food + drinks by Mags Ocampo

Cuts & Cocktails with Thirsty Barber

Behind this barbershop’s bookcase hides San Juan’s first speakeasy.

thirsty 2Most specialty barbershops for men come with a taste of the old world – worn-in, tanned leather chairs; library shelves filled to the brim with hardbound books; and classic straight razors – but none quite like Thirsty Barber. In addition to the gentlemen’s club feel of it all, the unassuming barbershop along Wilson Street is home to a speakeasy. All it takes is the push of a bookcase a la Wayne Manor (sans grandfather clock) to transport yourself into the Thirsty half of Thirsty Barber.thirsty 7The brainchild of Felipe & Sons owner Paulo Canivel, businessman Alvin Yap, and a few other partners — and as inspired by The Blind Barber in New York, where every haircut comes with a matching drink — Thirsty Barber pairs the cutting edge mastery of Felipe & Sons with a swanky, one-of-a-kind bar.thirsty 3With custom-mixed drinks and a unique menu put together by MasterChef Philippines winner Chef JR Royol, it’s the perfect place for companions of the barbershop’s clients to wait. Moreover, it’s a great place to just hang out and have fun. Open to the public from 6PM to 3AM, Thirsty Barber’s bar owes its interesting mix of dishes to the “Bigorot”—part Bicolano, part Igorot – roots of Chef Royol. We highly recommend some of the more unfamiliar dishes like the sisig substitute Dinakdakan and a moist version of chicharon bulaklak, paired with the bar’s signature drinks like a watermelon-flavoured whiskey sour called Don’t Play Dead or a spicy tequila-based drink served with a slice of bell pepper called Undercut.thirsty 6Although the bar is fairly new, the team behind it already has a roster of regular events set up. Thirsty Barber’s marketing head Jonas Tamayo explains, “We have Let’s Get Thirsty for Thursdays. If you’re a barbershop client and you have a receipt from a haircut of the same month, you can claim a free beer every Thursday. We also have What the Funk It’s Friday where […] it’s buy 1 take 1 on cocktails from 9pm-11pm! There’s also Saturday Shenanigans, which is the night of the week wherein the place is really at its peak. Meanwhile, on Sundays, we have Sunday School wherein the music is ‘90s to early 2000s.” He pauses and adds, “On every last Sunday of the month, the DJ plays actual vinyl records.” The rest of the time, Thirsty Barber pays homage to actual speakeasies of the past by blasting classic jazz.thirsty 4Unsurprisingly, the combination of good food and good music has attracted a loyal following over the past few months. Thirsty Barber’s usual crowd is said to be sophisticated – “cosmopolitan,” according to Jonas. While some of the familiar faces that swing by every now and then are Felipe & Sons loyalists who want to spend a night out after a fresh cut, Thirsty Barber owes most of its current success to the close-knit vibe it has going on. Being situated in a residential area has brought a downpour of regulars that come in just for that community feel. At Thirsty Barber, everyone knows everyone, making it the perfect neighborhood jaunt.thirsty 5Produced by Alyssa Castillo
Photography by Redge Hawang
Special thanks to Jonas Tamayo and Andrew Panopio

Mags Ocampo
Mags Ocampo is a twenty-two-year-old writer, graphic designer, and life guru (or so her friends claim). She currently works as Rogue Media Inc.'s Digital Art Director and takes freelance jobs on the side. She likes diving into whitecaps, reading sad books, and trying to tear down the patriarchy during her spare time. She's taken on adulthood by changing her screen names to her actual name, and thus, can be found as @magsocampo on Twitter and Instagram.
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