What Is A Bar Takeover? Bali’s Top Mixologist Comes To BGC To Play At Gallery By Chele
Balinese flair and Filipino ingenuity come together in these cross-cultural cocktails that experiment with local spirits, herbs, spices, and other ingredients
Right about the time your Old Fashioned hits the table, and the first bites paired off with it follow, you realize you’d better pay attention. At the bar are expert bartenders Raka, mixologist of Locavore’s The Night Rooster in Bali, and Mark from Gallery by Chele (here in BGC), getting into the hum and swing of things for what promises to be an exciting evening. You catch a whiff of Raka lighting the end of a cinnamon stick, then placing it delicately into a cocktail glass where Mark has shaken and strained a mix of Don Papa rum and cacao-infused Campari
Raka of The Night Rooster in Bali
We were at Gallery by Chele for this one-night-only bar takeover called Go Lokal. Chef Chele Gonzalez and his partners have had this space for close to seven years. Since its former identity as Vask Tapas and Gallery Vask, they have since reconceived the space to work on many levels.
With innovative special events such as bar takeovers from award-winning mixologists, special monthly Chef’s Table dinners featuring seasonal ingredients, and collaborative dinners with world-class chefs from all over the globe, there is always something to discover in this space. Whether you opt for a tasting menu with cocktail pairings or order a la carte, one is likely to not be disappointed.
At the recently held “Bali-meets-BGC” Go Lokal, cool concoctions were paired off with the modern cuisine at Gallery by Chele, which is something you’d expect from a restaurant and concept that has fully matured into what it is today—delightful, experiential dining that guests, both local and expats, can enjoy. “We evolved the menu and the dishes we created for a la carte, they are familiar and yummy, something that is fine dining and comforting at the same time—a blend between both,” shares Gonzalez.
For this collaboration, Raka and Mark concocted a special bar menu around Don Papa rum and seasonal, local ingredients. The five drinks were best enjoyed together with the restaurant’s tasting menu options, five courses for a glimpse into the work they do, and nine courses for a full experience.
First up, we encountered a drink named Rum - Most There, a perfect way to start the evening’s cocktail pairing affair. Raka had adapted a popular drink from The Night Rooster that uses local honey, tamarillo, and cinnamon. In this drink, fitting it to what is available locally, he blended Don Papa rum with the smoky sweetness of bourbon to create a refreshing and interesting blend of flavors reminiscent of a Sunday brunch staple, the Bloody Mary. The drink was paired with the tasting menu’s bites.
Next, Mark served up Orange & Basil, a drink that combines vodka, cinnamon, and lemon with orange shrub, offering a uniquely different take on a popular flavor combination. The cocktail was paired with a sublime Ube Chawan Mushi, a dish perfected by Gallery by Chele that features custard, ube, seaweed, and pansit-pansitan.
Orange & Basil with Ube Chawan Mushi | Justin Convento
Afterwards, Raka worked his magic in the next cocktail, Hope She Likes It, which has pineapple honey, rosemary, angostura, lemon juice, Cointreau, and egg white. This is another popular cocktail he adapted from The Night Rooster, the original using housemade pineapple and rosemary honey, 1800 Tequila, and Punt e Mes, an Italian vermouth. The drink was creamy and sour, with a light bitter aftertaste, and was paired off with Reap, which features herbs, blue crab, and mango with a frozen sorbet of pear, apple, and avocado. The dish was reminiscent of a tropical mango salad and was a refreshing pairing to prepare us for the main courses.
Hope She Likes It | Justin Convento
During the dessert courses, Mark and Raka surprised us with two additional drinks. The first was aptly named Cake, a simple combination of hazelnut liquor served with fresh lemon and sugar. A digestif, it helped us wind down and process all the different flavors that we had enjoyed during the entire tasting menu.
Cake | Justin Convento
The second drink, yet to be named, is another collaboration between the two master mixologists and featured sweet vermouth and dark chocolate.
The unnamed collaborative cocktail | Justin Convento
With this latest collaboration, the maturity truly shows in Gallery by Chele, where the chef has reinvented fine dining in a way that Filipinos will feel comfortable with. “It was a long time understanding who we are and where we are, and how we can connect with cultures,” admits Gonzalez. “We are able to connect and have a place for those people who want to have a good time, good cocktails, good wine, and good food, all elevated and a little more sophisticated.” Indeed there is something to experience for everyone at Gallery by Chele. One must simply turn the page to the restaurant’s new chapter and be ready for an adventure.
Gallery by Chele, 5/F Clipp Center, 11th Avenue corner 39th Street, Bonifacio Global City, (0917) 546-1673, gallerybychele.com