Design & Architecture
by Leah Elain P. Forteza & Imee Balandra

photographed by Bernard Lugay


"We are the premium wine merchants," Bacchus owner Alex Lichaytoo says it all with pride and dignity. Indeed, he has every right to say this of the business that sprang from his passion. He has a wine cellar at home and has been a wine collector for a long time. Friends would sometimes offer to buy from his collection if a particular wine was unavailable elsewhere. This gave Alex the idea of opening place (with his brother, Clifford) where people can purchase premium wines. The store was named Bacchus, after the mythological god of wine and pleasure. The first store opened in 1996 at Shangri-La Hotel in Makati.

This one contains premium wines mostly from the Old World (France Italy, Spain, Portugal). Since then, another store has opened at Shangri-la EDSA Plaza, which contains the wines mostly from the New World (North and South America), and another one is in the works in Alabang. However, the Makati shop has remained its flagship store.

A classic-contemporary motif designed by Architect Popi Laudico sets a mood of elegance and casualness in catering to variety of people. Its neutral colored floors and lacquered wood walls harmonize the delicately displayed wineglasses on the divider. A mask of Bacchus, believed to have brought good luck, hangs above the administrative area. A table with rattan chairs, placed at the center of the shop, creatively encases paraphernalia for serious wine collectors. Wrought iron seen by the display window and the entrance creates a 16th century setting reminiscent of chateaus nestled in the vineyards of the French countryside. A banga from Italy and engraved wooden crates behind the glass wall of the cellar add authenticity to the entire area.


bacchusAn interesting feature of the shop is its wine cellar, with a temperature maintained at 55°-65°F to preserve the wine's taste. A library of bottles dating one to fifty years ago lines the walls of the cellar. Dim lights produced by chandeliers from Arte Espanol accentuate the antique setting without putting aside its goal to help age the win. Lockers are also available for rent to those who want to invest in the sensitive and soulful art of wine drinking and collecting.










A trip to the shop is an educational one for the uninitiated. It was cozily designed so as not to intimidate. People are welcome to just walk in, even if only to inquire. In fact, according to Lichaytoo, the thrust of the shop is not merely to sell premium wines, but more importantly to educate the public on the intricacies of wine. By merely conversing with Lichaytoo and store manager Nikki Navarro, one can learn a lot regarding the proper storage of wine, the proper way of drinking it, the different glasses used for the corresponding wines and even the health benefit of wine.

Wine bottles are tilted when stored to make sure that the wine touches the cork enough to keep it moist. It the cork dries out, oxygen enters the bottle and affects the quality of the wine. To fully appreciate its flavor, the glass must be of pure crystal, and the shape depends on the flow of the liquid and air that a particular wine requires. For example, the glass used for light, dry champagne is a tall, narrow one so that the tingle of the bubbles that it is famous for is felt on the tip of the tongue. The thinness or the thickness of the glass also makes a difference. Contrary to some beliefs, wine can actually be good for a person's health if taken moderately, particularly the red wines. It is good for the heart, enhances circulation, and has a cathartic effect. It is also anti-carcinogenic because of the substances from the skin of the grapes.

Bacchus has been leading in the industry because of its innovations and its commitment to its goals. What started as a shop selling only wines ahs now evolved into a "family" shop. Bacchus now carries the Le Creuset line of cast iron cookware and the Jivara gourmet chocolate. Soon, the Lichaytoo brothers plan to include coffee and cigars to the store's merchandise. By then, it would truly be a gourmet / "pleasure" shop befitting the name Bacchus.