There's a Sexy, New Cocktail Lounge Hiding Deep Inside Makati Shangri-La
Along the tree-lined and shop-filled Makati Avenue in the city’s central business district sits the unassuming employee’s entrance of the Makati Shangri-La Hotel. Up a ramp and through a tight security check are a set of swinging doors where, both night and day, hundreds of the most gracious ambassadors of Philippine hospitality begin and end their work shifts. In the evenings, however, and still unbeknownst to many, is a steep staircase tucked away just past the guards, which leads to another red emergency door. Behind it is the hotel’s newest, hottest cocktail lounge, The Den.
Located in one of the private dining rooms of the hotel’s esteemed Chinese restaurant, Shang Palace, The Den is a prohibition-style speakeasy bar. Until December, it will offer up an inventive array of curious tasteful Chinese-inspired tipples and tidbits to hotel guests and the area’s smart crowd. Sexy and seductive, the intimate space takes its cue from the neighboring dining room. Basked in a cloud of soft red light, the converted space reveals comfortable sofas and Cheongsam-dressed hostesses who carefully watch over their guests by making sure that glasses are constantly filled and small plates of duck wraps, Szechuan shrimp, wagyu spring rolls, and plates of everyone’s favorite Dragon’s Skin (salted egg covered fried fish skin) are available in abundance.
Boasting an original cocktail selection, the specially crafted libations were created by in-house beverage manager Clayton Munar and guest bartender, Kalel Demetrio, popularly known as the Liquid Maestro, and chief bartender at Agimat in Poblacion. Early favorites include Munar’s multi-layered “Fu,” made with Plantation dark rum, orgeat syrup, peach, lime, bitters, and house-made pineapple soda and Kalel’s “China Town,” a Kanto-style caramel vodka with osmanthus, soya milk, and grass jelly. Also gaining a lot of interest from early guests are modern riffs on classic cocktails such as the Sirena dry gin Imperial Mojito, the rum and rose Diplomatic Sour, and the Hennessy and Chinese five-spice Opi-Yum.
Come November 9 and 10, guest mixologist Joe Villanueva from Hong Kong’s The Wise King, currently number 18 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars, will be joining Munar and Demetrio for a special two-night stint.
The Den is open Wednesdays to Saturdays, 6 p.m. to midnight.