Food & Drink

Paradise: Cafes That Serve Alcohol in Manila

Yes, you can have everything you want.

As one legendary drag queen keeps saying, “There’s always time for a cocktail!” We agree, and must add there’s also always time for coffee. If you think about it, both drinks serve the same purpose: They’re both designed to be consumed slowly, they're both enjoyed over good conversation, and they both bring a caffeine- and alcohol-fueled zippiness to the table after a good meal.

If we may be so bold to say, the choice of a good post- or pre-meal drink is as essential as the meal itself. Coffee cocktails are the perfect marriage (they even have health benefits!), but if you just want one or the other, we're glad that Manila has its fair share of cafes that serve alcohol for people who need different kinds of buzz.

Our list has been whittled down to exact specifications for your drinking pleasure. All seven spots below are known to serve excellent coffee and have a wide cocktail range. If you're looking for just cocktails, try this list

1| Caravan Black Coffee

Photo by Eugene E. Constantino

If you happen to find yourself waiting in line at other popular restaurants in BGC’s Net Park building, a drink at Caravan Black can ease the wait. You know you're in the right place when you see the caffeinated homage to Magritte’s Son of Man at the back. This small, but classy third wave coffee place serves blends developed with the help of Yardstick Coffee. Lattes are the crowd favorite on the coffee side of things, but we recommend trying the Gibraltar and the Localmotion on its signature drink menu (espresso + coffee jelly + honey). On the alcohol side, its coffee cocktail lineup includes Espresso Martini and Bean Town (vodka + cold brew coffee), both of which are sure to give you the jolt you need. This is the perfect place for those who look for a little booze with their breakfast.

Net Park Building, 4th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig 

2| The Curator Coffee and Cocktails

Photo by Sonny Thakur.
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The Curator has been named Manila's top bar (authorities have spoken). That this speakeasy cafe, which is tucked behind the Cyrano Wine Lounge in Makati, serves alcohol also makes it a hipster’s dream hideout. With coffee roasted by #YKW Roasters, your cup is guaranteed to come with a kick. If you’re a fan of dark mocha, the Dark Matter Theory blend, the favorite of many cafes, is especially good. If you're feeling a bit more adventurous, ask for the BOD or brew of the day. And if you're here past 6:30 p.m., you’ll just be in time for cocktails. For the price point, you’re guaranteed to like any drink from the menu, but most customers recommend asking the bartender to make you a drink of his choice for a real surprise.

134 Legazpi corner Don Carlos Palanca Streets (inside Cyrano Wine Bar), Legazpi Village, Makati

3| EDSA BDG at the Grid

Photo by Geric Cruz

EDSA BDG takes center stage among all of the gems in the glittering crown of foodie heaven the Grid. Apart from its usual #YKW Roasters offerings, we recommend you give its Irish Coffee (coffee + Irish whiskey + sugar + whipped cream) a try for the best of both caffeine and alcohol. For more discerning coffee drinkers, its top-shelf filter coffee, pour-over Ethiopia is also available in two blends. Don't forget that the cafe serves alcohol. Zoom in on its best-named drink, Joan the Peasant, which features fig syrup, Aperol, OLA, and soda water in Vermouth.

The Grid, Power Plant Mall, Makati

4| Bluesmith Coffee & Kitchen

Bluesmith earns a place on this list with the addition of alcohol to its menu. We usually pair our Wagyu Burger steaks with its Dirty Chai or any of the coffee offerings made with a special blend by Yardstick. And when we’re feeling like it’s time to break out the fun, we order the Rising Sun, a Japan-inspired drink made with Suntory whisky, gekkeikan sake, matcha, pandan, and soda water. That's certainly a drink you won't find at other cafes that serve alcohol.


Bluesmith Coffee & Kitchen branches

5| Refinery

Ask anyone where they'd go for coffee and cocktails and Refinery would probably their top-of-mind cafe. With branches in Rockwell, Greenhills, and Salcedo and no shortage of drinks, it’s an easy choice. Here, the most discerning third wave coffee drinkers can choose their beans (we recommend the Benguet for its light, fruity notes) and extraction method. On the menu, there's the Orange Infused Cappucino with its light dusting of cacao. The Manhattan serves the fantasy (bourbon + sweet vermouth + orange liquer + bitters and cherry garnish), but the choose-your-own-adventure Gin and Tonic seems to be the way to go. Whatever you choose will be thrilling. Refinery is a quiet place to wind down with friends, especially during Happy Hour, which offers 25 percent off of drinks. It just so happens to have one of the best breakfasts in Manila, too.

Joya Lofts and Towers, Joya Drive, Rockwell, Makati; Promenade, Greenhills Shopping Center, Greenhills, San Juan; Frabelle Corporate Plaza, Bautista corner Tordesillas Streets, Salcedo Village, Makati


6| Single Origin

Photo by Majoy Siason.

Customers rave about its coffee blends (made with Lamill Coffee) and sweet tooths love its Cafe con Leche and Espresso con Panna, but what we love most about Single Origin are its delicious breakfast cocktails. We’re talking three different kinds of mimosas and something called a Bacon Infused Bloody Mary, which seems the perfect kind of thing to have when you’re about to start day drinking.

Edades Tower & Garden Villas, Amorsolo Corner Rockwell Drive, Rockwell, Makati; Bonifacio High Street Central, 7th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig; Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Greenbelt, Makati

7| The Fat Seed Cafe + Roastery


One of the most unique spots in UP Town Center is Fat Seed, which is a cafe that serves alcohol. This eclectic little spot, which has quickly turned into everyone’s go-to place for good food, good coffee, and good booze, has interiors perfect for your Insta-stories. Many have declared its Cafe Mocha to be one of the best, but any of single origin coffees is also a good choice. After you’ve had your fill of food and coffee, we recommend the Purple Haze, an interesting cocktail made with Johnny Walker Black Label, fruit syrups, and an egg white. But if egg whites aren’t your style, order the High Garden (Vodka + Chamomile + Elderflower + Ginger syrup + Lime + Mint).

Phase 2, UP Town Center, Katipunan Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City

8| UCC Clockwork

Clockwork has a special array of coffee drinks for the most adventurous and discerning of drinkers. Try the Single Origin Pour Overs to really taste the richness of selected beans from around the Philippines and the world. If you really need to stay awake, there’s Nitro Cold Brew on tap. We can also go on and on about why we have a love/hate relationship with the Kori Kohi coffee, but not today. Its cocktail menu is a bit limited compared to the wide variety of the coffee, but we don’t mind when the Sake Blossom Sour is available. Like Caravan Black, UCC also has spiked coffee concoctions, so if you really want to keep awake, order a Wild Kori Kohi flavored with Bailey’s iced cubes, Vodka, and Frangelico.


UCC Clockwork branches

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Carla de Guzman
Carla de Guzman (@somemidnights) is the author of Cities, If The Dress and Midnights in Bali (soon with Anvil's Spark Books imprint). She likes watching TV and eating between books while tackling her giant TBR pile.
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