Words by Camille Ong
Photos by Jeff Pascual
California: home to Hollywood, Universal Studios, Santa Monica Pier, and Disneyland. I could go on with this list of attractions but they’re not the only places California is made of. Outside of these tourist spots are miles of desert and acres upon acres of farmland. California is, after all, one of the leading agricultural producers in the U.S.
It’s this part of California that you can find Ventura Spirits. Harvesting during the Fall and Summer season, flowers among mountain trails, and the heat of the desert are just a few images and feelings that come to mind when you take a sip of their liquor.
Last August 8, I got the chance to attend the Ventura Spirits Masterclass at ABV Cocktail and Absinthe Bar along Jupiter Street in Makati. Thanks to VASST, a Boutique Liquor Company, I was able to learn about these three spirits.
Before this, I never really appreciated alcohol. I drank at the occasional social gathering but I did it mostly for the effect it had on me rather than the taste itself. At ABV, I was able to pause and appreciate what they offered me instead of drinking just for the heck of it.
Vodka usually has an overpowering ethanol smell, but Haymaker’s has a distinct earthy scent probably due to the fruits used in its creation; apples and potatoes harvested during the Fall and Summer respectively. I usually recoil at vodka but Haymaker’s clean but earthy aftertaste made me enjoy sipping it!
This was my favorite out of the three. A simplified description would be: it smelled and tasted like flowers. It’s made with a blend of nine botanicals, hence the strong herbaceous notes. I couldn’t get enough of it because it reminded me of strolling through a garden. If you guys wanna know what an alcoholic garden would taste like, this Gin has got your back.
The Prickly Pear Spirit is a spirit tradition that comes from California. The smell reminded me of white wine and tequila so I was wary of it at first. While the taste does remind me a bit of tequila, it gave off a heat at the back of my throat that was reminiscent of a desert. There was a hint of sweetness to the spicy finish, which I liked!
Aside from them tasting good, the Opuntia and Wilder are organic while Haymaker’s is gluten-free, making them a healthier alternative.
After they let us try them individually, they served cocktails made with Ventura Spirits. The Prickly in Pink made with the Opuntia was a favorite of mine. It was sour and refreshing; a nice summery drink.
Prickly in Pink. You can check out more of their cocktails here! http://venturaspirits.com/cocktails/
Aside from this, they also served Mules and Martinis. I loved both of them and I was happy to finally try a Martini after seeing it in the movies for so long. As James Bond said, “Shaken, not stirred.”
The alcohol tasting was just a preview of what’s to come so keep your eyes peeled for Ventura Spirits!
ABV Cocktail and Absinthe Bar
22 Jupiter, Bel-Air, Makati City
VASST Exchange International
Metrowalk Commercial Complex, Ortigas, Pasig City