8 Things to Look at When Choosing a Bar/Nightclub

1. Concept

When opening a bar, the concept is probably the first factor that aspiring businessmen consider. Without actually realizing it, this is also the first thing we judge as customers. We all have individual preferences on the kind of time we want: is it a laid-back night over beer or a wild, vodka-intoxicated party? The type of mood we’re in definitely influences our nightlife choices. This isn’t consistent as well, for one night we might be craving for some posh food and hard drinks and the next -- Pinoy chow and cheap beer! But one thing’s for sure: a bar with a solid concept is a bar we can depend on -- we just keep on coming back for more!

This over-all concept is not to be confused with the daily “gimmick” a bar has—which varies from acoustic nights to toxic parties.

Every day is a party at Dillinger's 1903, a gangster film-inspired steak house and beer pub (Photo credit: Dillinger's Facebook Page). Read my Dillinger's 1903 review here.

Beer stacks ... part of the concept? LOL

I might be stereotyping, but let’s face it – a place playing Abra’s rap songs all night and serving beer at P200/bucket doesn’t attract whiskey-devouring yuppies.

2. Alcohol

Or availability, thereof. There are nights when you just want an Amaretto Sour and nothing else could make you happy. Served with a cocktail other than the one you’re craving for, your night is totally ruined and you just want to go home, LOL!

my alternative to Amaretto Sour's absence, Whiskey Sour
Personally, I prefer whiskey (bourbon) and beer, and choose bars accordingly. Usually if they don’t serve bourbon, I can get by with beer, but if I’m not in the mood for beer either then I will scout every nook of the city for a place with Jack Daniels in it. On very happy days, I drink anything: cocktails, gin, brandy, vodka, tequila, rum—yes, even the repulsive Bacardi.

Bars called brew pubs specialize in beer and are guaranteed to provide you a wide assortment to choose from. Some bars don’t sell cocktails by the pitcher. Still, others don’t have certain cocktails on the menu but they can mix it for you upon request. Scan the bar list fast and get out immediately if you don’t like what you see.

3. Price

This one might not be the first thing we consider, but is perhaps the most influential. Does a 200-peso cocktail sound OK to you? Or would you rather guzzle some beer priced at P45 each? Or, can you survive a night of cheap, sugary mixes guaranteed to give you tons of headaches and vomiting marathons? I can live with all these three; it just depends on my mood and my wallet’s.

Local beers vary from P35 to as high as P150 from place to place
Sometimes, it’s the ambience and exclusivity that we’re paying for—which is true for superclubs like Republiq and URBN, charging an entrance fee not lower than P500 and selling local beer at P150. There are days when I want to treat myself to a really classy time, and then some days where in I just say, “Let’s ditch that disgustingly overpriced shithole.”

Beware of gatecrashers! Once, our bill skyrocketed to P10,000+ because of unknown people getting drinks from our table! Fortunately, it wasn't MY birthday. LOL (At Relik Tapas Bar and Restaurant)
This Jim Beam bottle can range from P800 - P4,000, depending on the place. Take your pick! (I choose The Distillery.)

4. Crowd

A “make-or-break” kind of thing, dictating the over-all popularity of a bar. Certain places attract certain customers. For instance, The Distillery crowd is usually composed of young professionals. If you were in the mid-20s, working, and always on the lookout for some sort of stress reliever after your 9-hour shift, you probably won’t choose a place flocked by college people.

Corporate meets College at En Route Distillery

In “singles” bars where in everyone is supposed to flirt with each other, there are trends as well. Example: old ladies (and sometimes, transvestites) pair up with foreign men. A big group entirely composed of men is almost always sure to mingle with a small group of ladies who happened to be at war with their boyfriends, haha! No matter what trend it is, a frivolous female is always a hit in O Bar, LOL!

Pick a bar where no one would judge you. LOL! (at Rue Bourbon Salcedo)
For me, the best place is one where you could totally be yourself and not be bothered by the snooty attitudes of some partygoers. My favorite? The Distillery – Jupiter. I can go break-dancing and ballroom dancing and nobody would sneer at me. Lan Kwai Fong in Hong Kong is another story; LKF is heaven.

5. Food

Some people can’t drink without munching on something. The price must be examined, analyzed, scrutinized carefully, since most places serve just bar chows. Some appetizers are extremely overpriced, like the Buffalo Wings I had in Hooters, whose meat is almost nonexistent I thought I was being served breaded toothpicks.

Hooters' Nearly World-Famous (?) hot and "naked" Buffalo wings with blue cheese dip (P485, 10pcs.) -- really good but too small and expensive
If you’re picky and such a foodie and can afford it, go ahead and order all the Gambas al Ajillo you want. Bars serving tapas style food are totally awesome.. but expensive. If you simply want to be orally preoccupied, stick to the reliable nachos, fries, and onion rings.

Skye Lounge's Tapas Dechado (appetizer sampler), P580 (Photo credit: James Valeriano)

Izumi Sake Bar and Restaurant's unbelievably awesome Maguro Izumiyaki (sesame-crusted seared tuna), P220
Bugsy's potato wedges, with blue cheese dip. Read my Bugsy's review here.

Wursty Wursty's buffalo wings. They serve really good bar food! Read my review of Wursty Wursty here.

6. Music

Don’t you just hate it when you go to a night club and you don’t know the title of any song? Nope, Shazam is not allowed!

7. Dress Code

Collar or no collar? Some bars require that you be in semi-formal (i.e. collared shirts for men) so you can’t go around prancing in your tank top.

8. Corkage

Sometimes, they don’t serve what you are looking for so you are forced to bring it in yourself, but they charge a corkage fee. Depending on whether you will end up spending more if you paid for that said product in another place, usually you just have to forget about those places charging ridiculous corkage.

The Distillery doesn’t serve food except for fries and popcorn, so there’s no corkage for food either. Bring all the Marty’s Chicharon you want!

Love it when I don't know half of the people in the picture. LOL!
Featured places:

The Distillery

Fort Bonifacio
Unit 108 Forbes Town Center, Rizal Dr
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
(02) 856-9014

Eastwood City Walk 1, Eastwood Ave
Bagumbayan, Quezon City
(02) 352-5617

Unit 1B Valdecon Bldg., Jupiter St
Legazpi Village, Makati
(02) 403-5293

Skye Lounge

Roofdeck W High Street Bldg, 28th St cor 11th Ave
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
(02) 478-4284

Rue Bourbon
Burgos Circle
Burgos Circle, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
(02) 659-8693

Salcedo Village
G/F Aguirre Bldg., 108 HV Dela Costa St cor Tordesillas St
Salcedo Village, Makati
(02) 553-4216

Izumi Sake Bar & Restaurant
Forbes Town Center, 29th St cor Rizal Dr
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
(02) 856-4090

Bugsy's Bar & Bistro, Fort Bonifacio
F-126-127 Forbeswood Bldg., Forbeswood Rd.
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
(02) 552-1723

Dillinger's 1903 Steak & Brew
3/F Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center Makati City
pepe samson

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  1. Pepe Samson and me at Diste?? hhmmmm.. When? lol.

  2. Sugurin mo na ko sa Makati! Magsasara na daw sila soon! :(


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