Food & Drink

The Drinks are Sublime at This New Pop-Up Garden Bar Inside Makati Shangri-La

Botaniko Herbal Urban Lounge is where you can start or end a chill night in the city.
IMAGE Paul John Cana
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First came The Den, a Chinese-themed pop-up speakeasy that lived for a few months in one of the function rooms of Shang Palace in Makati Shangri-La. On Wednesday, February 12, the hotel unveiled a new pop-up bar in a previously unused space just off its restaurant Sage.

Botaniko Herbal Urban Lounge is an al fresco cocktail bar with a decidedly fresh and green aesthetic that’s meant to look like an oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle that is Makati. Herbs hang on the walls down to the main space, where comfortable couches are spread out. More plants turn Botaniko into a relaxing and inviting garden retreat, contrasting nicely with a view of busy Ayala Avenue down below. 

A favorite nook for photos for social media

Photo by Paul John Cana.
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Barrels underneath hip yellow incandescent bulbs provide an Instagram-ready nook for the inevitable social media posts, although the color of the evening is green, thanks to all the plants, strategically placed lights, and a huge tree that rises up from the hotel’s first floor.

According to Benjamin Nicholas, the hotel’s assistant director for food and beverage, the idea is to shake things up in the city’s bar scene, from an acknowledged Makati institution.

“With all due respect to our predecessors, they didn’t have to work as hard because everybody knew the hotel (back in the day),” he says. “When you think Makati, immediately you think the Shangri-La. These days, people have tons of other options for night life, from BGC in Taguig to Poblacion. We want to let people know that we can still pull a few surprises, and Botaniko is just the latest example of that.”

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Botaniko Herbal Urban Lounge has a tropical garden vibe

Photo by Paul John Cana.

Indeed there is something refreshing and unique about the concept, and it’s not just the plants and the fact that it’s out in the open. Beverage manager Clayton Munar weaved his magic with the drinks, as per usual, partnering with local liquor company Destileria Limtuaco to craft specialty cocktails that not only fit the theme, but highlight sustainability practices and promote locally sourced ingredients. 

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At launch, Botaniko’s four main drinks have a little something for everybody, but all were designed to invigorate and refresh for a long night of chilling and partying. “Solitude” is tequila, mint, lemon, and a splash of Manille Liqueur de Dalandan with some orange cream; “Cucurosa Collins” mixes gin, rose syrup, lemon and cucumber soda; “Coral Club” is strawberry infused vodka, citrus mix, rosemary, strawberry syrup, and egg white; while “Peppercorn Smash” is black peppercorn-infused gin, Manille Liqueur de Calamansi, basil, Asian lemongrass syrup, and calamansi. 

Coral Club

Photo by Makati Shangri-La.
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Peppercorn Smash

Photo by Makati Shangri-La.

Cucurosa Collins

Photo by Makati Shangri-La.
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There are non-alcoholic drinks, too, for those who want to keep the evening dry, but all are best paired with the bar’s special eats whipped up by Argentine Chef Sebastian Barcudes. Try the garlic and sriracha plantains; grilled kale, pumpkin and pecorino flat bread; and the addicting fried ube and camote chips with a to-die-for cashew cheese dip.

The idea is to keep Botaniko for at least a couple of months until April 2020, but a more permanent arrangement can be made if enough of the city’s nighthawks turn it into the next drinking hotspot. Meanwhile, according to Nicholas, expect a few more tricks up the hotel’s sleeves in the coming months, including (fingers crossed) a possible return of The Den. We can’t wait.

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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