Liquido Maestro: Drinks for the Benefit of FarmersOctober 21, 2016
Local food has made great strides within the international market, with Filipino restaurants getting beginning to receive the recognition it truly deserves; Bon Apetit even naming our beloved chicken adobo the best recipe ever. Paired with the rise of ube into the a state of “trending” has only cemented the place of Filipino food in the global market. However, here in the Philippines, Ervincent “Kalel” Demtrio is staging his own Filipino movement. One that does not ask to forward, rather it implores us to return, to recede back to reliance on local.
A chef by trade, Demetrio discovered the unassuming potential of our local farms while working with Robbi Goco in setting up Green Pastures. The trips were awakening experiences for Demetrio, who found the seeming potential within our local agriculture. And after finding a hobby in making drinks, Demetrio soon found himself setting up Liquido Maestro . A hobby and an advocacy, the brand is dedicated to creating drinks that are locally sourced and locally flavored, while also pushing for support for farmers.
He trained himself by substituting local flavors for imported bitters. He mentions that all these flavors that we can get abroad had an equivalent in our local market, and it was really the matter of making the conscious effort to find these flavors. But beyond the favors, what Demetrio wants to push for is a community that looks to local first, one that relies on the efforts of our farmers before anything else.
“It’s really for the farmers,” he says.
Entrenched in a deep social and political dilemma, our farmers have always been in the center of a systematic play of power, one that always leaves them the losers. Demetrio wants to cut the middle man to empower the farmers to become confident in their product–allow them to become proud of their labor. Demetrio’s partner was actually a supplier for their restaurant once upon a time. It was upon Demetrio’s prodding that allowed for his partner to turn his dedicated farm into one that sold a variety of produce, effectively allowing him to sustain himself, and help the other farmers build expand.
It’s a movement concerned with making us see that returning to local is not just beneficial to us, but everyone, farmer and consumer alike. It puts into perspective how looking back to local will not only reduce the prices of our produce, but it will also make everything more sustainable.
And even though Demetrio aspires to bring his advocacy to the forefront, he does not forget that to bring awareness, he has to prove to everyone that potential of our local flavors. To prove this to us, he serves us two drinks that put these local flavors in the forefront.
The first is a tomato based cocktail which he calls the Diwata, a drink that attempts to capitalize the sweetness of our local tomato. Seemingly savory and sweet, the drink is an evolving experience. Beginning with the sweetness of the tomato, the flavors then shift into its tartness, assisted by the addition of the use of Manille Calamansi Liquer, and ends with the earthiness lent by the tarragon leaves. It’s an earthy, musty drink, rugged even, but still effortlessly refreshing.
The second is one that he has crafted perfect for the “autumn” season. The Imortal is founded on his own pumpkin spice liqueur that he pairs with his own Kafir liqueur, rosemary syrup, ghost chili liqueur, Manille dalandan, lime juice and burnt curry leaves. The result is another earthy experience. The drink starts out sweet, then builds in flavor as it laps in your tongue. The local pumpkin bursting with a creamy sweetness. Then it grows, the spice building in your tongue, paired with subtle pangs of sourness, ending in this burst of heat from the chili, just waking up the tongue and leaving you confused, and increasingly intrigued.
And if the experience was not definitive evidence that our local flavors has the potential to become so much more, I don’t know what is. Liquido Maestro is an effort that is both noble and courageous. It’s one that moves to prove a point, and in resounding brilliance. Demtrio might say that his passion for drinks was merely a hobby, but his efforts to bring local to forefront is anything but. Liquido Maestro is one that all of us must welcome with aplomb. It’s a movement that we should all be exceedingly happy about, proud even.
Locally distilled alcohol and cocktails made with Filipino flavors.