Oysters as a food establishment’s main attraction is becoming more popular in the city, as evidenced by the latest addition to Poblacion’s Wantusawa, the now three-outlet-strong 2nd Street Oysters, and Oista Oyster Bar in San Juan. Welcome Salt and Ice at Uptown Parade in BGC. It’s a pretty straightforward bar—not fancy, not cooler-than-thou, thank heavens—that boasts plump and fresh oysters from Aklan and an array of sweet and refreshing cocktails.
If there’s any gimmick at all, it’s in the crafty drinks whipped up by Abigail Quilal-lan, a talented bartender who used to work at the award-winning ABV in Makati’s Jupiter Street. There’s her Aurora, a tequila-based cocktail with grapefruit lime, blue pea tea, and a cloud of cotton candy on top—which melts then makes your drink purple. There’s She’s A Bliss (hibiscus, apple lemon and whisky) which arrives in a tall Margarita glass topped with a bubble dome that turns into smoke the minute it feels your breath.
And then there’s that drink with smoke trapped inside a see-thru dome—it seems every cocktail bar has one—called Eternal Rose (it has gin and passion fruit) which, if you haven’t guessed, is inspired by a fairy tale about a certain beauty and the beast she tames.
Putting together oysters with cocktails is the concept of Fil-Chi-Australian businessman John Michael Hilton, who famously brought Australia’s favorite yogurt drink Koomi to the Philippines. He says highlighting the use of Aklan oysters in his bar is him just being true to his resolve of patronizing local produce, while the inventive cocktails are his response to a new generation of drinkers who have become “more discerning and appreciative of the artistry and hard work” that goes into a drink.
What do we recommend: For the cocktails, the 36th Street (named after the bar’s street address) is the embodiment of “yummy” in a rum drink—it has hints of mango, macadamia, milk, and lemon and it’s the first cocktail on the drinks list. And then there’s the “secret menu” item called Mike’s Drink—named after the owner because it’s his favorite—composed of rum, Aperol, pineapple and macadamia. It’s like a sophisticated, layered Royal Tru Orange which is, take our word for it, a very delicious thing.
For the food, no doubt about it: the Indonesian-style Chicken Satay Skewers—juicy and bursting with flavor, you may not need the accompanying peanut sauce. And of course, have the oysters six ways if you wish (baked with spinach and malunggay, tempura-style, with bacon and Worcestershire sauce, and so on) but nothing beats enjoying them fresh. Like the best drink in the house—Mike’s Drink—the fresh variety is curiously not on the menu, but Mike said just ask for it, they’ll be happy to serve it.
[Salt and Ice is located at the Ground Floor of Uptown Parade in Uptown BGC. It is open from 4PM to 1AM from Sunday to Wednesday, and 4PM to 3AM Thursdays to Saturdays. It also opened a second outlet recently at Building 7, Molito Commercial Complex, Alabang.]
Check out @saltandiceph on Instagram for the full menu.