Batala Bar has mastered the Momol—and other happy hour staples
We’re talking local mojitos, beers, and some good bambanog
Is there any way to make happy hour even happier? Getting drinks at a cheaper price is always a good thing, but Batala Bar’s found a way to make it even better.
“Everything here is local. The concept of this place is to really highlight Filipino products and make sure we do them well, and give them the justice that they’re due,” says Batala Bar owner Bryan McClelland. The Bambike founder established this new bar as part of the Philippine Artisan Trade, a lifestyle gallery that offers a platform for Filipino artisans and crafts to be displayed and showcased to more people. “People might come to check stuff out, and then they’ll stay for the drinks,” McClelland says.
Not only do they make the products of quality Filipino craftsmanship more accessible, they also put the spotlight on local spirits and ingredients through their selection of cocktails and craft beers.
For something classic, go for the Momol—“Mojito mojito lang,” McClelland explains, when asked what the cheeky cocktail name stood for. Made with fresh mint (picked from their hydroponic system), fresh calamansi, white rum, and soda water, Batala’s mojito is cleaner, leaving you with no feelings of “what is this drink even supposed to be?”, just letting you enjoy the drink, with its eco-friendly bamboo leaf stirrer, too.
You can also take it to the next level, if you know what I mean: The Momox (Mojito mojito extreme) has a double portion of everything, including the mint, so the flavor and the liquor do not overwhelm.
A more citrusy drink, which is sure to bring to mind the mid-afternoons of summer, is the aptly named Flores de Mayo, which has gin, pineapple juice, calamansi juice, and a shot of bambanog. You can also order a shot of bambanog—bamboo-infused lambanog—on its own.
You can also just sit and unwind with a cold beer, as Batala Bar has a dozen options available. They don’t get the similar brews from different breweries, as they aim to have a clear variety. “We want our taps to have a spectrum, so we have different brands,” McClelland says. He also aims to promote more local beers, as the creativity in them run deeper than just the brews, but in the entire branding as well. “Filipinos are very creative, they have different animals and characters created to tell the brand identity (on the beer bottles and other packaging). And there’s so many good beers.”
Pair the craft beers or cocktails with some bar chow. Batala Bar may switch up the menu every so often, so be sure to catch the gazpacho while it’s there. A hefty bowl of cold tomato soup, served with crunchy toasted bread on the side—it’s something so surprisingly addicting, you might want to ask for more bread. (McClelland shares that it’s his mother’s own recipe.)
The quesadillas, stuffed with Vigan longganisa, do not disappoint either. A good idea: opt not to dip it in the sauce and instead drizzle some (insanely chemical) hot sauce from Garapal. An even better idea: Down it with some ice cold local beer like Engkanto’s lager.
For a space meant to push a socially relevant cause, it sure knows how to do it in a way that’s easy to appreciate and enjoy.
They use fresh and local ingredients for their cocktails. Try the Flores de Mayo, which has a mix of gin, bambanog, and pineapple and calamansi juice, or the Momox, a double strength mojito with also twice as much mint.
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