A Secret Bar Is Bringing The Whiskey Sour And Other Classic Cocktails To The Kapitolyo Scene
With the Year of the Pig celebrations just behind us, it’s no wonder that pigs are top of mind these days—three little pigs, to be exact. Yes, that’s the name of this cozy speakeasy we recently discovered in Kapitolyo, Pasig, now welcoming folks of all ages looking for a quiet neighborhood bar where the drinks are seriously good.
Being a speakeasy, Three Little Pigs is hidden above the restaurant Sisig Society on East Capitol Drive. No signage is visible, except for a light that is turned on at the second-floor balcony to signal that the bar is open. You enter through Sisig Society, open a white brick “secret” door, go up a flight of stairs to arrive inside a dimly lit room that can squeeze a maximum 25 people inside. In keeping with the theme, photos and paintings of pigs hang on the walls. “We’re pro pig,” chuckles manager Samantha Su. “No wolves allowed here!” You’ll find plush seating, wooden banquettes, and muted lighting with a wood-paneled bar counter dominating the intimate space.
Since Three Little Pigs opened last September 2018, word has gotten around about this secret bar in the Kapitolyo neighborhood. Samantha describes the concept, “As if it’s your uncle’s basement bar, a little quirky kind of place, different from what you see in other bars, but not too outrageous.” It’s the kind of bar where both young millennials and titos and titas will feel at home. The clientele is mixed—couples on a date, groups of friends, and even solo customers hankering for a drink after work before heading home—and they’re all welcome at Three Little Pigs.
But why a speakeasy? Speakeasies are secret bars that sprouted in the 1920s and 30s Prohibition era in the United States when the public sale and distribution of alcoholic drinks was prohibited. But almost a century later, speakeasies are still around, but no longer as dens of illegal activity, but rather as havens of exclusivity. Samantha explains the appeal, “Especially in the Philippines, people want to go to places that not a lot of people know about.”
Why put up a bar in Kapitolyo which isn’t really known for its nightlife? Rather, the scene in this Pasig neighborhood is an eclectic mix of cafes, al fresco grills, ramen bars, and what not. Sam feels a speakeasy like Three Little Pigs fits right in the mix. “That’s what really works here, especially in this neighborhood, not something super crazy, but more laid back.”
While Three Little Pigs has its quirky “pig-centric” charm, what keeps people coming back are the top-quality drinks served. After all, the bar is owned and operated by Pylon Partners, the drinks-based company behind speakeasy ABV Cocktail & Absinthe Bar in Makati (listed among Asia’s 50 Best Bars in 2016 and 2017), Fête Manila in Blue Leaf Cosmopolitan, Quezon City, Coco in Coron, Palawan, and Prisma in Boracay. They are no novices in the bar business, and it shows in the way the cocktails are carefully crafted. No bells and whistles or exotic drinks here—everything on the bar menu is as classic as it gets.
Head bartender Miguel Salamilao and bartender Jessica Salamanca definitely know their stuff. They’re happy to listen to their customers, and recommend a drink depending on what you’re in the mood for. For something refreshing, there’s the aromatic and citrusy Gin Basil Smash. For something boozier, there’s the Negroni with its blend of gin, Campari, and red vermouth. A must is the signature Whisky Sour, made with bourbon, sugar, lemon, egg white and, according to Miguel, a good dose of angostura bitters for an extra layer of flavor. The rest of the menu runs the gamut of classics: Old Fashioned, Moscow Mule, Daiquiri, Mojito, Boulevardier, Martini, Gin & Tonic, Cuba Libre, Cosmopolitan, Clover Club—all costing below P300. Most importantly, the bartenders craft each drink with proper care and focus, without rushing the process. According to Samantha, credit goes to Pylon CEO Patrick Cuartero who trains the bartenders himself with precision and discipline to make sure every drink is prepared according to spec.
Gin Basil Smash
The cocktails are supplemented by a limited bar chow menu offering Chicken Skin, Salsa Nachos, even Kikiam. A good foil to the drinks are the Onion Rings dusted with BBQ powder, or the Dynamite which hides whole green chili peppers fried in batter. Samantha emphasizes that there’s no pork on the menu—out of respect for the three little pigs, of course.
Three Little Pigs is that one neighborhood discovery that can easily become a regular hangout. Even more, for those unsure about what classic cocktails should taste like, a visit to Three Little Pigs can provide a baseline of what a properly crafted Old Fashioned or Boulevardier or Negroni should taste like.
Visit @threelittlepigsph on Facebook and Instagram
Photos by Paulo Valenzuela