It was something straight out of some Scooby Dude shit. In fact, that’s exactly what I said when I saw the secret entrance to the secret bar. But then again, I was a little loose-lipped and feeling free because I’d just had a few drinks (Ok, more than a few) at the Belle and Dragon, an upscale Irish pub/arts and literature themed bar in the trendy neighborhood of Makati in Manila, the Philippines. My buddy had invited me there because he’s a DJ and was doing a gig that night at the Belle and Dragon, and I enjoyed hanging out with him and listening to him play old school hip hop and R&B. The bar was a little slow that night so it was mostly dudes that just came from work and the fun-loving, dancing waiters and waitresses, but I definitely could see the place had potential.
But when his DJ set ended, that’s when things got really cool. My buddy offered to show me – and his California girl Tinder date – the secret bar hidden within the Belle and Dragon. I thought he was joking at first, because he led us towards the bathroom when we agreed that we wanted to see it. I was highly questionable of my friend’s motives when he brought us to the end of a little hallway by the bathrooms that was only occupied by a few stacked up extra chairs, a mop and bucket, and a big wooden wardrobe.
However, this was no ordinary piece of furniture. My friend leaned on the handle and started swinging the heavy door open. I expected to see a coat rack or shelves, and there were still some hangers on a coat rack, but there was far more inside. In fact, when he opened the door all the way, he stepped back inside it and disappeared. (And that’s exactly when I made my Scooby Doo reference). We followed, and inside the back of the pitch black wardrobe was actually a passage into a bar- a secret bar – behind Belle and Dragon.
The place was absolutely amazing. It was surprisingly big – not just one room but a series of three large areas that formed a gentle curve around a big circular bar. Everything was incredibly upscale, too, from the rich dark leather couches deep grained wood walls and furniture. There were glass display cases throughout the walls with high-end Cuban cigars and pricey bottles of fine Scotch and whiskey, all back lit. A huge standing old-world globe sat as the epicenter of the place. There were people lounged around the bar and couches, casually sipping martinis and craft beers. The lighting was far dimmer than the brightly lit Belle and Dragon out front, but that was by design as they had carefully turned down the low ambient lights. The music too was chill and loungy, but not too loud that you couldn’t have an intimate conversation. We stepped up to the white marble bar and ordered something (I don’t even remember what it was!) and enjoyed the best drink of the night in easily one of the coolest bars I’ve ever been in – the secret bar within the Belle and Dragon that you climb into through a wardrobe!