“You serve what? Apple cider vinegar?!”
This is the first reaction that Nick and Gladys get when customers find out they operate a cider bar. It was my first reaction as well. I thought I knew alcohol, but when it comes to hard cider, I’m still a padawan.
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. From the exteriors, Spiffy’s ticks all the boxes of a typical hole in the wall neighborhood bar – bean bags, long wood tables, chill music — but with one exception: their main attraction is hard cider.
No not apple cider (with vinegar!). We’re talking about hard cider. For the uninitiated (which includes most of the Philippines), we were culturally not a cider drinking country, as opposed to other countries in Asia that stocks cider as a default menu item — I’m talking about you, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia. But the irony is, Filipinos do consume drinks **like cider**. Wine coolers, flavored beers, flavored vodka belong to a similar, although in my opinion less classy niche.
Hard cider is more similar to wine in terms of production, but instead of grapes, assorted fruits are used. Because of this, ciders can serve as an entry-point into appreciating an alcoholic drink, a place that was once reserved for flavored beer.
On the menu, we tried the Crushed Apple and Getta Pear from Three Oak Cider Co. At P120.00 per bottle, these were the most affordable ciders available. Both pegged at 5% ABV, the flavors of apples and pears really stood out — and this makes Three Oaks Cider Co. the poster boy “traydor” drink as you won’t feel the buzz until you stand up. There were more complex offerings such as the Zeffer Cider Co. Tea Leaf Infused at P190.00 and is quite similar to drinking spiked iced tea. The zenith, at least for me, 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 they also have food.
Spiffy’s Grove sets aside the usual bar chow for two rather unique offerings: dumplings and jaffles.
Wait, you mean waffles? Nope! Jaffles are a thing in Australia. Historically linked to packing whatever you have left over from dinner and putting it in between two slices of bread, waffles has of late taken an artisanal twist (what hasn’t right?). If you remember Aristocrat’s flying saucer sandwich, it’s close to that, but the grilled bread is filled with mac and cheese, corned beef, or spaghetti!
Asked about the future of Spiffy’s (they’ve only been open for less than a year), Gladys says that she hopes 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.
Spiffy’s Grove is also one of the few bars that is actually open from lunchtime onwards, so if you’re a freelancer in the south looking for a place to park yourself for hours on end, consider this!
412 El Grande Avenue, BF Homes
Call (02) 501 7765
Store Hours – 12 noon to midnight