MANILA -- Since opening in 2016, Caravan Black has become a favorite hangout spot in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Taguig for its good coffee and delicious eats.
The homegrown cafe prides itself in creating everything from scratch, from the classic coffee drinks to specialty beverages like the Lavender Latte, down to its grain bowls, sandwiches, noodles, and snacks.
And while the pandemic posed unprecedented challenges, Caravan Black was able to find new opportunities to grow. By making its entire menu available for delivery and serving handcrafted drinks in bottles, it was able to go beyond its usual market in BGC.
By the time lockdowns were lifted, customers from as far as Alabang and Quezon City have been checking out the cafe to see firsthand where their food and drinks are coming from.
"The pandemic was bad but it got us out there... I think we are doing better now than pre-pandemic," Caravan Black co-owner Miguel Rodriguez told ABS-CBN News.
"I'm kind of not afraid of things anymore... when an issue comes up, [we'll just remember how] we handled the pandemic. So we can [definitely] handle this," he added.
Caravan Black looks to continue this momentum with the launch of its cocktail and bar bites menu, a result of partnerships with mixologist Clayton Paul and chef Him Uy de Baron.
The new offerings are made for easy drinking -- more specifically pregame, or the process of drinking alcohol before an event or social function.
One of the more interesting options here -- and Rodriguez's recommendation -- is the Caravan Sour (Jim Beam bourbon, lemon, kimchi, egg white, angostura bitters), but those who want something more familiar can go for the Strawberry Spritz (strawberry-infused Aperol, Manille, Larios gin, soda water) or Garden Sangria (Tanqueray Sevilla, Cointreau, orange, tangerine syrup, prosecco).
Mocktails are also available in Caravan Colada (pineapple, coconut syrup, lemon, cold brew, cinnamon syrup) and ET (espresso, tonic water).
"You can have a good buzz but you won't get trashed," said Rodriguez. "So if someone's reading or studying, or meeting with a friend or special someone, we wanted to keep that [cafe] vibe."
The bar bites are consistent with Caravan Black's Asian-inspired food menu. Diners can choose from three types of buns in Bo Ssam (pork shoulder, pickled cucumber, coleslaw), Orange Chicken (orange chicken, coleslaw, herbs), and Tofu Mushroom (Bulgogi tofu, pickled mushroom, mayo).
Other options include the Naked Dumpling (eggplant, ground pork, soy sesame glaze), Salmon Skewers, Thai-glazed Chicken Wings, and Dandan Lasagna (pork, tantanmen sauce, soy bechamel).
"The Orange Chicken has been around for a year, it comes in a bowl," said Rodriguez. "We told Chef Him that we think it's also going to do well as a bun, so he tried to marry the two."
From being a mostly white space when it first opened, Caravan Black now has a rich green palette. Rodriguez said last year's renovation complements the cafe's new direction as a pregame spot, with lights dimmed at 5 p.m. for a more "cocktail vibe."
"We renovated the place with this (cocktail vibe) in mind, so there's wood, the green stain, and the lights. We also changed the bar," he said. "Hopefully, we can do this transition."
Caravan Black is located at 7 Neo, 4th Avenue, BGC.