Cocktail Du Jour

Paleo Retiree writes:

Filipino food is something that’s having a moment in downtown NYC, so — trend-chasers that we are — The Question Lady and I have been checking it out. Thumbs up so far. Filipino food is related to other Asian-Pacific cuisines — heavy on the peppers, bitter melon, garlic, tropical fruits, fish and rice — while being its own distinct thing.

Our favorite of the restaurants we’ve tried so far is Jeepney, which describes itself winningly as a “Filipino Gastropub” and is half a sweetly earnest authentic place and half a sharply-designed hipster hangout. That’s a mixture that can be very pleasing, we’ve found. The real-natives side delivers heart and soul while the scenester side adds style and edge. Besides, what could be more fun than being in a room full of happy eaters half of whose inhabitants are smiley Filipinos bursting with homesick pride and whose other half are cute urban trendoids? Well, it works well in this case anyway.

The other night I enjoyed one of Jeepney’s signature cocktails, a San Felipe.


It’s really what a cocktail purist would call a mixed drink, but when it’s this good what’s the point in being a stickler? Ingredients: grapefruit juice, ginger syrup, barrel-aged bitters (did you know that bitters are HUGE this year?), lime and Bacardi rum. The sweet-sour bite of it, the surprise of ginger laid against grapefruit, the easy drinkability crossed with the grownup, bracing blast of bitterness … Well, I needed two more to fully explore the experience.

That thing floating in the middle of the drink?


Unsure whethere I’d been dealt something rotten or not, I asked our bartender about it. Turns out that it’s a sun-dried lime slice, and that sun-dried lime slices are standard brighteners in Filipino food. It adds an exotic visual as well as some nice nose-tickling.

Bonus points for the tastiest bone marrow we’ve ever had, a perfect mix of juicy-gelatinous and crispy/near-burnt enhanced by a wonderfully harsh blast of salt:

jeepney3And further kudos for inventive beach-shack-and-pinups decor:

jeepney_collageIt’s all a little self-conscious, but it’s also lively, cheery, friendly and full of unexpected touches. Our adventures in Filipino eating — and some memories they’ve triggered of a couple of Filipina job-colleagues I liked a lot back in the day — have got me wondering whether I shouldn’t bump the Philippines a little higher up on the list of places I’m planning to visit before I die.


  • Lots of overfancy writing about Jeepney and another Filipino joint from the New York Times’ Pete Wells. Man oh man has my tolerance for fancy writin’ shrunk to near-zero. What is it about food-and-drink as a subject that brings out the twee showoff in so many writers? But it’s a very professional and informative piece nonetheless.
  • Some knowledgeable Chowhounders share their reactions in more plainspoken fashion.

About Paleo Retiree

Onetime media flunky and movie buff and very glad to have left that mess behind. Formerly Michael Blowhard of the cultureblog Now a rootless parasite and bon vivant on a quest to find the perfectly-crafted artisanal cocktail.
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13 Responses to Cocktail Du Jour

  1. Fenster says:

    I like to think I am omnivorous where non-insects are concerned but I can’t yet wrap my mind around Balut, which I know they serve there. Perhaps if they added the squishy skeletal thing to a mixed drink, like they do that lime.


    • I haven’t had the guts to try balut either. I figure I don’t need to extend my tastes quite that far beyond the mid-American blandness I was raised on.


      • I’ve been fed by Filipinas for 25 years, and I’d be hard pressed to tell you the definition of Filipino food. Roast pig and blood pudding come to mind. Adobo, too.

        The Philippines is a hell of a fun trip, but I wouldn’t do it without a family to live with and protect me. Kidnapping Westerners is a common event. A $15,000 payoff is big money to a starving Filipino.

        Cebu and Manila are completely different cultures. Don’t know which I’d recommend.


      • Will S. says:

        Oh, yes; that’s something I don’t want to try, either. Have seen the pictures. No.

        Ditto dog or cat meat, over there. Or ‘jumping salad’, freshly caught shrimp deshelled dockside, dipped in vinegar right there eaten still squirming. No thanks.

        Yet a Filipino friend got grossed out when I told him I ate bull’s testicles once…


  2. Will S. says:

    Intriguing! I’ve never had Pinoy food, though there are lots of them in Toronto; don’t know if there are any restaurants that cater to them.

    I ate Indonesian food for the first time last night; it was comparable in various components to Chinese, Thai, Cambodian, as well as its own unique elements.

    I must seek out Filipino food.


  3. I may well turn out to be someone who’s content to admire the Philippines from afar.


  4. Fenster says:

    I have tried my hand at home from time to time. Tripe lovers will like Kare Kare.


  5. Christine says:

    The bad soft porn on the walls and a cocktail mixed with Tang put Jeepney in the “try it once” category for me, but I know other people have enjoyed it more.

    The best city to have Philippine food in the US is perhaps South San Francisco, where they have a lot of Filipino American and an outpost of Max’s, a successful Philippine restaurant chain that makes great fried chicken and highly satisfactory versions all the usual canonical Northern Philippine dishes, such as the kare kare that Fenster mentions.

    They have a branch in Jersey City which I haven’t visited, and the reviews on Yelp are mixed, but my general rule is, if you see a lot of bad reviews of an Asian restaurant on Yelp or, yet the place has been in business for ten years or more, it is probably very good.

    The other far flung Philippine restaurant to try is Purple Yam in Brooklyn, which is owned by the couple who used to run Cendrillon, which was a very pleasant Philippine restaurant on Mercer St.


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