Where are the best cocktails in Manila? To conclude our recent Extreme Philippines Tour we spend the last day doing a slum tour of Manila. Any slum tour is interesting for so many reasons, but in Manila, it is particularly interesting due to the recent trend of travel bloggers to paint the Philippines as a very developed country. In actual fact whilst it is very easy to showcase the positives of Manila, it truly is still a tale of two cities, with the gap between the haves and the have-nots being immense.
Smoky Mountain AKA Paradise heights
The funny thing about the slums, like in many countries is that they are literally right next to the richest parts of Manila, and yet despite the proximity people eke out an existence living in shanty towns and pretty much dealing with the trash. The Manila Slum tour finished with us checking out Smoky Mountain, a place where people really live on a rubbish tip. As for Smoky Mountain, that is a whole blog in itself as is the Manila Slum tour, things I will deal with in other articles.
To read more about the rebranding of Smoky Mountain click here.
The Manila Hotel
After leaving the slums we drove for a mere 10 minutes before being greeted by a frankly stunning building, and one I had never been in before, the Manila Hotel. So glad, we decided to stop and check it out.
The Manila Hotel exuded an old world charm, reminding me a lot of Raffles in Singapore, with a huge reception and seating area, girls wearing the traditional dresses, and a full band playing classical music for the masses. They also had a cocktail list to die for!
In fact the Manila hotel is one of the oldest hotels in the Philippines. Extremely classy and well a few hundred dollars per night. Great for a visit, but I probably won’t be staying here any time soon.
The best cocktails in Manila
The American influence on the Philippines is sometimes good, sometimes bad, and cocktails seem to fall into the later. Most places offer cocktails, but the quality is ropey at best. The Manila Hotel had a hugely impressive cocktail list, and I for want of a better word was thirsty.
Feeling the Raffles vibe I started with a Singapore Sling, it was served in the correct glass, looked the part and tasted great. One down.
My next port of call was a cocktail I had not had for over ten years, but one which used to be a favourite of mine, the Amaretto Sour, again perfectly served, and faultless in taste.
The last cocktail I tried was the real litmus test of how seriously they served their drinks, I ordered a Moscow Mule, which was duly served in a brass mug. Had they served it in a glass, it would have been acceptable, but that they went the extra mile I found to be a super touch. And it tasted phenomenal!
By the standards of the Philippines and Manila, the Hotel Manila is not cheap, but on the grand scale of things paying $6 per cocktail was fine with me. In fact for the quality that you receive the prices are an absolute bargain. If you were in New York, or London they would cost 5-6 times as much.
Manila is a very eclectic place and there is no shortage of things to do when you visit the capital of the Philippines, but doing this combo is fairly unbeatable. Seeing how life really is in the slums is quite sobering. The fact that the best cocktails perhaps in te country is right next door really brings home the paradox that is the Philippines.