Bottoms Up! More Traditional Filipino Beverages to Spice Up Your Life

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Filipinos drink to socialize. It’s practically a staple in celebrations and even simple get-togethers work best when there’s some spirits to go around. Filipinos drink to celebrate, nurse a broken heart, or just to past the time, really.

Our forefathers have been concocting booze from locally sourced materials since before the colonial era. When Magellan disembarked in the country, the people provided them items like fish and coconuts, according to historical records. This includes homegrown wines like tuba, a coconut-based concoction. For millennia, drinking has been a part of human civilization, culminating in the establishment of sophisticated bars, pubs, and restaurants. Still, a good old get-together is still the greatest way to enjoy a few drinks.

We’ll take a look at some of the top local wines and liquors in this article. Who knows? Maybe your next inuman could use some more spice!

  • BASI
BASI | Alisto!San Ildefonso!
Photo from Alisto! San Ildefonso

Basi is a fermented drink prepared from sugarcane that is processed in clay jars called Burnay in the Ilocos region. It is enjoyed anywhere from the plains of the Ilocos region to the steep highlands of the Kalinga region. Ilocano people have been drinking basi in San Ildefonso, which is located in the northern part of the island of Luzon, even before the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. In layman’s words, the sugarcane is distilled in the jars before being allowed to ferment with a native yeast known as “bubod,” which is manufactured from water, pulverized sticky rice, and wild ginger roots, a process that results in the production of the wine. 

Basi is typically divided into two categories: “basing lalaki” and “basing babae.” The term “basing lalaki” refers to the tye that has a higher alcohol level, making it much more robust and powerful, with a flavor that is considerably dry. On the other hand, “basing babae” has a substantially lower concentration of alcohol and a significantly higher level of sweetness.

Lambanog | Local Spirit From Province of Quezon, Philippines | TasteAtlas
Photo from TasteAtlas

If the Japanese have sake, then the Philippines have lambanog. Lambanog is a liquor made from coconuts that is often consumed in Northern Luzon. It is considered to be one of the most popular traditional spirits in the Philippines. The country is consistently ranked among the top five countries in the world in terms of coconut production. As a matter of fact, coconut trees take up over a third of the total acreage of cropland in the nation. 

Lambanog was first developed by islanders during the pre-colonial period, and farmers who worked on coconut plantations passed down through generations their documented recipes. In order to produce lambanog, the locals first gather the sap from the unopened coconut bloom, then ferment and distill it. Because of its high alcohol concentration and transparent to ghostly white hue, it is often referred to as “coconut vodka.” It is very strong, with an average alcohol concentration of 80 to 90 proof (40 to 45 percent abv) after one distillation, which has the potential to increase to 166 proof (83 percent abv) with a subsequent distillation.

Small-scale companies that employ between four and twenty-five people account for the vast majority of lambanóg manufacturers. The province of Quezon is the most important producer of lambanog in the Philippines. It is home to the Mallari Distillery, the Buncayo Distillery, and the Capistrano Distillery, which are the three major lambanog distilleries in the nation. Mango, blueberry, and cinnamon flavors of lambanóg have lately hit the market in an attempt to appeal to a wider demographic.

Find out more about Lambanog and its production: 

  • TUBA
Tuba, The Coconut Wine Of The Philippines | Food'n Road
Photo from Food’n Road

Tuba, which is similar to lambanog but is prepared by combining the barks of a mangrove tree with the coconut sap, which produces a reddish tint, is an alcohol manufactured prominently in the Visayan islands. Since before the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, the Filipino people have been drinking tuba. In addition to its use in animist religious rites, which were presided over by babaylan shamans, they were also commonly ingested for the sake of enjoyment. Early Spanish settlers in the Philippines stated that a large amount of tuba and other alcoholic drinks were consumed on a daily basis. When making coconut wine, the bark of mangrove trees, known locally as tungog or barok, is crushed and pulverized before being combined with the wine to function as a fermentation agent. As is the case with wine, tuba develops a more complex flavor as it matures. 

A better-quality tuba is known as bahalina and has a fruitier and sweeter flavor than its base version. Tubâ may also be made into kinuti by adding raw egg yolks, chocolate, and milk to it. Tubâ produced from the sap of the kaong palm is known as tuhak in Mindanao. Similar to tubâ, it is harvested and fermented. But sometimes, extracts from the barks from a lamud tree are added to help the sap ferment and keep it from going sour. Lastly, tubâ produced from fishtail palm by Manobo, Mandaya, and Mamanwa natives is called tunggang. As a result of its foul aroma and flavor, it is a lot less popular.


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Photo from The Good Store PH

The Philippine fruit known as bignay (sometimes spelled bugnay) has a tart flavor that is comparable to that of cranberries. The bignay is a kind of wild berry that is characterized by its diminutive size and round shape. It develops a flavor that is somewhere between sour and sweet when it is fully ripe. In the tropical nation, this fruit does not actually enjoy a significant level of popularity. However, similar to its berry siblings, bignay has the capacity to be transformed into a fruit wine that is both refreshing and delightful. Because of the rich red color of the wine that it creates, many people are likely to think that it is just a regular red wine made from grapes. The Bignay wine has a touch of sweetness, but the aroma of the fruit it contains is extremely pronounced. As you gulp it down, a powerful alcoholic flavor emerges along with undertones of blackberry-like flavor.

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Photo by Shubert Cienca on Wikipedia

Banaue and the Mountain Province are home to the fermented rice wine known as tapuy or tapuey, which has a long history of usage for special occasions. Traditionally, it is offered during weddings, events commemorating the harvesting of rice, parties, and cultural festivals. It is produced using either just glutinous rice or a mixture of glutinous and regular rice, onuad roots, ginger extract, and an organic powdered fermenting agent known as bubod. As is the case with a lot of different varieties of rice wine, the technique and ingredients that each maker use to create tapuy determine its distinctive qualities. A general type of t apuy, on the other hand, is often a wine that is transparent and mildly sweet. It has a robust alcoholic flavor, and it typically has an aftertaste that lingers.

Weighing and washing chosen rice is the first step in the process of creating tapuy for commercial use. After that, the rice is boiled, allowed to cool, and then it is seeded with a natural starting culture that is referred to as bubod in the region. The next step is a process referred to as organic pre-fermentation, which is followed by natural fermentation. After the fermentation process is finished, the young wine can be collected and then subjected to pasteurization. After the rice wine has been pasteurized, it will then be aged, filtered, and refined before to being bottled. The bottled rice wine is then subjected to an additional round of pasteurization before being sealed.

Learn more about Tapuy here: 


Photo from: Blogspot

Similar to lambanog and tuba, bahalina also comes from coconuts, particularly coconut saps and tree barks. In fact, people often confuse this traditional drink with tuba because of how it looks; people, particularly those who are not familiar with this drink, would also conflate this drink to be vinegar because of how it smells. However, bahalina is actually much better than tuba in terms of its taste and general quality. 

Believed to have originated from the rich and heaven-like island of Leyte, which is located in Visayas, bahalina is a tasty beverage that is the perfect balance of sweetness and fruitiness, and is deemed to be one of the most widely-known and loved local beverages in some regions located within the provinces of Bohol and Samar. Its remarkable taste is the result of a month-long (or more) process of naturally distilling its base form: tuba. 

The distillation is done through a strenuous and consistent process of straining and cleaning a high quality coconut wine. Once it is done, the now purified tuba or bahalina is poured inside squeaky clean glass bottles, covered with airtight caps or lids, and then kept in cool places where there is no direct sunlight. If this process of storing the beverage is not done properly, the bahalina will be pestered with molds and will eventually turn sour–as sour as vinegar. 

Learn more about Bahalina here:


Photo from: Cook Magazine

Although this next one does not sound like the traditional liquors we are all familiar with, it still deserves a spot on this list because it is purely Filipino made! Manille Liqueur de Calamansi is considered to be the Filipino version of the Italian drink called limoncello or lemon liqueur. It is a cocktail drink naturally made possible by the amicable fusion of vodka as well as the refreshing calamansi fruit, which is produced and harvested all the way from the rich mountains of Mindoro.

At first glance, this beverage’s pale-ish yellow color could easily convince anyone that it is just the Philippines’ classic calamansi juice, but when the smell hits them, they will be in for a surprise. You see, the smell that emanates from this drink is a satisfying fragrance of a strong vodka overpowered by the sweet and zesty scent of calamansi. Given that Manille has a strong and refreshing characteristic, it should come as no surprise that this drink is mainly consumed in between or after meals to give one’s palate a much needed cleanse; but of course, this can also function as your typical beverage that you could drink either chilled or with ice, if you are just in need of something to make you feel refreshed. What’s more, you can as well utilize Manille as an ingredient to add to your dishes if you would fancy to cook something with extra sweetness, zestiness, and savoriness. 

Learn more about Manille Liqueur de Calamansi here:


Curious as to why this is a bonus? Read on and discover it yourself. 


This unique alcoholic beverage dates back to the time when the Philippines was still a thriving country that is free from colonizers and slavery. Intus was one of the “OG” Filipino drinks originating from the islands of Visayas and Mindanao, and its name is derived from the old Visayan term “itus,” which translates to “to reduce.” 

It is described as a fermented alcoholic drink made from boiled sugarcane juice melded with a bark from a certain tree called “Kabarawan.”  Unfortunately, this drink almost immediately ceased to exist when the Spanish colonizers started to dominate the country.

In the Philippines, drinking is a big element of the culture. It’s an excellent way to meet new people and have a good time. However, individuals should constantly keep in mind the “drink moderately” motto.

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