In the house in Cavite, where the family lived before moving back to Manila, was a small bar where I indulged in all sorts of drinks. Gin was one of my favorites.
Curiously, in the olden days, gin was medicine. Books published in the 13th and 16th centuries had mentioned its early name, jenever from the plant juniper — its main ingredient — which monks and chemists used as a cure from coughs, colds, pains, strains, ruptures and cramps.
Later the consumption of gin in social gatherings was so widespread in Europe, it became the national alcoholic drink of England.
In the Philippines, gin was first sold commercially in 1834 as Ginebra San Miguel. Interesting to learn that, at present, the brand GSMI (Ginebra San Miguel Inc.), maker of Bilog (named after its round-shaped 250 ml bottle), and Cuatro Cantos (the bigger four-sided 750 ml bottle), along with their younger variants, GSM Blue and GSM Premium, annually sells 40 million cases — making it “the largest selling gin in the world,” group product manager Jamby Caldo and GSM Blue manager Giselle Villanueva told ANCX at a recent media event held at Westin Manila to celebrate World Gin Day (WGD) last June 8.
But since gin is enjoyed any time of the year, promoting WGD has been extended till December.
“Gin Is In,” proclaimed the backdrop at the event, because it’s “Cool, Clear, and Versatile.” The reason it’s cool, explained host Paolo Abrera, is its refreshing taste from juniper and other botanicals; clear is the result of the distillation process which strips away any dominant color; and versatile since gin may be imbibed neat, or as a cocktail such as the classic gin and tonic.
Three celebrities were tapped to promote Ginebra’s three attributes. Actor Zanjoe Marudo said that, aside from his being a true regular drinker of GSM Cuatro Cantos, he’s a calm person by nature.
Syrian-born Filipino vlogger Basel Manadil, whose drink of choice is GSM Premium Gin, said that, like his viral posts, “Always be clear with your intentions no matter where you go. Because everything you do can have an impact on others.”
Comedian Herlene “Hipon Girl” Budol, who likes her GSM mixed as cocktails, advised: “In life, dapat versatile ka. If you are good at one thing, you can also be good at anything! Stay true while learning many things.”
A highlight of the event was the presence of three mixologists — Jhyrus Denver A. Domingo, Angela Felarca, and JP Peñaflor — who are scholar-graduates of the Ginebra San Miguel Bar Academy, a partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) which trains Filipinos in bartending, flairtending, and basic entrepreneurship.
The GSM Bar Academy has proudly achieved 100-percent employment for all its graduates in 2022.
Domingo, Felarca, and Peñaflor, currently employed in top bars in Metro Manila, showcased their mixology skills in a friendly competition, with DJ Patty Tiu spinning dance tunes.