Sunday, June 28, 2015

Salo sa Taal: The Liquid Chef at Villa Tortuga

Authentic Filipino flavors at an ancestral home, paired with Filipino-themed cocktails to complete the experience. And you're in for a wild ride back in time care of Liquid Chef Kalel Demetrio...


Master mixologist and Liquid Chef Kalel Demtetrio showcased his own line of signature handcrafted cocktails to pair with Chef Yana Gilbuena's special Filipino-inspired menu for Salo sa Taal at Villa Tortuga (more on that special lunch here at http://dude4food.blogspot.com/2015/06/salo-sa-taal.html). The uniquely Filipino cocktails added that perfect final touch to a memorable dining experience at Villa Tortuga.

As the elegant dining area at Villa Tortuga is set-up for the special lunch by Chef Yana Gilbuena (L), Destileria Limtuaco's Aaron Limpe and Kalel Demetrio prepare their homemade bitters and other unique blends for the line of special cocktails (R)...


Kalel Demetrio prepares his own blend of unique bitters, infused with local herbs, fresh fruits, coffee, and even flowers, adding that distinct layer of flavor to his line of cocktails. The use of local and regional ingredients, including base spirits, add to the distinct local vibe at Villa Tortuga. And there's nothing quite like a few cocktails to slowly take you back in time...


To complete the impression of going back in time, Kalel Demetrio uses old pharmaceutical style apothecary bottles with corks for his presentation of exclusive cocktails created for Salo sa Taal.


Premium local spirits and liqueurs from the country's oldest distillery, Destileria Limtuaco, fuels up Kalel Demetrio's cocktails, with its signature line of Filipino spirits, including lambanog and basi.


With its classic vintage-style bottles, Destileria Limtuaco's impressive line of local spirits and liqueurs provide a wide range of flavors for Kalel Demetrio's creative cocktails.


I was introduced to Kalel Demetrio's uniquely Filipino-inspired cocktails at Chefs Panky Lopez and Yana Gilbuena's special Ilonggo dinner, dubbed Salo@Ponti (more on that dinner here at http://dude4food.blogspot.com/2015/06/salo-ponti-inasal-in-jar-batchoy.html), and was immediately impressed by his use of local ingredients and the range of cocktails. And you just know Kalel Demetrio has even more surprises with his concoctions for the special lunch at Villa Tortuga.

Upon our arrival at the elegantly restored ancestral home at Villa Tortuga, we were served a refreshing glass of Villa Tortuga Grass Tea,  a sweet tea infused with lemongrass prepared by Kalel Demetrio. And things are definitely looking good...

As more guests arrived at Villa Tortuga, Kalel Demetrio prepared his handcrafted artisan cocktails with Destileria Limtuaco's line of premium local spirits and liqueurs and his own blend of homemade bitters... 

...and like a master on stage, the Liquid Chef goes about his performance with flair and precision, crafting each component of the cocktail in quick succession. More shots and a  few drops of bitters and the blend is poured on a shaker...


Kalel Demetrio then served his first cocktail, the General Malvar, a proud son of Batangas and one of the fiercest commanders of the revolution, a soothing yet fiery blend of chili-infused San Juan Premium Lambanog with turmeric and honey, finished with citrus spiced bitters. The tart and refreshing blend is smooth and easy, with just a hint of heat from the chili that lingers long after the first sip.


The nest round of cocktails were then served, with the sweet, floral and fragrant Flora Republica, made with Destileria Limtuaco's San Juan Premium Lambanog as the base spirit, blended tapuy, Manille Calamansi Liqueur, toasted lemongrass, cucumber, lime, with sampaguita infusion and bagsik bitters quattro with hibiscus grape fruit. The complex flavors add layers of distinct notes, weaving a tapestry of rich flavors in every sip.


Kalel Demetrio then draws inspiration from the matriarch of the Filipino Revolution, the Aling Eriang, named after Marella Gliceria Villavicencio, a proud Taal native. A refreshing concoction made with watermelon and guava with mint, lime, Manille Calamansi Liqueur, guava-infused San Juan Premium Lambanog, with honey and bagsik bitters, the brightly colored cocktail releases a burst of flavor with each sip. Sweet, tart, and sour, the cocktail is smooth and easy, as you go for another sip.


Kalel Demetrio's playful inventiveness continues with the next round of cokctails. The inventive Crisisalio Y Damaso, with three shooters inspired by characters from Rizal's novel, named Crispin, Sisa, and Basilio. And the fun starts when you mix all three shooters...


...start with the effervescent Crispin infused with two types of bitters, followed by Sisa with its potent blend of San Juan Premium Lambanog, Manille Calamansi Liqueur, and bagsik bitters dos, and finally, the Basilio, with its blend of Maharlika Kombucha Shrub, mango, aratilis, guyabano, and chili shrub. Mix it all up and prepare for even more rich flavors. The blend of local fruits make it comfortingly familiar, yet new and refreshingly different.


I cap my round of cocktails with Kalel Demetrio's homage to Andres Bonifacio, the Old Supremo, with Very Old Captain Rhum, muscovado and two types of bagsik bittters. Almost like a classic Old-Fashioned with a uniquely Filipino twist, the Old Supremo is a personal favorite. The subtle sweetness is perfectly tempered by the sharp and smoky notes of the rum for a soothing cocktail.

Uniquely Filipino flavors, inventive cocktails, and great company. And a great way to celebrate Jose Rizal's birthday. Cheers!

Villa Tortuga is located at Calle Marcela M. Agoncillo, Taal, Batangas, or call +63927-975-1683 for inquiries.

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