Curator is the second Filipino bar to be placed in the esteemed World’s 50 Best Bars Asian list. It is an intimate haunt, tucked into the backroom of the Cyrano Wine Bar, featuring a bar framed with 19th-century salvaged wood. Frequent the bar enough and you might be added to The Curator’s little black book, which lists loyal patrons, their choice of drink and specifications as to how each cocktail is made.

6. ABV

Bar, Contemporary

© ABV Makati

Alcohol by Volume (or ABV to locals) is a cosy speakeasy bar, in the heart of Makati, that’s a hit with those in-the-know. It’s hidden behind a large, wooden sliding door, inside a burger restaurant named The Lazy Bastard. Inside, an antique elevator carries guests to a dimly-lit, secret lounge, reminiscent of the Roaring Twenties. Ask for the Bible – its hugely extensive drinks menu – and go for its classic cocktails, such as Hemingway’s Daquiri, which mixes white rum, maraschino liqueur, lime and grapefruit juice.

7. The Penthouse 8747

Bar, Contemporary

This chic lounge is inspired by The Great Gatsby, with lush black and gold art-deco furnishings and wide windows overlooking the Ayala Triangle gardens below. Good weather? Make a reservation at the al fresco dining area for a selection of handcrafted cocktails. The refreshing sangria – a Spanish-inspired punch with red wine, orange juice, brandy and chopped fruit – is a good place to start.

8. Black Market

Nightclub, Contemporary

© Black Market

This trendy warehouse-style club, inside the La Fuerza compound, caters to young partygoers. Don’t expect the run of the mill Top 40 hits here – Black Market’s DJs play everything from funk to techno and Afrobeats. There are unlimited drinks between midnight and 3am, so you’ll no doubt want to soak up the boozing with a late-night snack from nearby Joe’s Meat Shack, which serves sizzling hot dogs, cheese steak sandwiches and burgers.

9. Royal Club Makati

Nightclub, Contemporary

Royal, decked with glamorous interiors that live up to its name, features state-of-the-art light and sound systems that make every night a full-on production. The venue is open seven days a week and keeps the party going until 5am. Inquire ahead as there are daily theme nights with some of the best DJs in the country, and book out the VIP section with a group of friends for the best experience.

10. Handlebar Makati

Bar, Contemporary, Fusion

Screenshot 2021-04-14 at 16.24.36
Courtesy of Handlebar Makati

This sports bar, situated right in the middle of Makati, boasts large-screen TVs that play major league games. The bar is a familiar haunt for local motorcycle clubs, and houses its own pool table if you’re up for a friendly match. The local beer is relatively cheap, with huge and tasty portions of bar chow; opt for the popular grilled steaks if you’re hungry. Four nights a week – from Wednesdays to Saturdays – there’s also live music from the country’s best homegrown rock ‘n’ roll bands.

11. The Blind Pig

Bar, Contemporary

© The Blind Pig /yulin_liz

The Blind Pig, which takes its name from the slang term for a speakeasy bar during the American Prohibition era, credits its success to the advice of a bartender consultant from Milk & Honey, an award-winning cocktail bar with locations in New York and London. If you’ve got spare budget, make a reservation and enjoy candle-lit cocktails, soundtracked by jazz. The Blind Pig upholds a strict etiquette code: flash photography and smoking are not permitted and voices should be kept down. This is also a neat place to go if you’re travelling on your own for some alone time; guests must ask permission from the bartender if they’d like to be introduced to another patron for a chat.

12. Run Rabbit Run

Cocktail Bar, Fusion

Fancy trying Southeast Asian-inspired cocktails? Run Rabbit Run uses local ingredients; its signature drink the Jessica Rabbit consists of bourbon, lime, lemon oleo saccharum (sugared oil) and rosso infused with cloves and star anise. It’s take on the famous Filipino dessert halo-halo (mix-mix) is also a must-try; the dessert traditionally features candied fruit, topped with crushed ice and purple yam ice cream, but Run Rabbit Run’s version infuses rum, bourbon, coconut nectar, tapioca and sweet beans.

13. Alamat Filipino Pub and Deli

Pub, Filipino, Fusion

© Alamat Filipino Pub and Deli

Alamat is one of the best venues in Manila for local craft beers. This funky bar carries 12 beers on tap that change during the week, ranging from Wheat to Double IPA. Complement your ice-cold pint with a wide selection of savoury Filipino pulutan (snacks) and skewered meats. A highlight is the sinuglaw (grilled barbecue pork topped with tuna ceviche) and the adobo-style chicken wings paired with a pako salad that comes with seaweed, chopped tomatoes and salted duck eggs. Be sure to check Alamat’s online schedule to time your visit with the best local live band performances.

14. Dr. Wine

Wine Bar, European, Contemporary

Screenshot 2021-04-14 at 16.16.15
Courtesy of Dr Wine

Run by a former sommelier, Dr. Wine carries an impressive selection of 150 types of wine, along with imported cheeses and European-style cold cuts. Together with his wife Eva, owner Vince Landais transformed this 100-year-old wooden house, in the centre of Poblacion, into an elegant wine bar, with communal long tables that encourage people to make new friends. The husband and wife team also own the Kartel rooftop cocktail bar, which offers breathtaking views of Manila.

Mandi Keighran contributed additional reporting to this article.

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