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Our Awesome Lambanog January 14, 2016

Posted by Alex Sawit in Food & Drink, Happenings at the Shop.

By Alex Sawit

January 14, 2016



Photo originally posted by FlipTrip founder April Cuenca on Instagram.


   “Lambanog tasting at Cyrano tonight!” happily announced the Instagram post of Ms. April Cuenca, founder of acclaimed Pinoy travel gateway FlipTrip, when she uploaded a photo last Saturday. “Say goodbye to rocket fuel-type lambanog. Blended lambanog from Quezon and Batangas will change how you see our awesome local alcohol!”

   Believe it or not, Cyrano friends, lambanog tasting nights are now one of my favorite things at the wine shop. Yes, we now offer lambanog in a wine establishment!

   Sometimes referred to as coconut “moonshine” in the Philippines, lambanog is a traditional distilled spirit of the islands, made from the sap of the coconut tree’s unopened flower pods. What makes it so rewarding to serve this at the wine shop is that we now have our very own “house lambanog”, which we ourselves crafted according to our uniquely original style. It’s even more rewarding when we get to serve it to appreciative guests who know how to taste with discerning palates, which was exactly the case at last Saturday’s exclusive tasting event for Ms. Cuenca and her artist friend, Ms. Ina Jardiolin.

   I started the tasting session by explaining to my two special guests that consistency is a problem in this Pinoy cottage industry. Lambanog-making families typically resist suggestions to modernize their backyard production methods, which hinders the evolution of a better-quality product that can capture the imaginations of both local and foreign connoisseurs.

   “This made me think about how scotch whisky developed in Britain as a modern consumer product,” I said while I carefully arranged bottles and glasses on the counter in front of the two young ladies, who were seated at the bar.

   “In the old days, booze merchants needed a way to supply the British market with whisky of consistent quality and in large volumes. The problem was that even though whisky distilleries were plentiful in Scotland, each could only produce relatively limited quantities. The solution was for each merchant house to bottle its own “house” blend – selecting different whiskies from different Scottish regions from as many suppliers as necessary, then blending these whiskies with other grain spirits into a single product of consistent style and quality. That’s how blended scotch started, and that’s how Johnnie Walker, Dewar’s, Chivas Regal, and all the others became the successful global brands that they are today.”

   “So I thought,” I continued, after pouring some lamabanog for April and Ina, “why not do the same with lambanog?”

   That’s how I told my guests that Cyrano Wine Shop is the first in the market to innovate the concept of blended lambanog.

   “The first one you’re tasting,” I said as the girls tried the clear spirit that I poured from the heavy, impressively square-shaped bottle, “is a blend of Quezon and Batangas lambanog, which uses a very high proportion of the Batangas variety to give the blend a beautiful, floral softness.”

   “The second one,” I continued when the girls moved to the next offering, which was poured from the big, stocky, rounded-looking bottle, “has a higher proportion of Quezon lambanog, which gives the blend a more intensely flavored finish. The recipes for both blends are a trade secret, of course.”

   “Ours is the kind of lambanog that deserves to be leisurely sipped and savored in a bar,” I said, concluding my presentation. “Serve it chilled and neat or with a little ice…have it as your first drink of the night or as your nightcap…make a lambanog martini…just enjoy it as you please.”

   When the girls compared notes, April professed her preference for the more floral blend and Ina went for the one with a more intense finish. Regardless, the girls were visibly excited about both Cyrano blends, which they found so delicious and classy that the experience has changed the way they look at lambanog.

   My gratitude to both of you, April and Ina, not only for the valuable insights you offered about our new branded product and but also for your genuine appreciation of it. And yeah, thanks for calling it awesome!







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