I’ve been away from my laptop for so long, and I’m all too happy to be back and writing about my alcohol-laced experiences.
But first, let me get one thing out of the way: I’m really glad that one of the major glitches in the new blog layout has been addressed… I feel terrible that we lost touch with our regular followers because of certain unexpected issues during migration.
With that in mind, let me personally thank you, dear followers, for being patient with us. Please feel free to send us a message should you find something else wrong (apart from the glaring problems with certain missing photos), and if you have difficulties viewing the site, you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On to the more positive aspects of the week that was:
Monday, we were treated to a sneak peek into a soon-to-open restaurant, Samba (Shangri-La Fort). Spearheaded by the incomparable Peruvian Chef Carlo Huerta Echegaray, the menu features some of the best of his native cuisine (using some ingredients flown in from South America) with a “local flair”.
Of course, working for a drink blog, I looked forward to the specially curated cocktails that used bases like agave and rum… A perfect homage to Peru (they promised to also include one of my all-time South American cocktails, the Pisco Sour). I had to try the Hakuna Matata (simply for the presentation), which had our local Don Papa Rum as a base. It was refreshing, and a nice compliment to the Aji spices featured in some of the evening’s fare.
The rest of the week was a flurry of activity, which included catching up with friends/partner establishments, Poco Deli and Le Jardin Manila. Poco Deli has a lovely new branch in BGC (across Maybank and behind R.O.X. in High Street), featuring an awesome selection of meats (their BBQ Ribs are to die for) that pair well with their brilliant but accessible wine selection (the Fat Bastard line they have on their shelves never fails), as well as cool beer choices (they’re one of the good restaurants in town that has the famous Baguio Craft Brewery beers, as well as the Munich favorite, Paulaner). The people of Le Jardin Manila have a few surprises coming soon… And the cocktail R&D we did was just… Well, I’ll leave it here first. #nospoilers
The week was capped off by one of the much-awaited events in the Manila alcohol scene: Whisky Live Manila 2016. Held in Manila for the first time, the event highlighted several legendary whisky brands (from Bruichladdich, to “The Glens”, to critically acclaimed Japanese and Taiwanese whiskies, even some rum and gin).
There were also interesting Master Classes conducted by several industry legends. My favourites included Francis Hasegawa’s Japanese Whisky class, which taught me the Japanese philosophy of making whisky that keeps the consumer in mind. The Japanese prefer whisky that is structured enough to withstand the inclusion of soda water (a Highball), which in turn goes well with the delicate flavours of Japanese food.
I also learned in detail about whisky making (and the influence that vast amounts of patience has on scotch) from Glengoyne’s effervescent Andy Williams.
Perhaps the highlight of the evening was meeting the renowned Jim Murray, author of Whisky Bible, whose observation on whisky is greatly respected in the industry. I also got to attend acclaimed whisky writer Dominic Roskrow’s class. I personally respect Dominic for his research and philosophy on drink. The man is a veritable walking book on whisky quotes (which I’m sure is useful for his work in Whisky Magazine).
Some of his quotable quotes during the evening:
(On his thoughts about how it is/should be in the whisky industry): “There’s no snobbery in the industry.”
(On his view of industry innovators): “Normal people don’t make history books.”
(On dispelling the whisky myth about the correlation between colour and age): “Colour is not a gauge to age.”
(On his opinion of Islay whiskies): “They’re the Metallica of Scotland.”
(Dominic explaining personal whisky preference): “I may like roast chicken, you may like fried chicken, and that’s OK. Eating raw chicken is wrong.”
I was equally honoured to be included in Whisky Society Manila’s podcast (which should be up soon on their website). Granted, I think most of the participants were, uhm… Exhausted (please excuse our occasional silliness), but it was awesome to pick the brains of Andy Williams, Matthew Fergusson-Stewart of Glenfiddich (his story on the “mythical” Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix was fun), and Neil Strachan of The Balvenie.
So, with plenty of drinks to go around, I do believe that the week was altogether fun (maybe a little too much fun). It’s great to be back, and I’m looking forward to writing about another poison, gin, on Friday. Cheers!