Buddha Bar Manila has been in the local bar scene for quite sometime now. I still remember visiting the place when I was just starting to work. It's one of those upscale bars that can easily intimidate and comes with a price tag.
Stepping inside was like being transported to a far off place, definitely not in that corner of Makati, facing Century Mall. The place was so huge and can comfortably house a lot of people! Spacious first floor, a second floor to boot, huge and clean rest rooms, ample bar space - not your typical elbow room bar. I loved the elegance and sophistication exuded by the place - lush furnishings, warm to dim lighting, chandeliers, a staircase and a giant Buddha located right smack the center of the place.
|Buddha Bar Manila - Cocktail Festival 2016|
To celebrate it's 20th Anniversary, Buddha Bar Manila held a two day Cocktail Festival with world renowned liquid chef, Matthias Giroud. The Mixology Wizard is in fact the Chief Bar Manager of Buddha Bar Worldwide and has been travelling the world to get inspiration, discover flavors and ingredients to make solid cocktails for Buddha Bar's clientele.
|Buddha-Bar Manila's Cocktail Festival 2016|
The celebration started on the 14th of October with Mixology Professionals and the media as the participants. The line up of events was impressive - a demo on how Matthias does his magic, food painting, cocktail painting followed by some late night treat! The real party was held the following day, 15th of October, which showcased a Mixology Competition followed by the Cocktail Festival itself where the Mixology Wizard gave everyone a glimpse on how his craft was done and had his audience sample his creations.
Now, I'm a noob when it comes to "mixology" coz a certified Tita of Manila only knows bar-tending. But then again I still said yes to the invite for experience and to try the cocktails, of course.
The 7PM call time for the event was delayed a little so we had some chance to check out the bar and get some bar chows plus drinks while waiting. We tried the following ---
The name intrigued us and I personally expected something different. But nothing was special with this. Just your regular fries, fried to crisp goodness, with Japanese chili and garlic bits.
Asian Wonton Nachos
Wonton Crisps topped with generous heaping of tasty ground beef, salsa, shreds of cabbage, cilantro, cheese and ranch sauce. Pretty good stuff.
We then tried two non-alcoholic beverages but it was sad that we weren't able to try them right away since the mixology demo started right after they were served. We ended up drinking watered down versions that were still good enough.
A fruity drink that has cranberry juice and melon syrup with some fresh mix of fruits - depending on what's in season.
Smoothie: Berry Smoothie
A blend of milk, yogurt and mixed berries sweetened with some sugar syrup.
Then, the best part begun! The Mixology Wizrd, Matthias, gathered us in front of the bar to watch him do his cocktail magic! He created three drinks for us ---
London Flower Spritz
A Buddha Bar signature cocktail, Matthias used dry jasmine flower made exclusively for Buddha Bar. A mix of sweet white wine, champagne and sugar syrup, this was topped with jasmine/gin foam and garnished with a slice of lemon and a fresh stalk of jasmine with leaves and flowers.
Such a pretty cocktail! It was light, sweet and definitely for one pretty lady.
The next one was a non-alcoholic drink. Fresh grape juice, homemade bitter soda and a splash of artisanal aged syrup - I must admit that I liked this drink! It was refreshing and sweet with a little frizz. Garnished with a piece of smoked wood, dry leaf, slices of grapes, candied pearls and edible gold dust, this drink will please the eyes!
Street White Angel
This was my favorite of the three. Lavender essential oil infused with Bacardi, mixed with cranberry, passion fruit and raspberry juice, finished off with some hibiscus/ginger syrup.
I loved the the marriage of all the juices plus the strong hibiscus and ginger flavors. Garnished with ripe mango slices and candy sprinkles, don't let the sweetness deceive you!
Right after this display of unparalleled talent, Matthias challenged the head Chef of Buddha Bar Manila to do Food Painting while engaging the audience.
|Food Painting Activity!|
She introduced some colorful "paint" which were mostly pureed, edible food. Pesto, mango, sugar beets, some mix of veggies, etc.
|"Paint" used were mashed or pureed food|
She explained that food painting is all about using your creativity to plate dishes while taking into consideration the taste and balance of the ingredients used. It was a fun activity I must say.
|Matthias Giroud, the Mixology Wizard, doing some "Cocktail Painting"|
Then, another round of cocktail making took place, this time incorporating cocktail painting. Matthias once again made three unique drinks for his audience. He used some local ingredients this time to showcase what our country can offer.
Street Art Collection by Buddha Bar
Gin infused timut pepper with lime juice, honey water, cucumber and yuzu puree topped with ginger ale - I loved the citrusy kick, the refreshing note of cucumber and the slight note of heat from the pepper! This was garnished with a thin cucumber slice and a flower. Such a pretty drink!
I loved how this drink was presented! It was the most unique of all cocktails that night and the best part? It was alcohol free! It was a mix of artisanal genever syrup, fresh calamansi, rose flower water, cranberry juice and tonic water.
With the use of elderflower syrup, this gin based drink gave a nice and smooth floral finish. Mixed with lime juice, calamansi liqueur and topped with homemade grapefruit huacatay (native to South Africa) soda, this drink was garnished with a thin slice of grapefruit and some torched brown sugar.
Right after all the activities and demo, we got to enjoy a serving of steak with rice. The steak was so tender, juicy and well seasoned.
Went well with the pesto sauce that it was slightly garnished with.
They also had us enjoy some slices of tuna and salmon sashimi which were all good!
It was definitely an awesome night and great experience! For those who are into cocktails, Buddha Bar Manila is definitely a place to try. Aside from their cocktails, their food is also note worthy. Just make sure to prepare some cash coz the prices are a bit steep.
4 out of 5 Stars for Buddha Bar Manila!
--- Buddha Bar Manila: Picar Place, Kalayaan Avenue, Poblacion, Makati City