The Philippine Star
POUR YOURSELF A DRINK THIS VALENTINE’S DAY
“Dry dating” is a trend that few bartenders or sommeliers would be very happy with.
The online dating app Bumble introduced this dating style in January 2022 as more couples experimented with not drinking while spending some time together.
But, this Valentine’s Day calls for some rule breaking for our dry daters. Or, perhaps, dry dating is one of those resolutions that never make it past February.
I don’t know about you, but taking advice from a dating app doesn’t seem right. But, on the other hand, people behind the bar have been instrumental to many date nights, such as mixologists and sommeliers. They know how to set the tone right for a couple’s first sip.
So, I asked three F&B people on what they would recommend couples to drink this February: Federico “Rico” Deang, beverage manager of The Peninsula Manila; David Ong, founder of the award-winning bar and cafe concepts The Curator and Oto; and Pilar Almario, sommelier and Moët Hennessy brand ambassador.
ON YOUR FIRST DATE, GO WITH A CLASSIC
Rico Deang recommends a classic martini or dark chocolate martini.
Rico, who has been around bars for about two decades, graduated with a BS in Mathematics, but found himself curious about cocktails.
Nowadays, he knows what to recommend to a couple that walks in The Peninsula, whether they are just starting or have been together for a long time.
He shared, “For those that just started dating or on a first date, go with a classic. At least, there’s a chance that both would know about that drink.” Think of an Aperol Spritz, whiskey sour, or a martini.
But when it comes to a seasoned couple, there’s a difference. Rico said, “They are looking for an adventure. So with this kind of couple, you need to suggest something interesting, something original to The Peninsula or original to another bar.” So, avoid the cheesy Tequila Sunrise at all costs.
To make a reservation at The Lobby of The Peninsula Manila, call 8887-2888, email firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message through PenChat, The Peninsula Manila’s 24-hour e-concierge by clicking https://bit.ly/PenChatFacebook.
SET THE MOOD WITH COCKTAILS
David Ong recommends natural wines or a gin-based cocktail with fruit liqueurs like Crème de Cassis.
David is the founder of the award-winning bar and cafe concepts, The Curator and Oto. Hospitality people love hanging out at his places. And, if you see David behind the bar, there is an energy around him. It’s the kind that makes you repeatedly say, “One more drink, please.”
When I asked him what he would recommend, he surprisingly said, “Honestly, if it were me, I’d open a few bottles of natural wine from Anybody Wines (white, red, orange, rose, or cider)!” He believes that the element of surprise makes it exciting. He shared, “It’s just so different from new- and old-world wines.”
What makes a Valentine’s date? He listed “A bottle, a glass, a great playlist, and nice lighting.” There’s not much more to that — romantic and no-fuss.
However, that’s not to say cocktails don’t have a place. On the contrary, he said, “Cocktails will definitely have the same effect in setting the mood. With a little effort and good execution, it can even be perceived as ‘sexy’ by one’s partner.”
The Curator Coffee & Cocktails is open for dine-in, al fresco, and takeout delivery or curbside pickup. You can contact them at 0916-355-4129, email@example.com or Instagram @thecurator_. They are located at 134 Legazpi St., cor. C. Palanca St., Legazpi Village, Makati.
You can also check out https://anybodywines.com/.
RELAX, SIP WINE
Pilar Almario recommends Moët & Chandon’s Champagne (Rosé Impérial). There is no doubt that Champagne is the best way to start for this sommelier.
“It’s romantic. There’s a seductive quality to it, especially Rosé Champagne. And the pink color with a touch of Malbec gives it an aesthetic touch,” she said.
But more than what’s pleasing to the eye, a glass of wine can relax a couple.
“You know, the right wine can sometimes save an awkward date. It also serves as an icebreaker. Valentine’s can come with a lot of pressure,” Pilar added.
There is no such thing as a perfect night right off the bat. It’s the willingness of two people to engage with each other. Pilar shared that in her time working in Singapore’s restaurant and bar scene, she saw how quality wine could positively change the dynamics of a couple. She shared, “As the night goes on with more food and a bit more wine, there’s more conversation. There’s more engagement, especially if you can see that one person is nervous or stiff.”
She also recommends considering the food that goes with your drink of choice. For the rosé, she suggests pairing it with a ratatouille of fresh vegetables or beef carpaccio.
You can check out boozy.ph for this rosé.
CHEERS TO LOVE
There is a transformative power to a wellcrafted cocktail or a quality glass of wine.
A cocktail and a glass of wine enjoyed with the right partner can serve as many things on a date: an icebreaker, a celebration, a warm hug, or a goodnight kiss. It can even be a miraculous ritual for a couple to reconnect.
I once heard a couple, Astro and Danielle Teller, authors of the relationship book Sacred Cows: The Truth About Divorce and Marriage, share in a podcast a drinking ritual they have only with each other. They have a cocktail recipe: three parts rosemary-infused vodka, two parts vanilla-infused cognac, and one part lemon juice. They called the drink “Monogamy,” as they can only drink this cocktail in each other’s presence.
Whichever recipe you choose to make this February, don’t forget to make it a ritual that you and your partner can enjoy together, lasting longer than happy hour.
Bea Trinidad is a storyteller at Center for Culinary Arts, Manila. She also hosts a “blind leading the blind” podcast on love, Thirsty and Thirty. She lived in Melbourne for a decade — studied communications at the University of Melbourne, worked in advertising, and owned a tequila bar. She writes about food, love and culture. Message her at www.instagram.com/beatrinidad_.