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Bottoms up with our favorite local drink savants

By GABBIE TATAD, The Philippine STAR Published Nov 10, 2020 4:00 pm

You deserve a drink.

We’ve made it to the last quarter of 2020, dealing with a hundred different adjustments and wondering what this new landscape holds for us. There are great days for which you break open the bubbly, celebrate, and count your blessings. Then there are days when you need something stronger or possibly in larger quantities, quietly nursed or downed with friends on Zoom. Whatever the situation might be, I’m entirely sure that you deserve a drink. And should you want one (or 12), here are some stellar places to consider.

Team Wine

JC Wines is out to make wine less intimidating. Sure, they source from reputable direct importers, and choose to sell wines from small, family-owned vineyards from around the globe. Their bottles are high quality, carried in high-end restaurants more than in supermarkets, and so are far less mainstream. The bottles are also sold for home delivery without any further markup from SRP, with their current catalog’s lineup kicking off somewhere around the P500 mark.

While not entirely inexpensive, this makes great wines much more accessible and allows the vino-curious to dip their toes in gently. As the brand likes to say, “Drinking shouldn’t be intimidating. There’s no need to become a wine expert or a geek, and everyone needs a good bottle of wine at home!” 

Check them out on Instagram at @jc_wines and see what piques your curiosity.

At-home degustation: JC Wines makes it easy to level up your weeknight meals with the right bottle of restaurant-quality wine.

Espa-fil.com is the online home of Espa-Fil Import Export Corp — home to your favorite Spanish staples like Molinera, Don Simon, J. Garcia Carreon, as well as in-house brand Capri. Their range of goods is impressive, beverage selection of course included. They have options to fit every budget, with bottles selling for as low as P200 each.

When asked for recommendations, their lower-end favorites are the Don Simon Sangria and the Opera Prima Merlot. Their top picks from the entire selection, however, include the Pata Negra Roble from the Ribero del Duero region. The easy-drinking Pata Negra Gran Reserva from Valdepeñas, which is made with French oak in a traditional Rioja style, also ranks high. Whatever the case, it’s an easy spot to pick up a delicious drink without breaking the bank, while adding a cheeky little cocido or fabada to your cart, too.

Click on over to espa-fil.com and keep your eyes peeled for a weekend special featuring the wines mentioned above.

Red is mellow: Wines like this easygoing Tempranillo from Pata Negra can be at your door with just a quick click at Espa-fil.com.

Bombvinos Natural Wines is a wine spot backed by principle and wit. Just a scroll through their socials and their site is enough to make one curious about natural wines, and to leave any previous perceptions at the door. They explain that the natural wine category is marked by the least amount of human intervention in the winemaking process, involving no artificial yeasts and instead opting for natural yeasts found in the skin of the grapes themselves. The lack of sulfites as preservatives, which are known to cause many a wine migraine, also keeps the flavor of the wine at its most scrumptious.

What’s also interesting is their focus on how ethically wine is made by those they source from, which gives integrity not only to the flavor, but also to the whole consumer experience. I personally love their orange wine selection, but have a quick poke around and see what calls out to you. This is a playful place to discover wine, for both the seasoned and the new.

Hop over to bombvinos.com or @bombvinos on Instagram for more fun with natural wines.

A summer Rosso: Try a different shade of wine with this bottle of BAT by Abbazia San Giorgo and relish the summer we should've had.

Team Cocktails

The Curator Coffee & Cocktails is and forever will be my personal favorite spot in Manila. Their menu is great because of the time and care that’s put into crafting it, together with the experience of impeccable service, dim lights, and great music.

The saddest things to me (although this is clearly a first-world problem), is not being able to pop over for one of those “one drink lang” evenings with friends you haven’t seen in a while. Luckily, they have their Curator At Home delivery service that allows you to order the best of The Curator at home. The #StillHurting is one of my favorites — a riff on a Negroni that employs tequila blanco, mezcal, coffee-infused vermouth, and Campari. The Penny Lane is also lovely, with a base of bourbon whiskey, tempered into a refreshing mix by way of some Cocchi Americano, sweet vermouth, peach liqueur, orange bitters, and Angostura.

But the best part is their replication of the bar experience, where you can sit right by the bartenders and tell them what your flavor mood is, and they shake up something special for you. They offer the bespoke cocktail option on their delivery menu, too, which is heartwarming, and not just because of the booze.

Kick off your next cocktail adventure over at delivery.thecuratorcooffeeandcocktails.com.

How does it feel? The Curator's staff gets in your drink feelings as they try to craft your bespoke drink. Or you could order one of their tasty menu offerings, like this delish Caffé Milano.

Proudly Promdi, in a pre-pandemic world, was known for its Traveling Promdi Bar. Promdi being an old-school slang term for “from the province,” Proudly Promdi brings a special focus to local spirits, which they mix into their cocktails as well as distribute in bottles.

One of these is Bugnay wine, handmade from a tropical berry by winemaking tribes in Ilocos Norte. The other is Tapuey Rice Wine, which is made from cooked glutinous rice that is left to ferment in earthen jars, and marked by a tangy sweetness.

They have since branched out into bottled cocktails, namely the Katipunero — a bold, whiskey-based mix that has touches of basil, ginger, and strawberry to finish off the Tapuey accent — and the Mestiza, a lighter gin-based concoction that veers sweeter with Bugnay, lemon, mango, jasmine tea, and rose. The drinks themselves are fun, but also give one a sense of rootedness and curiosity in what one can really do with our local spirits.

Take a peek over at proudlypromdi.com and see what strikes your fancy.

Mestizang Katipunera: Why choose when you can sample both of Proudly Promdi's latest bottled cocktails in a thoughtful little box set?

Team Everything Else

Boozy PH, first of all, ships nationwide. If you’re in Metro Manila, however, they offer guaranteed 90-minute delivery. (I will say I once placed an order while sorely in need of a drink, and was extremely pleased to be cracking open a Hoegaarden Rosée within 30 minutes of checking out.) They offer the widest array of liquors and spirits you can probably get in one place online, especially at this time, from an incredible range of brands at liquor store prices. Literally just think it, and it’s likely that they offer it, if not a highly comparable substitute.

Boozy also sells mixers and even some snacks, so all you really need to do is decide what the vibe is (or how it might progress) and start adding to cart.

Your alco-haul starts over at boozy.ph.

Between a Roku and a hard place: Find your favorite gins, whiskeys, brandies, and more over at Boozy PH.