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Is Rum The New Drink Of The Moment? By The Looks Of It, It’s About Time

When rum became a trend in Manila, the first thought I had was, it’s about time. After all, rum conjures up thoughts of lounging about on a gorgeous tropical beach, drink in hand. 

Picturesque tropical islands are something the Philippines has in abundance, and it’s no accident that this geographical locale is often associated with rum. After all, rum is made out of molasses which comes from sugarcane, something that thrives in the tropics, including the Philippines. 


Don Papa Rum is produced in the Philippines and exported worldwide


This may be one reason why us Filipinos have only recently started appreciating rum. We produce our own, and huge local brands make them in large quantities, so we constantly see them on shelves. In other words, we may have been taking rum for granted all this time. 

Rum has had a presence on our soil for years, apparently since the mid-1700s, as Jac” Laudicoshares. He has become a rum advocate, exploring this fascinating spirit way beyond the boundaries of the extra sugary, hangover-inducing Rum Coke cocktails of our college years. Together with John Go—the only man in alcohol events who I’d never question and proceed to drink whatever he hands me, whether or not it comes from a mysterious, nondescript, seemingly dodgy bottle—they recently founded the Manila Rum Club (MNLRC) based on their extensive research on all things rum.

Presently, rum is being produced in various countries, each with its own distinctive style, which makes it highly unlikely that anyone, seasoned drinker or otherwise, won’t find a rum they like. People keen to find their preferred rum could do so in one of MNLRC’s monthly rum flight events that happen in Mandalay Whisky and Cigar Bar, a cozy speakeasy hidden inside Belle & Dragon in Legaspi Village, Makati. 

The last MNLRC event held in April featured a rum flight that included distinctive Spanish, French, Jamaican, and English style rums. During the event, I ended up falling in love with the Rum Fire Velvet for its supple velvety notes that made me think of theater curtains and ballerinas getting ready for a recital. 


A flight of rums provided by the Manila Rum Club


Rum-Bar Gold was also a gem, because the heady banana notes tempted me to sniff the spirit for the rest of the night. There was also a selection of premium rums to sample by the dram, including the award-winning Belle & Dragon, the deliciously subtle Trois Rivières 2001 from Martinique, and the supremely limited, very dark Rum Nation Demerara 1900 23-year-old rum. 

I ended up, upon the recommendation of a friend, with the HV Hampden LROK, which packed a mean, but wonderfully well-balanced punch of tropical fruits and earthy characteristics.


Rare rums from the Caribbean


Of course, Mandalay is famous for having some of the best bartenders in Metro Manila, which is why it’s only fitting to also try some of their rum cocktails. 


Preparing the Autopilot cocktail with a French style aged rum


If you’re looking to order a rum cocktail beyond the obvious Rum Coke, here are two of my recommendations from Mandalay:



This deliciously refreshing rum-based citrus flavored cocktail is mixed with an unaged rum from Martinique. As part of France, this Caribbean island adheres to the appellationsystem, which follows exacting standards in making agricultural products such as rum. Generally, French-style rums possess a fragrant, subtle rum style. 



45ml French-style unaged rum

15ml honey syrup

15ml lemon juice

15ml sweet Vermouth


Put all the ingredients together in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Double strain into a cocktail glass. To garnish, flambée an orange peel onto the cocktail. 



Mandalay concocted this special rum cocktail just for Metro.Style. I call this the deliciously creamy twin brother (or sister) of the Perennial, which makes use of aged rum from Martinique. It lends lovely vanilla, caramel, and spice characters to the cocktail. 



45ml French-style aged rum

7.5ml Frangelico

7.5ml dark Crème de Cacao 

15ml simple syrup

22.5ml cream


Put all the ingredients together in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Double strain into a cocktail glass. To garnish, grate Belgian chocolate on top.


Mandalay Whisky and Cigar Bar, OPL Building Annex, 100 Don Carlos Palanca Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City, (02) 625-8828


For the next MNLRC session, follow @Jake_rummy on Instagram 

Gail Sotelo has a WSET Level 3 Award in Wines and Spirits. She is a wine consultant, blogger, and lecturer. She owns the drink blog which aims to make wine and other drinks accessible to everybody, and holds classes at Enderun Colleges.


Photos by Paul del Rosario