“You serve what? Apple cider vinegar?!”
This is the first reaction that Nick and Gladys get whenever people find out they operate a cider bar. We’re a non-cider drinking country, after all, which is ironic because Filipinos do consume drinks ~like cider~. We mean: wine coolers, flavored beers, flavored vodka belong to a similar, although in my opinion less classy, niche.
Tucked a wee bit away from the Aguirre Avenue food explosion in BF Homes is a little bar along El Grande called Spiffy’s Grove.
On the get go, Spiffy’s ticks all the boxes of a typical hole in the wall neighborhood bar—bean bags check, long wooden tables check, chill music check—but with one exception: hard cider is the main attraction.
No not apple cider. We’re talking about hard cider. It’s almost like wine in terms of production, but instead of grapes, assorted fruits are used. As such, ciders can serve as an entry-point into appreciating alcoholic drinks, a role once reserved for things like Cali shandy and flavored beer.
On the menu is a wide variety of bottled ciders imported from Australia and New Zealand. The Crushed Apple and Getta Pear from Three Oak Cider Co were the most affordable of the ciders at P120.00 per bottle. Both pegged at 5% ABV, the flavors of apples and pears really stood out, making Three Oaks Cider Co. the poster boy “traydor” drink; you won’t feel the buzz until you try and stand up.
There were more complex offerings such as the Zeffer Cider Co. Tea Leaf Infused (P190.00), which is almost like drinking spiked iced tea. But what I enjoyed the best, was the Crooked Apple which was 500ml of pure green apples at 5.2% ABV. It almost feels like drinking a glass of apple flavored sparkling wine; half a liter bottle costs P230.00.
Of course, what’s a bar without food? Spiffy’s Grove sets aside the usual bar chow for two rather unique offerings: dumplings and jaffles—nope, not waffles. Jaffles as in a toasted sandwich made in a metal skillet, which is a thing in Australia.
Historically linked to packing whatever you have left over from dinner and putting it in between two slices of bread, jaffles has of late taken an artisanal twist. Jaffles is close to Aristocrat’s flying saucer sandwich—memba that?—with mac and cheese, corned beef, or spaghetti between two slices of grilled bread.
Spiffy’s has only been open for less than a year, and Gladys says that she hopes for it to become one of the catalysts for cider culture in Manila, in the same way that specialty coffee and craft beer have become rather mainstream in less than a decade.
An important note to freelance southerners: Spiffy’s Grove is also one of the few bars that is actually open from lunchtime onwards, so if you’re looking for a place to park yourself for hours on end, consider this!
412 El Grande Avenue, BF Homes Parañaque. +632 5017765. 12pm to midnight
Photos: Monica Panteleon
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