LIT is a new Japanese whisky bar located in Serendra, Bonifacio Global City. It’s still on its soft opening (as of March 24, 2015), having just started serving customers 5 or 6 days ago. I found out about it because it was the venue of a Whisky 101 class with EWSM. It was a little hard to find because they didn’t have a sign up yet. The entrance is an unassuming black door with an outline of a lighthouse above it. They chose the name LIT because they are aiming to illuminate and shed some light on Japanese whisky in the Philippines.
The concept of LIT first popped up two years ago, according to Francis Hasegawa, who can often be found behind the bar. Hasegawa is one of LIT’s founding partners and the resident whisky connoisseur. He said that five years ago it would have been too soon for Manila, but now it’s perfect timing.
In addition to rare Japanese whiskys, LIT also offers a small selection of sake, shochu and other liquors personally curated by Hasegawa. He selects their menu based on quality and craft, aiming to provide excellent and accessible beverages. They offer brands that most people probably haven’t encountered before, such as whisky that is only sold in Japan.
LIT doesn’t overlook the details and takes extra steps to ensure an authentic experience for customers. Their ice is carved from blocks of water filtered using Japanese charcoal. The filtering process adds minerals and enhances the flavor of the water. Their menu is as informative as it is enticing, with succinct distillery backgrounds on different pages to introduce the manufacturer before displaying the product. Their glasses are so thin they could almost be mistaken for plastic, and are the same glasses used in Japan.
In line with their mission to make whisky accessible in Manila, they offer happy hour (5 to 7 p.m.) and have a highball cart in front of their space. Highball is the most common way to enjoy whisky in Japan. It consists of whisky, ice and soda water. Sometimes ginger ale. Savigny informed me that highball preparation depends on the type of whisky involved. Sometimes you start with the ice, then add the soda water, then the whisky. Other times the whisky comes first, then ice, then soda water.
LIT doesn’t just focus on single malt whisky, which has (for some reason) become synonymous with premium whisky. As good as single malt is, it has strengths and weaknesses compared to blends, single cask and single grain whiskys. LIT guests can choose from a wide array of styles and brands to expand their knowledge and familiarity with Japanese whisky.
LIT also offers whisky flights, which changes once the bottles run out. Whisky is a limited product, so once a bottle is gone it’s off the menu. Their flights will change approximately every month based on quantity. The flight options I saw on March 24, 2015 all finished with highballs. This is because they are a refreshing way to recover after having a few shots of whisky. Plus, it’s the most common way of drinking whisky in Japan.
When asked about the best way to enjoy whisky, Hasegawa said to appreciate it drink neat, but to enjoy go with your mood. You can enjoy whisky neat, on the rocks, as a “twice up” (equal parts whisky and water on the rocks), or make it a highball.
LIT is located at Serendra, Bonifacio Global City. It rests in between Powerbooks and Larry’s. Visit them today to sample rare Japanese whiskys and discover your favorites before they run out.
Tip: Bring mosquito repellent. Ask whoever is behind the bar for recommendations.