12 Distinctly Filipino Drinks You Should Try

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“Heaven” has no exact definition. For the religious, it’s the dwelling place of God or the ultimate destination of a life lived well. There can also be small slices of heaven on earth like quality time with loved ones, the elation that comes with an accomplished work, or a weekend escape to the beach with unlimited access to the best boozes in the land.

They say that in heaven there’s no beer, we beg to differ. Here’s a list of the top booze to try in the Philippines.

The King: San Miguel Pale Pilsen

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No self-respecting list of top boozes in the Philippines doesn’t have San Miguel beer. This well-loved Filipino drink traces its history back to 1890 when a group of Spaniards opened a brewery in Manila and introduced beer to Filipinos. After more than 100 years, San Miguel beer remains the king of celebrations and vacation getaways. What makes this drink a national treasure? It has the right amount of bitterness and alcohol, not too light nor too heavy.

A strong kick c/o Red Horse Beer

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“Rebellious and flavorful yet bold and intense” is how Red Horse Beer markets itself. This is preferred by younger drinkers who want a stronger alcohol kick than San Miguel Pale Pilsen. It’s an extra strong beer with a 6.9% alcohol content per volume. In 2015, Red Horse was awarded Best International Lager at the Australian International Beer Awards.

Welcome to the land of smooth gin

The Philippines is home to the world’s heaviest gin drinkers. According to The Economist, Filipinos consume an average of 1.4 liters of gin every year, leading the pack of drinkers from cold regions in Europe and North America. Ginebra San Miguel, locally called “bilog,” remains as the top choice. Foreign travelers are often fascinated to the local way of enjoying this drink: through the “tagay” system. Drinkers form a circle and pass around a shot glass filled with a choice of liquor. Passing up “tagay” is frowned upon, but if you can’t hold your alcohol anymore, you can nominate someone to take it for you.

A “lighter” shade of fun

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In response to the demand for booze with less calorie content (and a “lighter” hangover), manufacturers launched the light version of popular drinks. San Mig Light contains only 100 calories per 330ml serving. It prides itself as “the country’s leading low calorie beer.” There’s also top brandy Emperador Light and the flavored vodka, Tanduay Ice.

The fabulous Chocnut Martini

Nightlife in tourist spots in the Philippines is incomplete without local beers and Filipino version of cocktails. A popular drink is the milk-chocolate Choc Nut, a Pinoy-style chocolate martini that mixes Choc Nut, Absolut Vodka, Jim Beam bourbon, soy milk, and cocoa powder. It’s so good, a second or third order is quite expected.

Boracay’s own booze

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Boracay, arguably the country’s best beach, is home to original Filipino cocktails. One of which is its namesake Boracay, which is made of rum, condensed milk, coffee, and chocolate malt powder. This is served with ice and may include crushed peanuts. It’s the local version of Bailey’s.  

Sand, sea, and Pineapple Sling

What are the components of a Boracay nightlife? Reggae music, fire dance, and booze. One of the most popular drinks in beach bars is the Pineapple Sling. What makes the Boracay version of this fruity gin-based booze special is the juicy pineapples. This drink offers a uniquely refreshing feeling perfect for seaside fun.

You can never go wrong with Gin Pomelo

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The simplest are always the best, even in alcoholic drinks. Gin Pomelo is a mix of gin, pomelo juice, and water, served chilled. For a real fruity taste, juice a pomelo fruit. Ginebra gin is a top choice among locals.

Another variation of this concoction is the Gin Pom Pi, which is Gin Pomelo plus fresh calamansi juice, cucumber juice, honey, and fresh pomelo shreds. Now that’s a healthy booze!

Enjoy Mango Mojitos

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The Philippines harvests high quality mangoes. The tropical fruit is one of the country’s top exports. Mango mojitos offer the best of the Philippines: mangoes and a premium local rum, Don Papa rum. Add calamansi (Philippine lime), syrup, and mint.

Halo-halo with lambanog

Halo-Halo, literally “mix mix,” is a favorite local dessert that features beans, jellies, fruits, milk, and crushed ice topped with purple yam or leche flan. This is a staple during hot summer days by the beach. For an alcoholic twist, add lambanog or coconut wine.

Original Pinoy “calamantini”

Calamansi, a local lime, is often added in dishes, sauces, juices, and desserts. This little green fruit is also used to cure common colds and sore throat. Calamansi martini or calamantini is made of gin, calamansi liquor, and calamansi juice. It is said that this local martini was born in Bohol. The next time you travel to the Chocolate Hills, don’t forget to order calamantini!

A tribute to a world-famous volcano

You’ll never run out of places to go to in the Philippines. You can go mountain trekking in the Cordillera region up north or relax in the surfing hub of Baler. There’s also the paradise-like water features in Palawan and the historic churches in Bicol. As a tribute to the cone-shaped Mayon Volcano in Albay province, the Mojito de Mayon was created. It is a mix of vodka, syrup, and lime, topped with cone-shaped shaved ice. You can also have a strawberry or mango-flavored mojito.

The Philippines may be known for its beaches, karaoke-loving locals, and the delicacy balut. Little do foreigners know that the country is also home to some of the world’s best alcoholic drinks from lagers to fruit-based cocktails. Filipinos are naturally sociable. Expect to be invited to a lot of feasts and parties with a lot of drinking. The next time you visit the country, remember to pack stories and jokes as these go well with an ice-cold local beer.

 

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