5 Native Filipino Liquors, Spirits, and Wine
The Philippines is rife with precious practices of producing alcohol with local ingredients - read on to learn more about tapuey, lambanog, and more.
From world-class rum like Don Papa to distinctly Filipino liqueur, and more recently, flavourful gin boasting local botanicals like Santa Ana, the Philippines is growing to be one-to-watch in the world of alcoholic beverages. However, our sprawling archipelago also has a vibrant history of producing unique and native liquors, spirits, and wine worthy of our pride and drinking enjoyment. These products are a delicious and important reminder of our rich heritage and innovative practices, showcasing local ingredients like coconut, sugarcane, bugnay berries, and rice.
Tapuey (also spelled tapuy or tapey) is a Filipino rice wine made from yeast and fermented glutinous rice, kept in traditional earthen jars until ready for consumption. It has an alcohol by volume (ABV) of around 14-19 per cent, and has a flavour profile reminiscent of molasses with a bit of tang, great for sipping on its own or mixing into cocktails. For a sample of the latter, try out Proudly Promdi's bottled Fiesta made with tapuey, cinnamon whiskey, amaretto, vanilla extract, and lemon (plus milk as part of the clarification process).
Aptly dubbed Philippine sugarcane wine, basi is made by crushing sugarcane and allowing the extracted juiced to age and ferment in clay jars, adding ground rice, fruits and/or bark into the mix. It has an ABV of about 10-16 per cent and also has a sweet-sour taste, its flavour profile changing slightly depending on the fruits and bark added. This local alcoholic beverage was the star of the Basi Spritz, a refreshing cocktail from the beloved (and sadly, now-closed) bar Big Bad Wolf.
Read More: Tatler's Guide To The Best Asian Rums 2021
Lambanog is a distilled palm liquor made with coconut or nipa sap, with a high ABV of around 40-45 per cent. Recently, this "coconut vodka" has grown in popularity, with flavoured variants increasingly available - through the original remains in vogue, enjoyed on its own or in cocktails like Toyo Eatery's GinPom (pictured above).
Like lambanog, bahalina is also derived from tubâ or palm wine. However, unlike lambanog, this coconut red wine is not distilled and uses tannin-rich barok (dried bark extracts) to add bitterness and prevent sourness. With an ABV of 10-13 per cent, it is often mixed with soda to add a sweetness more akin to red wine. Bahalina is often celebrated and judged at the cleverly named Oktubafest festival.
Bugnay wine is made from small, red, tropical berries called bugnay or bignay. At around 12 per cent ABV, it has a similar alcohol content to regular grape wine. Though it is easily enjoyed solo, Proudly Promdi uses their sweet and light-bodied bugnay wine in a number of their bottled cocktails, and suggest using it in sangria as well. Agimat at Ugat foraging bar also uses the local wine in their cocktail Dasal Ng Babaylan, blending dark rum, tamarind, sugarcane, kagubatan bitters, and lime to make with the bugnay wine for a truly unique concoction.