Filipino Cocktails and Guide to Pinoy Drinking

assorted cocktails

When you travel to Cebu, never miss a chance to try these Filipino cocktails!

What’s the quickest way to make friends in Cebu? You have several options, such as going on a karaoke, attending a barangay fiesta, or simply heading to a bar. Whatever method you choose, it would most likely involve alcohol.

Cebuanos, in general, would enjoy a drink or two. But the way they drink is different than what you’re used to. And this doesn’t just apply to the cocktails they make but also how they drink them.

Introduction to Drinking in the Philippines

While drinking in itself is already considered a social activity, the way Filipinos do it makes it feel more communal. For starters, groups don’t buy drinks for each individual member; they buy bottles in bulk with the understanding it’s for everyone.

Another interesting aspect is that regardless of the drink, each member takes turns drinking from the same shot glass (à la round robin); unlike in the West where everyone sips their own drinks. There are certain elements that make this setup work, such as the following:

Tanggero

The role of a tanggero (shotmaker) may seem easy, but it is actually quite meticulous. He or she is in charge of preparing the shot for each member, consistently makes sure the amount is the same for everyone in every round, and also has to remember the order of handing out the shots.

This is compounded by the fact that he or she also has to drink as well, so the tanggero has to do all this while intoxicated. So it’s safe to say that the shotmaker must have the mental fortitude to keep his/her wits about as everyone gets more and more intoxicated.

Pulutan

No drinking spree is complete without something to munch on. Pulutan is basically any food you have on hand, regardless of whether they are main dishes, appetizers, or just snacks. However, there are certain dishes that go well with alcohol.

In the case of Philippine cuisine, some of these dishes include sisig, crispy pata, chicharon, and kinilaw.

Chaser

A chaser is a drink that washes down the flavor of the alcohol. The drink itself can be anything from soda to juice, as long as it soothes the burning feeling after you swallow. Chasers are usually served when a group is drinking hard liquor, such as gin, tequila, and vodka. However, there are some adventurous drinkers that use other alcoholic drinks as their chaser, beer being the most common.

All of these elements combined make Filipino drinking more ideal for groups and for getting to know new people. So if you are wondering what are some of the more sociable things to do in Cebu, drinking is at the top of the list. It would certainly make experiencing the Cebu nightlife more colorful.

But drinking is also the perfect avenue for creativity. That’s because there are groups that come up with their own signature cocktail whenever they hang out. Some concoctions are just so good that other groups are bound to know about them through word of mouth.

With that said, here are some of the more popular Filipino cocktails:

Meztiza

Tall glass of Meztiza

Try a refreshing glass of Meztiza during summer.

As popular as beer can be, that bitter taste can be overpowering to some. For this reason, it goes well with other hard drinks, rum being one of them. This cocktail, in particular, is more suited for heavy drinkers.

But even with the presence of rum and beer, surprisingly Mestiza still has a rather mild taste, which is neutralized by the soda. However, don’t be easily deceived by its mildness because one or two of these can already leave you tipsy.

Ingredients: Rum, beer, cola

Boracay

Enjoy the creamy and smooth taste of Boracay.

Cebuanos are fond of sweets, so it’s understandable that penchant also manifests in their drinks. Boracay, named after the popular island destination, is a perfect sweet drink for the summer.

Because of how mild it is, it’s perfect for people who aren’t hard drinkers. It’s also one of the easiest to prepare because you can find most of the ingredients in most supermarkets, convenience stores, and even sari-sari stores.

Ingredients: Rum, milk, instant coffee, ice

Gin Pom

Try a shot of fruity gin pom with your friends.

Gin Pom is actually a portmanteau of gin pomelo and is, by far, the most popular cocktail in the country—so much so that Radioactive Sago Project (a popular Filipino band) wrote a song about it.

This drink became popular right after Tang started selling litro packs of the pomelo juice flavour. Since then, Gin Pom has become a staple drink during beach or summer outings. It’s also one of the most flexible drinks because you can easily add or swap in other flavored juices.

All in all, Gin Pom is regarded as the quintessential Philippine cocktail and the go-to Filipino punch drink.

Ingredients: Gin, powdered pomelo juice, water, ice

Tubâ and Bahalina

Filipinos can’t get enough of coconut. They drink the water, eat the plump flesh inside, and even ferment the sap to make wine. You can usually find tubâ in the more rural areas, and you can find plenty because they are surprisingly fast to make.

Tubâ is a favorite alcoholic drink in Visayas and Mindanao.

Tubâ, a type of wine made from the sap of palm trees, is fermented for as short as 24 hours and has the lowest alcohol percentage. It is naturally milky white in color and has a sweet taste. The red-orange color is made when tongog or barok is added, which also adds a bitter taste. When it is fermented for a few more days or even months, it now becomes bahalina. These two should not be confused with Luzon’s lambanog, which is a distilled and is equivalent to vodka.

When the palm wine is buried for months and usually up to year, it becomes a bahalina.

The regular tubâ is a perfect introduction to the Visayan drinks. But also make sure to try bahalina if you are craving for something stronger. If you want, you can mix other flavors with any of these coconut wine variants.

You can find most of these drinks in Cebu clubs and bars. If you are invited to someone’s home, these Filipino alcoholic drinks are easy enough to make on your own.

Ingredients: Fermented coconut sap, tongog or barok

All in all, Filipino cocktails are just as unique as the country they hail from. And when you are vacationing in Cebu, you’re bound to try one or all of these drinks.

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