Tag Archives: Beer

Weather, Weather Part 2: The Dark Side of Beer

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The normal association between beer and weather is a nice, cold bottle on a hot, sunny day.

The thing I find, however, is that dark beer tends to go well with a cloudy day… First, there’s the colour connection: I have a tendency to relate murky coloured skies with the shadowy hues of a stout. There’s also the texture: Dark beer can be creamy and thick… Not something I want to drink in the heat.

With that in mind, here are a few of my personal favourites that I enjoy during my rainy season exploration of the dark side:

 

Murphy’s Irish Stout

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A can of Murphy’s Irish Stout (available in South Supermarket Alabang and other leading supermarkets)

 

 

Under the same umbrella as the famous (and readily-available) Heineken, this 4% ABV Irish Stout hails from Cork, Ireland. This beer is so dark; its colour classification is under “black” (though I’m sure our friends from Pantone will have a different opinion). Compared to other dark beers, it’s lighter and less bitter, with notes of caramel and malt that make me think it’s a cousin (twice removed) of chocolate milk.

What’s particularly interesting about Murphy’s is that it’s free from any hint of carbonation, making the liquid look like one solid black mass once it settles (and it’s mesmerizing to watch it as it does… Or maybe it’s the alcohol talking…?). The firm creaminess of the head is because of the nitrogen widgets in the can, making pouring the beer in a glass idiot (and tipsy) proof.

 

Guinness Stout (Foreign Extra)

The “bitter” rival of Murphy’s (pun intended), this Irish dry stout is a staple in UK pubs. The standard iteration of the label’s iconic beer gets its burnt flavour from unmalted barley, and has the unusual distinction of positioning itself as a “healthy” beer: Studies claim that Guinness has a good amount of antioxidant compounds (similar to those found in fruits and vegetables), which is good for the heart and slows down the deposit of harmful cholesterol on artery valves.

 

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Guinness Foreign Extra (available in Cash and Carry Supermarket and leading supermarkets)

Personally, I prefer the Foreign Extra variant. This deep brown, 7.5% alcohol variety has pronounced flavours of roasted malt and dark cherries, and is the rough, ashy, heavily hopped brother of the standard Guinness Stout.

 

Stout Crusader Russian Stout by Baguio Craft Brewery

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Baguio Craft Brewery’s Stout Crusader

I rarely rave about particular winemakers/brewers non-stop, but I can never shut up about the dudes from Baguio Craft Brewery and their ingenious beer making skills.

 

Backtrack: At the risk of revealing my “blogging” methods, I have a confession to make: I never simply rely on the Internet, tasting notes, or personal opinions whenever I write an article. As much as I could, I look at books to substantiate anything I put on the blog, and can get pretty OC about it (as any non-writer would, I guess).

That being said, when I tried to look for material on Russian Stouts, it took me about an hour and a half to find one, which brought me to a conclusion: Making Russian Stouts is an ambitious, painstaking, unusual endeavour.

Russian Stouts (or Russian Imperial Stouts) can trace their origins in England, but the popularity of this beer reached its height in the 19th century Russian tsarist court. Everyone knows how tsarist Russia ended up (Anastasia, anyone?), and with that, anything reminiscent of Russian monarchy.

Baguio Craft Brewery’s Stout Crusader, their take on Russian Stouts, is gorgeous: A very hoppy, borderline opaque black beer with bitter, aromatic notes of cooked plums and sultanas, that lasts forever in the mouth and can hold its own with chocolate pudding and coffee-flavoured desserts.

 

San Miguel Cerveza Negra

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Cerveza Negra, available almost anywhere in Manila

This is the Philippines. Whenever anyone talks about Philippine alcohol, one label comes to mind: San Miguel Beer. Their collection includes affordable, accessible beer that caters to the Pinoy (and some foreign!) palate.

Cerveza Negra is an excellent way to begin exploring the world of dark beer. It retains a crisp, refreshing quality (read: not intimidating), but the colour, quality, and flavour profile reminds me of Schwarzbier (a classification of dark lagers that shouldn’t be said five times fast).


 

With that in mind, excuse me while I grab a pint and chill out at home, watching the rain batter our windows.

I’d like to take this opportunity as well to apologize for writing sporadically the past few weeks, but as the photo illustrates, I’ve been busy… It does give a bit of a teaser as to what’s coming next in the blog though. 😉

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What I’ve been busy with, and what to look forward to in our upcoming posts

 

What’s your favourite dark beer? Cheers!

 

 

Weather, Weather Part 1: Coming Up Rosés

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Is it just me, or did the weather in Manila become more schizophrenic than usual?

We’ve had scorching, sunny mornings that last until the stifling, humid afternoons followed by wet, slightly cooler, rainy evenings.

As a proponent of drinking according to the weather, I was confused as to what to drink (and write) about. I mean, normally I would recommend a nice, rich red wine for a cold, damp night; and a crisp, cold beer during a hot day…

But that’s boring.

So I thought… If I were to reverse it, what wine would I have during a warm weather day, and what beer would I have on a rainy one?

 

Rosé in the Heat

 

One of the most underrated wines in the Philippines is the Rosé. Most iterations pair well with Asian food (we had a successful experiment pairing a light rosé with Vigan Longganisa over the weekend), but are good enough to drink on their own, by the beach or the side of the pool*.

Admittedly, I prefer Provence rosés because every bottle takes me back to our first trip to France.

Cue flashback…

Initially, I had this misconception that the French are all about red wines… But I eventually discovered that it’s not true during the summer. Chad and I marvelled at fashionable Parisian women, cigarette in one hand, gossiping the afternoon away over bottles of pretty pink wine.

Being the cheapskate newlyweds we were, however, we decided to get a couple of these bottles (and some charcuterie) from a nearby Carrefour and down it in our tiny hotel… It was as heavenly as it looked.

Fast forward to the present…

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Whispering Angel by Chateau d’Escalans (with many thanks to Premier Wine)

In Manila, one of my favourites has got to be Whispering Angel from Chateau d’Escalans. I did an event on Provence wines with Le Jardin Manila** featuring this baby a few weeks ago and was thrilled because, even before doing a proper tasting evaluation on it, I was sold with this fact: Some of my wine heroes raved about it.

 

Jancis Robinson: “It’s more palate grabbing by far from the Provencal Pink norm”

James Suckling: “Always delicious”

Steven Spurrier: “Very clear and clean and will gain flavours during the year”

 

Enough said. 🙂

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Domaine des Aspras beauties: Les Trois Frères and À Lisa

Other Provence favourites of mine include a couple of rosés coming from a boutique winery called Domaine des Aspras:

  • Trois Frères (Grenache, Cinsault, and Rolle) – Named after the three brothers and third generation of the Latz family currently running the vineyard, Trois Frères Rosé is a beautiful pale pink wine with notes of strawberry, raspberry, mint, peach, and white flowers. It’s fresh, rounded, and fruity on the mouth, with soft textures balancing out a great intensity.
  • À Lisa (Grenache and Cinsault) – The wine was named after the matriarch of the house, Lisa Lutz. I’d say that this is a great benchmark for quality rosés, with its deeper, borderline salmon color, and intense floral notes, with hints of ripe fruit.

 

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Sospechoso, available in Barcino’s

If Provence rosés seem intimidating, the Sospechoso from Barcino’s is a simple, eye-catching rosé with its irreverent bottle design (there are six to choose from!), guaranteed to be a hit in any party. Made from Tempranillo and Bobal, this pale salmon wine has notes of meaty stone fruit on the nose, and is reminiscent of roses on the mouth. Perfect with tapas.

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Cute pink Hoegaarden Rosée (available in Booze Shop, Bel-Air)

Wildcard: A “rosé” beer from one of my favorite Belgian wheat beer makers, Hoegaarden, the Hoegaarden Rosée. This fruity, chic looking pink beer is light and sweet, with prominent flavors of raspberry, and a very low alcohol content at 3%. This has got to be the girliest looking beer I’ve ever had, but no complaints here… Pink is my favourite colour after all. 😉

 

That being said, which refreshing pink drink do you prefer? I’ll see you in the next article, where I’ll be exploring the dark side of the rain (through drinks, of course). Cheers!

 


*Drink Responsibly: Do not drink excessively and swim and/or go sunbathing. It can cause drowning, severe dehydration, and/or sunburn (from falling asleep under the sun).

**By insistent popular demand, Provence Night in Le Jardin Manila will have a Part Two! Please inquire through +639178176584 for the schedule, which should be finalized soon.

 

 

Feelin’ Hot, Hot, HOT…

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Ah, April in Manila.

A time for wallowing in the intense heat.

A time for enjoying a teeny tiny sliver of traffic decongestion because local schools are out for summer break (this, of course, is debatable).

A time for putting aside wine for anything refreshing and cool.

I realize that the moment April arrives in Manila, writer’s block seriously hits me, and with good reason: I can’t stand drinking wine in this heat.

I can go as far as chugging down a very chilled Sauvignon Blanc, or maybe some sparkling wine. I cannot, however, get adventurous in my red wine exploration during this time of the year… I can’t even stand eating red meat these days (much to my doctors’ delight)… Which makes me veer further away from enjoying robust reds.

People who say I should just stick myself in an airconditioned room have obviously not heard that the Philippines has one of the highest electricity rates in Southeast Asia.

I apologize for being a ranting wino (I have yet to get started on the baloney that is the importation of alcohol in the Philippines), but let me blame this on the heat and move on.

In this temperature, I’d rather have coolers, cocktails, and beer… So let me focus on that.

#positivevibes

 

Cocktail of the Month:

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A smoky take on a classic

 

I like cocktails.

As most people know, however, the Pinoy palate is geared towards saccharine sweet food and drinks, and it does translate to the way we make cocktails.

I tend to shy away from diabetes-inducing beverages myself, so I’ve decided to butch up my Screwdriver and use scotch instead. Not just any scotch: A peaty, smoky, masculine Islay.

Here’s how the mix went:

 

Ingredients:

1/2 orange

1/2 lemon

1.5 jiggers Islay scotch

½ teaspoon honey

1 can soda water

 

Procedure:

Chill the soda water before starting. Juice the orange. Put the orange juice, scotch, and honey in a cocktail shaker with tons of ice. Shake. Strain in a rock glass. Pour soda water.

 

Beer of the Month:

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All the way from Sancerre

Maybe it’s my wanderlust coupled with the desire to get out of this inferno added to the French classes I’ve been taking.

Maybe it’s the boredom of having to feature yet another crisp white wine (nothing wrong with that, though).

Whatever it is, my mind ended up transporting itself back to one of the biggest surprises I’ve ever had from the French wine countryside: a brewery.

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Who would mind getting lost in this view?

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Look at all that beer…

See, Sancerre has always been about legendary white wine, and the notion of having a local brewery in the form of Brasserie Sancerroise floored me. Located in what felt like the middle of nowhere, Sancerre, this charming little brewery still uses traditional methods and recipes. They also make beer jellies and candied wines.

Inside, I was told by the nice vendeuse that a) I was allowed to take photos, and b) these are their best sellers:

  • La Sancerroise (Blonde) – An earthy, soft, round blonde beer with hints of green lentils and berries.
  • La Sancerroise au “Gruyt” – An award winning Belgian style beer that used herb and spices instead of hops, using methods done in the Middle Ages.

 

Unfortunately, my imagination can only get me so far… It’s still extremely hot where I’m sitting right now. Excuse me while I indulge in an ice cold beer and cool down.

Cheers!

Clinking Glasses to Questions that Inspire

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I had a horrible time getting over my last bout with writer’s block. Bourdain didn’t work, books didn’t work, and I hardly had time to sit down and actually seek out inspiration.

I found inspiration, however, while I was weeding through my email. Over the course of my career as a professional alcoholic*, I often get asked different drink-related questions, but one of the most common ones is this:

 

“What basic glassware (for alcohol) do I need to buy?”

 

Here are my recommendations for a basic mini-bar at home:

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Just some of the stuff you can find in our home

  • Proper red wine glasses – They’re normally the larger sized wine glasses found in the store. Ordinarily, there are two options: one with a larger, circular bowl called either a Balloon or Burgundy glass; and one with a narrower bowl called a Bordeaux glass.
    If I were to select just one (purchasing both at the same time is indeed a hefty investment), I would suggest getting the Bordeaux glasses first. Larger, more circular bowls collect more aromas and are ideal for delicate reds like Pinot Noir, but there will be a bigger chance of getting a predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, or any similar spicy, bold red wine. These would not require a larger, exposed wine surface to sniff out the little aromas a delicate wine would have. With that in mind, most users will get more mileage out of a Bordeaux glass.
    Trivia: The reds of Burgundy are largely made using Pinot Noir, and the reds of Bordeaux are largely made using Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, hence the reason for the names of the glasses. 😉
  • Proper white wine glasses – Usually, these are the smaller sized wine glasses. These can be used for both white wines and rosés.
  • Sparkling wine glasses – These can also be called champagne glasses or champagne flutes. The elegantly narrow bowls are superb for preserving carbonation in sparkling wines (a must-have for any cocktail party). These are also awesome for Bellinis and Mimosas.
  • Beer glasses – Unbeknownst to many, there are actually several kinds of beer glasses used for specific types of beer (with the intent of really enjoying the best characteristics from the beer). There are tulip pints for dry stouts, nonicks, and even snifters (more often used for brandy).
    Personally, I’d start out with a pilsner for aesthetic purposes: The slender shape is great for showing off the color, transparency, and foam.
    I admittedly bought weizen glasses for our home (which can be seen in the photo), because it not only does a pilsner’s job, it can also lock in aromas on the top of the glass (perfect for objective beer evaluations).
  • Cocktail glasses – These are also called martini glasses. I’ve used these for martinis, cosmopolitans, margaritas, and any “chic” cocktail.
  • High-ball – These can be used for just about everything: water (which we do at home), milk, juice, soda, iced tea, mojitos…
  • Low-ball – Also known as rock glasses, I use these for smaller cocktails (I’ve made White Russian in these), and for brown spirits (whiskey/whisky, cognac, etc).
    I recommend getting a proper snifter for brandy, but a low-ball will be ok to start off with.
  • Shot glasses – Because, shots. 😉 People with nimble fingers and amazing dexterity can use this to experiment on layered drinks (I recommend starting off with traffic light, made by layering grenadine syrup, Galiano herbal liqueur, and Midori melon liqueur).
  • Wildcard Nice To Have: A Decanter – I believe in getting one of these for nicer, older, old-world wines. These babies introduce oxygen, oxidize stinky aromas, and make wine taste smoother. It doesn’t matter what shape it is (there’s standard, cornett, swan, and duck in the market). What’s important is the ease in filling, pouring, and cleaning. I recommend decanting old reds and waiting about 15-30 minutes before consuming the wine.

 

To invest or not to invest in crystal?

I personally can’t find scientific studies that say crystal glassware is better for wine consumption. In my experience, however, they do enhance the wine drinking experience. I recommend getting Riedel (we get ours from Bacchus stores). They’re awesome, a little on the pricey side but not exorbitantly so.

 

There are fun-looking stemless wine glasses. Are they any good?

I prefer stemmed glassware. The purpose of stems is to have something to hold on to without altering the temperature of the wine in the glass with the heat of our hands, thus allowing us to enjoy the wine in its optimum state. In colder areas, it really doesn’t matter. In our tropical country, however, I like eliminating as much unnecessary potential source of temperature alteration (heat!) as I could.

I hope these help. At the end of the day, it’s your glassware, so buy whatever you think suits your lifestyle. Cheers!

Follow Us!

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29 March, Tuesday, 11:30pm, Manila, after a haphazardly prepared dinner with a nice 2005 Saint-Emilion and good company, I’ve finally decided to be a wee bit more public about the blog and create an Instagram account.

There’s not much photos uploaded yet (I’m slowly posting stuff during my free time), but the current content may be familiar to people who have read previous entries of the blog.

Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/2shotsandapintofficial/

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It’s OFFICIAL! Instagram: @2shotsandapintofficial

Here’s to hoping it becomes a good source of #drinkspiration. Cheers!

 

Writer’s Block, Hunger, and Beer

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Hello, my name is Gail, and I’m suffering from writer’s block.

*”Hi, Gail!”*

Anyway, I’m hoping my tried and tested combination of Anthony Bourdain, Natalie MacLean, good food, and a couple of pints of beer would help.

That being said, here’s something I’m really looking forward to:

I mean, come on: Excellent beer (courtesy of Baguio Craft Brewery)? Check.

Awesome burgers (by Burgers and Brewskies)? Check.

Good, fun people all around? CHECK!

See you on April 1 from 11am-9pm in Open Space Jupiter! Cheers!

*video courtesy of 2 Big Guys Productions

What Happens in Baguio…

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…Shouldn’t stay in Baguio.

Before I alarm some of the friends I went to Baguio with (I promise I won’t talk about your seven levels of inebriation in this article), let me explain.

Apart from the fact that it is really and truly the ultimate summer capital of the Philippines (yes, there is a place in our tropical archipelago that goes below 20C!), Baguio is also one of the finest places in the Philippines to go for a major food trip.

I can go on and on about how amazing and fresh the vegetables are (we were lucky to have sampled them straight from the farm!), or how yummy Good Shepherd Ube is (any Pinoy child of the 80s has been dragged to the convent kicking and screaming, only to be sated by a spoonful of their legendary strawberry jam)… But this being a drink blog, I would like to highlight (nay, capitalise) on my ultimate Baguio discovery: Baguio Craft Brewery. It’s the first craft beer brewery in the city, with the brewing equipment in plain sight, a variety of IPAs, dark beers, fruit beers, and great food to pair them with. The brewers (with a reputation of intense attention to detail coupled with an incomparable fun-loving vibe) are always on hand to share this experience (and their amazing passion).

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The sign of good times… 😉

I have heard about these legendary craftsmen ages ago through one of my chef friends, and since then, I made it a mission to take a trip there myself when I had the opportunity.

I finally had my chance over a week ago when a group of my chef and foodie friends decided to go up to Baguio to explore farms, which included a trip to the brewery.

After climbing up to the restaurant, basking in the spectacular view, and enjoying the borderline Rastafarian music (the duo could do a mean acoustic Bob Marley), I was thrilled to meet Chris Ordas, self-proclaimed “Thirst Prevention Officer and Chief Executioner” of Baguio Craft Brewery (his vibe and ultra-unique facial hair, a requirement for the upper echelons of the brewery’s organization, is perfect for his “occupation”).

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Brewskies with Friends (L-R): Chef Jonas Ng (Le Jardin Manila), Chris Ordas, Ed “Steady Eddie” Bustos (Food Creator and “Director of Awesome”), Genghis Khan Enrique (Fun Foodie Friend)… We were told that the fancy facial hair was to further distinguish themselves and their beer. 😉

It seems like I’m writing so much about the people behind the BCB, but it’s impossible to separate them from their beer… Their restaurant/tasting room/brewery alone just resonated with their vibe and friendship. That’s how they got started in the first place: a group of self-proclaimed “raging alcoholics” decided to brew perfect beer in Chris’ garage in Canada (which included Arnold Miguel, Head Brewer and “Ex Moonshiner”; and Alex Basa, “Head Receiver”… Best occupations ever IMHO). In 2013, armed with fervour, mad brewing skills, and the belief that there was a lack of beer choices in the Philippines, Chris, Arnold, and Alex quit their jobs and put up The Tasting Room at Baguio Craft Brewery.

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A multitude of choices for their beers on tap

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Six-pack beers in native packaging (with funky tags!) for easy transport back to Manila, and witty shirts

Some of my favourites (according to classification):

  1. Dark Beers
    • Kraken – A Baltic Porter with sweet, malty notes and hints of roasted coffee and toffee (which, after a couple pints, made me want to cry, “Unleash the Kraken!”… No? #nerdhumor)
    • Stout Crusader – A beautiful, rich, heavenly, creamy Russian Stout that I ended up treating as a dessert and a bartender/chef friend used to make a fun beer cocktail
  2. IPAs (India Pale Ale)
    • Pugaw – A wordplay on Ifugao (a mountainous landlocked area in our Nothern Cordilleras and home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site the Rice Terraces), this is a “beginner’s trek” into IPAs (and an excellent showcase on what the Ifugao people are all about: earthy and richly complex).
    • Message in a Bottle – An intense black IPA with an excellent roast
    • Hop Attack – A beautiful Double IPA with an elegant bitterness that definitely begs for food
  3. Fruit Beers (note: unlike some brewers who make fruit beers by injecting fruit syrup to their beer, BCB uses the actual fruits during the secondary fermentation, hence they end up with the essence of the fruit infused in the beer instead of a crude, slap-in-the-face fruit flavored beer)
    • Lagud (Strawberry) – Because Baguio is famous for their strawberries. Think strawberry cream in beer form (yum!)
    • Ripe (Passion Fruit) – A sharp, tangy fruit beer excellent with greasy bar chow
    • Keywheat (Kiwi) – I’ve never had Kiwi beer before but I am a big fan of the fruit… So, kiwi? Check. Beer? Check. Happy.
  4. Other Beers:
    • Rolling Fog – I admit to having a predilection for German wheat beer, but the subtlety and elegance of Rolling Fog just blew me away.
    • Englishman in New York – An American Pale Ale with caramel notes seamlessly blended with herbal undertones (a favorite of a friend of mine, he kept insisting I try it… “This will change your life”, he said. It did)

Don’t take my word for it. Baguio Craft Brewery is located in the RKC Building, 120 Marcos Highway, KM 4 Baguio City.

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Saccharine sweet strawberry “wine”

After partying it up with these perfect craft beers, I highly recommend indulging in some of Baguio’s renowned strawberries in their spirit form. It’s sweet and packs a mean punch.

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Camp John Hay Coffee Plantation

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#hoarding healthy stuff after all that alcohol

The following day, it is imperative to sober up with some coffee. Baguio has a wide selection of affordable coffee… I had to take home bags of Irish Cream, Arabica, and Civet Cat coffee beans. It’s also worth noting that John Hay (the best place to get a cottage for the ultimate Baguio trip) actually grows their coffee beans. I also had to get the turmeric tea I found on the way up to Good Shepherd (after all that beer, I needed a healthy ANYTHING).

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The “Morning After” Traditional Hot Chocolate from Choco-Late de Batirol

When all is said, drunk, and done in Baguio, it is imperative to stop in for a quick brunch in Choco-Late de Batirol garden restaurant. It’s the ultimate “morning after” place. They have interesting items on their menu (tocinong kalabaw was quite adventurous), but they’re legendary for their traditional hot chocolate. It’s thick, rich, and so artisanal that the texture is still grainy, it redefines “hug in a mug”.

Whether it’s a gastronomic, alcoholic, or foodie adventure, Baguio has a lot to offer. Whatever people are after, there are many options that are a far cry from the Baguio of the 80s (with an excellent TPLEX that cut down the once 8-plus hour trek to about 3.5 on a good day). Note to self: Make another trip, stat! Cheers!