Bank Bar is a lesson in knowing when to break your own rules.

The Moment Group, the culinary collective to which Bank Bar belongs, has always had a talent for giving Manila what it didn’t know it wanted. At the time of the bar’s conception last year, our nightlife was inundated with establishments that represented two far ends of the spectrum: pubs for those with little qualms, and clubs blasting the latest hits at the highest decibels. Constituting the minority was the happy middle of bars and lounges.

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“What makes Bank unique is the atmosphere it provides and how it evolves this throughout the night,” says Abba Napa, one of The Moment Group’s three founding partners. “It is a space that feels great at dusk when a pre-dinner Negroni would be perfect and where tables are filled with platters of jamon and cheeses. At the same time, six hours later at midnight, it is great as a space that fills up with both a crowd and unique sounds that lift the energy to an almost club-lounge vibe, where martinis and cocktails dominate the bar area. I haven’t been to many places around the world that are able to transform from one moment to the other like this.”

The argument could be made that Bank Bar, reached through what appears to be 7-11’s storage room, is just one among many speakeasy-esque bars that have recently found patronage among a crowd eager to discover, quite literally, something removed from the usual Manila circuit. But as Napa clarifies, “I never envisioned Bank Bar to be a speakeasy. It just so happens to be behind a convenience store. We created it out of a desire for us to have a space to go to ourselves.”

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By envisioning themselves as their own target market, however, The Moment Group broke their own cardinal rule: to never create just for themselves. “I created without any commercial intent in mind. We tried to create it purely for the moment we wanted to achieve. It was very risky,” Napa says.

Of course, nearly a year later, its commercial appeal has been proven time and again, its space consistently drawing in an eager crowd whose age bracket can span decades. If the The Moment Group chalks it up to happy incidentals, truth be told there is little surprise in Bank Bar’s success. “We never built Bank to try to be the newest, coolest, hottest. We built it to cater to our whims, and we really hoped that there would be enough people in Manila who liked to party the way we do.” Napa shares. That is: “Having a space with great noncommercial sounds that support the atmosphere and not take it over; having great spirits to choose from, to make cocktails with; having a massive selection of liquors from aquavit to absinthe, from sake to single malts under one roof, and last but not least, to have great bar fare to go with it: from high brow nosh like lamb ribs and jamon iberico to low brow nosh like yakisoba noodles and fries.”

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“Basically,” she finishes, as if such an impressive roster of concepts could so be easily drawn into one collective sentiment, “a place where you could want for nothing more.” – Arianna Lim

Photos by JL Javier

Bank Bar is located at G/F RCBC Savings Bank Corporate Center, 26th and 25th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.

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