F&B World - - NEWS - Text by SEPTEM­BER MAHINO Pho­tos by PAT MA­TEO Recipes by KALEL DEMETRIO

Millennials are driv­ing the bev­er­age in­dus­try to­wards fla­vors that are fa­mil­iar yet ex­cit­ing

Credit it both to youth and the avail­abil­ity of op­tions, but the drink­ing mil­len­nial crowd in gen­eral just has a more ad­ven­tur­ous palate, to the point that they’re driv­ing the four most pop­u­lar fla­vor pro­files in the lo­cal cock­tail land­scape: bit­ter, sour, spicy, and botan­i­cal.

The first three are easy to un­der­stand. Among bit­ter cock­tails, the Ne­groni is the flag- bearer of the clas­sics that emerged dur­ing the hey­day of speakeasies while the whiskey sour em­bod­ies the best of the acidic, lip- smack­ing de­light of sour drinks. Mixol­o­gist and Manila’s Liq­uido Mae­stro Kalel Demetrio says this drink is loved by many, “and the most re­cent trend is bal­anc­ing its body with an egg white.” As for a fa­mous spicy cock­tail, the Bloody Mary rules with its use of Tabasco sauce. “It’s also known to cure hang­overs.”

Botan­i­cal cock­tails can be con­fus­ing to some, though. “The ‘ botan­i­cal’ fla­vor is of­ten one of the most mis­un­der­stood be­cause those who con­sider them­selves ‘ma­cho’ think of it as ‘fem­i­nine,’ which is re­ally not the case,” Liq­uid Con­cepts Philip­pines COO and prin­ci­pal bar­tender Larry Gue­vara ex­plains. The mis­con­cep­tion can be due to the drinks’ fla­vors, notes, and even aro­mas that are de­rived not just from herbs and spices but also from flow­ers like laven­der, hi­bis­cus, el­der­flower, and even sam­pa­guita. Says Demetrio, “These cock­tails are rich in fla­vor due to in­gre­di­ents that used to be [ re­served only] for chefs but are now a bar­tender’s al­lies, too.” In fact, for Niner Ichi Nana mixol­o­gist Mark Her­rera, flo­ral- de­rived home­made syrups work re­ally well with cer­tain “mas­cu­line” spir­its like gin. “For ex­am­ple, there’s our Avi­a­tion cock­tail that has gin, lemon juice, and crème de vi­o­lette, which gives it that botan­i­cal fla­vor.”

Sweet­ness is miss­ing on the hot list, though Demetrio as­sures that it’s a qui­etly per­va­sive el­e­ment. “Sugar is present in every con­coc­tion. It’s just that its level in drinks has gone down, com­pared to when bars used a lot of in­dus­trial syrup and strong fla­vors and col­ors. Our bar­tenders’ knowl­edge about fla­vors has since grown, so every in­gre­di­ent put in every glass is care­fully high­lighted.”

All three credit the dy­namism of the lo­cal drink­ing scene, trend­ing

drink fla­vors and all, to the millennials’ fas­ci­na­tion for the prod­ucts they con­sume. “They con­sider not only how a cock­tail looks but also its pre­sen­ta­tion as we’re in the so­cial me­dia era now,” re­marks Her­rera. “They’re still ex­plor­ing drink­ing, so find­ing fla­vors they like is a tri­a­land- er­ror thing.”

“They’re also drawn to the how’s and why’s of cer­tain drinks and fla­vor com­bi­na­tions,” Gue­vara adds. Young drinkers are curious about the rea­son­ing be­hind the use of cer­tain in­gre­di­ents, the mixol­ogy tech­niques ap­plied, even the type of ice used, “which mo­ti­vates us to step up our bar­tend­ing skills.” He notes, though, that ac­cess is key for a drinker, mil­len­nial or not, to de­velop a more so­phis­ti­cated palate.

Given the al­most un­lim­ited ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion about other drink­ing cul­tures as well as the grow­ing ex­per­tise of lo­cal bar­tenders about craft cock­tails, this hot list will def­i­nitely evolve soon. Her­rera says, “Our bev­er­age scene is boom­ing as more Filipinos learn the art of drink­ing. They’re up for the chal­lenge of try­ing some­thing new they’ve seen or heard.” But whether it’s clink­ing bot­tles of Pale Pilsen at a street cor­ner or nurs­ing cock­tails at a trendy bar, pakik­isama re­mains the most en­dur­ing fla­vor in Filipino drink­ing across all ages. “Re­gard­less of the fla­vor changes and the de­mands for qual­ity and well- crafted drinks,” Gue­vara con­cludes, “we al­ways find some­thing good to cel­e­brate to­gether about.”

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