October for me was a flurry of activity. A 3.5 day class here, several events there, a bunch of deadlines everywhere, plus prep work for a massive collaboration with Metro.Style, and the yearly Halloween parties in the house…
The pace was so frenetic that it prompted a couple of things: My schedule b*tch P asking whether or not there are other months in 2019, and me getting sick.
Yep. Towards the last day of the WSET classes, I lost my voice and developed a cough that made me start hacking up a lung (let me stop here and save everyone from being too graphic). I found myself subsisting on Lola Remedios (nope, not getting paid for this but I certainly would welcome a box) and indulging in pockets of rest wherever or whenever I could find it.
That said, I am acutely aware of how many deadlines I’ve missed for the blog. This is my way of apologising for the delays, and appreciating everyone’s patience. The next few entries admittedly would be a lot of catching up, and wishing myself all the luck in the world that I can make it (PS, I am writing this in a hotel room in Hong Kong… I am in the middle of a project. Again. And internet in my hotel is wonky. *sigh*).
Anyway. One of my favourite events last October was Bar Takeover: Thrilla in Manila event held last October 11 and 12 in Mistral Rooftop Bar, Raffles Makati.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that pinoys tend to excel in the following fields: Singing competitions, beauty pageants, boxing, and the world of food and beverage (has anyone seen how our mixologists have been rocking global competitions lately?).
Occasionally, these worlds collide… Like, say… When Pacquiao had a brief singing career. Ever the alcohol-phile, however, I prefer involving alcohol in the mix (pardon the pun). This is likely the reason why I enjoyed the Bar Takeover event (apart from catching up with friends, of course).
I’m not really good at boxing references (my friend Jeeves is significantly better at it, as evidenced by his article), so I’ll just give a rundown of the cocktails featured in the event.
The first set includes cocktails created by the mixologist who represented the most stylish rooftop bar of Bangkok, Thailand – SO Sofitel Bangkok – Kishan “So Kish” Rampersad. With a career that included stints in Abu Dhabi, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Maldives, he made bespoke cocktails out of Iron Balls Gin.
A little 411 on the gin: Made by Australian interior designer/bar owner Ashley Sutton (who has made a name for himself in Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Tokyo), the gin is oddly primarily gin and baking spice forward, with the traditional juniper notes taking a backseat.
They worked beautifully as the base of Rampersad’s cocktails:
Laab Moo (with Iron Balls Gin, egg whites, and Laab Spice Syrup)
It was an homage to the Thai salad called Laab Moo, a herby, aromatic dish with a spicy kick and typically served with an egg. The cocktail was a great interpretation, and was exactly how I imagined the salad to be.
G & Thai Tea (with Iron Balls Gin, black Thai tea, infused all spice lime syrup, tonic water, and Cointreau milk foam)
I thought that the zesty, refreshing drink was the collision of two of my favourite things: Thai tea and a proper Gin and Tonic.
Mango Sticky Rice Martini (Iron Balls Gin, mango sticky rice cordial, Mancino Rosso)
I had high expectations because mango sticky rice is my guilty pleasure whenever I’m in Thailand (sorry, nutritionist friend!). I was not disappointed… It totally reminded me of Bangkok dessert hunts.
Representing Manila was the 2019 champion of the Ophir Gin Global Cocktail Philippine Finals and the 2018 Pisco Bauza Competition, Mistral Rooftop Bar’s Head Mixologist Auie Benisano with his concoctions for Sirena Gin.
Sirena, co-created by one of my longtime favourite mixologists Kalel Demetrio… Well, I’ll let the videos of the Sirena Dry Gin and Sirena Blue Pea Gin speak for themselves:
Benisano created the following yummy cocktails:
Purple Hoax (Sirena Blue Pea Gin, Grapefruit Cucumber Shrub, Pomelo Syrup, Ginger Beer)
The thirst-quenching and very pretty drink (loved the flower garnish!) was something I could imagine myself drinking on a beach, getting a tan with a couple of girlfriends.
G & Sea (Sirena Blue Pea Gin, lime bitters, lemongrass, ginger, and nori)
I found the drink to be a well-balanced, wonderfully spiced version of a G&T. I loved the addition of the nori, which gave it a grounding element.
Aurum 53 (Sirena Dry Gin, Golden Tepache, and salted Kiat Kiat tincture)
Personally, I found that the best element of the drink was the dried pineapple… Not to say that the cocktail itself didn’t taste nice… It did. I just found that the added element of the pineapple really sent it over the edge.
Of course, in a true proudly pinoy moment that could put Pacquiao’s wins to shame (and I say that because heck, I love me a good cocktail), Benisano won the competition through IG votes.
Indeed, I never knew that that much fun could be had in a fancy hotel such as Raffles Makati. Sure, it’s still “an oasis of calm and elegance,” but it’s still a good place to have great fun… Preferably with one of Benisano’s drinks. Cheers!