food + drinks by Sam Potenciano

Yes Please: A Club for People Who are So Done with Clubbing

Here’s why BGC’s latest dive considers itself the ‘anti-bar’.

Most ‘90s kids are familiar with the Magic 8 Ball—if not with the dishonest act of vigorously shaking it over and over again for a better answer, then at least with the many pop culture references to its mysterious (if somewhat sinister) powers. And if you happen to have been born way after the toy was last in fashion, a quick refresher: the fortune-telling device resembles an 8 pool ball. Ask it a yes or no question, shake it around, and trust that one of the 20 possible answers that floats to the surface will solve your conundrumyes-please-2It was this clairvoyant contraption that apparently inspired Erwan Heussaff’s latest venture into the local cocktail scene. “The magic of the 8 Ball is that it gives you the answers to all your questions, so we thought that would be a fun thing to reference,” he explains. “We decided on the name because we always want the answer to be ‘yes.’”yes-please-5Calling on Huessaff’s other childhood memories of the ‘90s, Yes Please’s current list of signature cocktails was inspired by everything from Nickelodeon game shows to fictional Disney hockey teams. One of the drinks was almost even named The Rachel. “Only most guys didn’t want to order a drink called Rachel,” he laughs. “So we had to swap that name for a Top Gun reference instead: The Maverick.yes-please-4Heussaff’s playfully nostalgic take on cocktail culture signals a departure of sorts from his previous outings. “Back when we first opened Niner Ichi Nana, it was literally just Blind Pig, Curator, and us,” he explains. “So at the time, we had to introduce cocktails properly. It had to be this very serious, posh atmosphere. With Yes Please, the market already knows all about cocktails, and we’re set up in Palace, so we also have this opportunity to introduce this drinking culture to a whole new type of client. That’s why we decided to approach cocktails in a non-scary way. We just want to make stuff people want to drink.”yes-please-7A few of Yes Please’s standout drinks include The Legends of the Hidden Temple, a bourbon-based cocktail made with fresh green mango and tamarind (“It’s like a localized Sour. It’s very in your face.”); The Girl Scout Colada, a clarified version of Piña Colada made with pressed pineapple juice, rum, marshmallow foam, and torched orange flowers; The Gaston, an old fashioned infused with coconut charcoal and hickory smoke; and The Flying V, a Mezcal drink made with fresh mango, melon juice, and champoy powder.yes-please-6“I wanted to cater to all the ‘80s and ‘90s kids like me who just don’t want to go out and club anymore,” he confesses. “You know how things come back all the time? We wanted to be that part of the ‘90s that’s coming back—that dive bar feel where, by 2am, everyone is just singing along to Nirvana together. We wanted to do all of that in a funky space that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s more like an anti-club or anti-cocktail bar.”yes-please-3Eschewing contemporary cocktail bar design cues (“It’s not just all minimalist concrete and industrial steel.”), the space’s offbeat interiors are a collaboration between Heussaff, Serious Studio, and Space Encounters. Plush velvet and granny-approved floral upholstery line the couches, kitschy vintage chandeliers hang above the U-shaped bar, and fluorescent neon signs add electric pops of color to the infinitely Instagrammable space.yes-please-4Even though it’s only been about a month since their doors opened, a typical night at Yes Please often finds the floor packed with customers from all walks of life. From yuppies, to straight drinkers, to stragglers from Palace—all of whom are more than welcome to hang, according to Heussaff. “If you wanna come and sit at the bar and talk cocktails, that’s great, but if you want to just stand around with your buds and play foosball and listen to good music, that’s fine too. We don’t say no to anyone.”

Produced by Alyssa Castillo
Sittings by Sam Potenciano
Photography by Redge Hawang

Sam Potenciano
Sam Potenciano
Sam is the digital editor of L’Officiel Manila. Formerly the founding editor of The Neighborhood and the editor-in-chief of Candy magazine, she is also a columnist for The Philippine Star's Young Star section. Follow her on Instagram at @sampotenciano.
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