“To our friends who know the worst about us but refuse to believe it.”— drinking toast
Gays have gaydars.
It’s useful for checking whether a man’s interest in Broadway musicals and/or Barbara Streisand has gone beyond levels generally acceptable for his gender.
However, no such devices are available for drunkards (or, for that matter, lesbians).
But of course, I may be wrong.
Which is why I was amused when an acquaintance from eastern Metro Manila managed to track me down and asked me to have a beer with him on a day when I was doing exactly nothing.
The government agency that hired me a year ago as a consultant was shuttered by no less than the President.
With the shutdown, I wasn’t expecting checks to arrive anytime soon from the Aquino administration.
As expected, for the next month or so, budget for beer would be tightened, if only to cover life’s non-essentials like food and rent.
In short, on that day the guy tracked me down, I had very little to look forward to. So why stay sober at all?
I agreed to drink, even with someone who was practically a stranger.
A few text messages later, we met at a hole-in-the-wall in Quezon City.
After the pleasantries — which took about six bottles of beer — he then popped the question: Was I willing to blog regularly for this Tumblr.com site that he was putting up?
It’s called Drunken Dispatches, a blog about anything vaguely related to drinking. [See: Drunken Dispatches]
“It’s not literature. It’s a blog,” he said, wolfing down our pulutan like an Islamic guy on the first sundown of this period when they don’t eat during the daytime.
At first, I wasn’t too impressed.
Sure, I probably drank more regularly than the regular drinker and therefore had more material to offer and perhaps even blog about.
But I needed cold hard cash, which he didn’t offer.
In any case, money didn’t matter eventually.
Just being asked to join was an honor. Or so I found out later.
The quality of the blog’s content exceeded those found on other websites, such as, for instance, this one.
One entry talked about a breakup, another dealt with about liquid courage. The latest, as of this posting, discussed the perils of commuting while drunk.
So now, I’m waiting for him to allow me to post my own entries on the website.
I guess he better do that soon before a real day job gets in the way of my drunken dispatches.
Lucio Tan had nothing to do with this of course.
Save for the fact that Tan — one of the Philippines’ richest persons — controls Tanduay Holdings Inc., a company whose affiliate happens to manufacture two of three products which, mixed and measured properly, would produce a tasty and refreshing drink. [See: Lucio Tan]
It’s called Cuba Libre: The Regular Filipino Guy’s Version, a serving of which costs less than a bottle of beer. [See: Cuba Libre]
Ingredients of Cuba Libre: RFGV are as follows:
Tanduay Superior Rhum 12 years old (approximately P155 per 70 cL bottle)
Jamaica Lime Juice Cordial (approximately P40 per 350 ml bottle)
A bottle of Coca Cola
(approximately P22 per 500 ml bottle)
Put three jiggers of Tanduay, six jiggers of Coke, and three-fourths to one jigger of Jamaica Lime Juice Cordial in a tumbler. Mix vigorously for a minute or so. Load it up with lots of ice, wait for another minute until it’s cold enough, and enjoy thoroughly yet responsibly.
Disclaimer: No promotional consideration has been received by this blog from Tanduay Distillers Inc., its parent, affiliates, executives, or employees. Yep, not even a poster. Or face time with models featured on the company’s website. [See: Tanduay]
Desperation — not necessity — is the mother of invention.
After all, it was desperation which forced me to look for a quick, cheap fix one night when I discovered that the sangria I bought — Maria Clara sangria produced by Destileria Limtuaco — was far too sweet for my taste.
The company’s sangria used too much sugar, making it taste like the sweetener used in taho, a local snack food made from tofu.
But then again, I can’t blame the company.
Majority of Filipinos like to have their food and drink sweet, explaining why local companies produce ham, wine, spaghetti sauces, and indeed — sangria — to suit market preferences.
Let me just say that I have nothing against Destileria Limtuaco and their products.
Fact is, I love their calendars, pictures of which can be found at the company’s website. However, the calendars are not large enough to be used for desktop wallpapers, an oversight that the company should rectify (that is, if it wants increased website visits).
Anyway, a few days before Christmas, I bought two bottles of Maria Clara sangria, which were priced lower than various imported brands.
Although I had tried, liked, and bought a foreign-made sangria before, I was prompted to buy locally when I was reminded that yes, a Philippine liquor company also made and sold sangria.
Besides helping the environment — foreign-made goods, however cheaper, incur more emissions since these need to be transported to our shores — buying Filipino also boosts the Philippine economy since local demand will encourage domestic firms to invest more in their operations.
More investments for local operations creates new jobs. New jobs increase demand for goods, which in turn, will lead to a virtuous cycle since companies will invest more for local operations.
But I digress (and too much at that).
When I finally took a sip of Maria Clara sangria, I realized that I wasn’t only endangering my liver, I was also increasing my risk for diabetes.
So I thought about a compromise, which in some way involved the manner by which I would kick the bucket (I went for liver cancer).
While seeking inspiration, I headed for the apartment’s micro-bar, which, at that time, was running low on supplies.
JMB — that’s Jack’s Micro-Bar to you, my friend — consisted of nothing but bottles of tonic water, a cocktail shaker, a shot glass, and a dozen or so lowball, champagne flute, and wine glasses.
I was then seized by inspiration.
And so, I now bring to you instructions for making what I call the Maria Clara Lite, a drink which I won’t call my own because someone else may have thought of this one beforehand.
1) Put two shots of Maria Clara sangria into cocktail shaker filled with ice.
2) Pour one shot of tonic water.
3) Shake vigorously.
Pay much heed to instruction number four because this formulation can also work as a refreshing midday drink. Cheers!
From the Due Recognition is Given to department. Gratuitous White Castle billboard ad picture featuring RR Enriquez from media.photobucket.com. White Castle whisky is produced by Destileria Limtuaco, the same company that makes Maria Clara Sangria. The pic is arguably a long shot from the blog entry topic but it remains better than a photo of a Maria Clara Sangria label.
Food reviews are complicated.
How do you even begin to describe the taste, let alone the texture, of substances that we willingly — most of the time at least — put in our mouths?
Is the meat tough, like substandard bubble gum dispensed by a machine older than your pimply-faced teenager? Was that glass of green tea refreshing, like ice-cold beer consumed on a warm evening, preferably in the company of a smart and pretty female?
I barely have an idea.
Besides always eating on the run — supposedly bad for your health — I generally subsist on what are now considered as relief goods.
I am not kidding.
Twice a day for the past few months or so, it’s been pork and beans and meat loaf for me.
Fortunately, my nutritional deficits are covered in one way or the other by multivitamins and the occasional fruit, usually locally-grown bananas. (However cheap and tasty, imported fruit incurs more carbon emissions since these have to be transported at long distances.)
Just about the only domestic privilege I enjoy, food-wise, is coffee, thanks to a machine that keeps on brewing, virtually maintenance-free, six years after it produced its first cup.
Without my dependable Braun coffeemaker, my daily food fare would have shamed displaced refugees, disaster victims, and domestic airline passengers.
As far as I’m concerned, any meal served with china and silver is already cuisine. It can be a hot, smoky carinderia along a dusty highway but if the plates are ceramic and the utensils gleam at the smallest sliver of light, that’s fine dining for me.
Which now explains why I find it difficult to write food reviews.
With my unbelievably low standards, how can readers trust my taste?
Take this establishment I agreed to visit three weeks ago with three co-workers — Jayme Gatbonton, who later wrote the food review; Analyn Perez, who took pictures; and Jonathan Perez, who smiled and ate (and vice-versa) even though I continued to talk to him with my mouth full.
No question about it: the food was great.
The poultry could have been a little tender though — the flesh struggled with spoon and fork inside the small battleground of a bowl.
But the fight was worth it.
Every bite was a winner, allowing sweet, salty, and spicy flavors to slowly come together in the palate, an experience that anyone used to fast food fare would do well to savor.
And so, on that Friday evening, savor I did, knowing that it might take more than a month before I could get my dose of fine dining again.
It was, I am not afraid to admit, an altogether pleasant experience — good food taken with good company.
Had alcohol been served after the delicious yogurt dessert, it would have been perfect.
After all, man — especially this one — does not live on good food alone.
But then again, that’s a completely different story altogether, best told after work in the company of like-minded tipplers.
Anyone up for a drink later?