Morals and Malice ups the ante of Cebu’s after hours with craft cocktails
“Craft” and “artisanal” used to mean something in the world of food and drink— that is, until they lost their novelty sometime between their transition from being marks of quality to becoming proverbial clickbait in the world of F&B. Since then, people have learned that craft does not always equal excellent and that labels mean nothing unless something actually tastes good. But in Morals and Malice, the burgeoning speakeasy’s proprietors are changing the cocktail game for Cebuanos, giving craft cocktails the credit they’re due with an attention to detail that turns Friday night libation into a liquid degustation.
The craft cocktail concept was the product of partners Kenneth Cobonpue, Glenn Soco, Paco Rodriguez, and Michael Yu’s shared passion for a good drink. While mixology has been developing as a science in western cultures and gaining popularity in Manila for a little over a year now, Cebu has yet to boast its own craft cocktail bar. But Yu notes of his fellow Cebuano drinkers: “Cebu’s ready for a concept like this. They know what they’re paying for. We have a few customers who ask questions about the drinks and who are really questioning the standards.”
To ensure they’re not selling the craft cocktail culture short, the men flew to Manila to seek out the perfect partners to build the bar’s menu and drinks. What they got were Lee Watson, who part-owns ABV and developed the beverage programs at establishments such as Solaire and Antonio’s, to name a few, and Kalel “Liquido Maestro” Demetrio. The duo refined the four partners’ concept for Malice. When presented with the idea of building a bar, the proprietors wanted to stick to the concept of Cebu, hence a collection of drinks that revolves around ingredients endemic to the island.
In coming up with the 15 cocktails for Malice, Demetrio asked for a tour of Cebu’s local markets, including a trip to Carbon