Bread & Botany: An Intercontinental Exploration of Gin and TonicOctober 7, 2016
Bread and Botany was quaint, much like a lot of the little gems around Aguirre. Fairly hidden and tucked into its own little corner, the sandwichery and gin bar seems to sit still in its small existence, but there’s more to it. It’s comfortable and clean, and just the right amount of homey. And though they serve sandwiches most of the day, they also serve a plethora of gin and tonics starting from 5 PM, and who can resist a good gin and tonic?
Jonathan Choi is not a bartender. He’s a barista by trade, owner of Magnum Opus just two doors down. He had trained in the subtle art of coffee, not to say that this did not assist him when coming up with the menu. The story of Bread and Botany began from his and his business partner, Kristine Ongsiyping’s travels around the world. In other places, the list of gin and tonics was not limited to the conventional one shoe fits all Ginebra we have here. There was a considerable amount of variety in the gin, and with it a collection of tonics that fit these well. From fragrant to spicy, the vocabulary of flavors was extensive. And it was really this type of variety that had the two experimenting creating their own little intercontinental gin and tonic experience.
Though they had an idea of what they wanted, there wasn’t supply for what they needed. The two then decided to make it themselves. Choi creates his own tonics which he makes straight from the cinchona bark. They extract the flavor by steeping the bark much like tea, then flavoring with their own blend of aromatics and botanicals. Choi wanted to setup a “Finer Diner” as they call it. Serving straightforward, greasy, comforting food. They also wanted to serve their food alongside drinks that one could gulp down, but was also clean and refreshing, and the gin and tonic was clean and crisp perfected.
Their gin and tonic blends attempts to realize that not all gins come the same. It attempts to realize that gin comes in a plethora of nuances, much of which coming from the world from where it was born. From the Jinzu of Japan that uses a lot of botanicals like yuzu and cherry blossom and the Mansala which is fruity and almost tastes like fine aged wine.
And their treatment of the gin and tonic feels as clinical and calculated as the drink itself. They not only weigh all their ingredients to keep the flavor consistent, they also implement a two-step process for icing their drinks. They firstly stir it in ice, then they cool their glass, finally utilizing specialized ice orbs that last longer than the conventional cubes.
From the classic gin and tonic, they used Boodles London Dry Gin and blended it with Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water which is flavored with cane sugar, citric acid and cinchona. Topped with juniper berries and a lime wedge, the drink is an homage to the original. It’s straightforward, clean and crisp, the quintessential gin and tonic: clinical.
For those who do not particularly enjoy the extremely clean flavor of gin and tonic, the Nordes with their house tonic is a welcome change. The gin flavored with eucalyptus and sage, and topped with dried lavender buds and blueberries is fruity and fragrant. The drink possesses a perfumed, rounded flavor, the lavender adding just the right amount of softness, giving the right amount of perfume without making it seem like your chugging a glass of fabric softener.
Their gin and tonic cocktail, which they call the Last Word, is a bit boozier, heavier, punchier approach to the gin and tonic. Flavored with Tanqueray London Dry and Chartreuse, an herbal liquor, the cocktail is bright and refreshing, but it hits hard and gives off a strong citrusy punch.
Their final offering is a play on the Tom Collins. Named the Tonic Collins, the drink is a very orange forward drink that blends the familiar flavors of the famous drink that possess a cleaner bite.
The drinks are geared to be appreciated with their array of intercontinental sandwiches, from their own take on the Vietnamese banh mi, to their Tori Sando, and their Taiwanese Pork Belly Gua Bao. It’s a grand array of flavors that marry well with their varying type of gin and tonics.
It’s reflective of their approach to gin and tonic, transcendental and varying in influence. If one can say anything about Bread and Botany, it’s that it takes into account the varied beings of food. It realizes that gin comes differently in different contexts, and it appreciates the way things change and move while still being inherently the same. It attempts to explore, while keeping things simple and approachable. Bread & Botany a wholly different experience, but somewhat vaguely familiar.
Bread and Botany
A quaint sandwichery and gin bar on BF’s food hub, Aguirre.
Address: 2F The Prime, J. Elizalde cor Aguirre Ave., BF Homes, Parañaque City.
Contact: 0917 881 5225
Spend: 300–500 PHP for a sandwich and a drink
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