Of Craft Beers and Caramelized Ampalaya Cocktails

Jim Araneta’s new place is a haven for liquor.


(SPOT.ph) Look down at your stomach. If you see a bulging midsection courtesy of an unshakeable beer habit, you have "beertender" Jim Araneta to blame. Araneta imports craft beer and other types of beer from around the world into the country under the label Global Beer Exchange. Because of him, bars and restaurants have amped up their beer menus and customers who now enjoy more than the usual light beer have become more discerning when it comes to their brew.


Cheding’s spicy peanut and banana chip mix


In November 2012, Jim opened The Bottle Shop, a venue for him to house his goods and also for people to enjoy them on site. Beers on tall wooden shelves near the entrance will draw you in, but before you get fully enthralled, take note of the ingenious tables with built-in buckets that can easily fit and cool 16 bottles. The Bottle Shop doesn't have a kitchen to churn out pub food that works so well with ale, but they do have a spicy peanut and banana chip mix from Iligan favorite, Cheding’s. Besides, food from neighboring restaurants may be brought in. For the cigar smokers, Jim offers rolls of Tabaqueria and Tabacalera.



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Just a fraction of the selection


But you come here for the beer, and the sheer amount of options at your disposal will have you further mesmerized: Jim has Rogue Ales, Gordon Beirsch, Holgate, Ballast Point, and Kiuchi Breweries.


A mixologist torches the ampalayas to get that caramelized flavor.



The Elderflower Blush, Transatlantic, and Julinger


As if that’s not enough, The Bottle Shop also extends their drinks menu by offering cocktails. "I love gin as much as I love my craft beer," confesses Jim. "Unlike vodka which is odorless and tasteless, gin is aromatic and flavorful because of the up to 32 botanicals used to make it. My love for gin is what drove me to start experimenting with cocktails. I took a mixology course in New York last year then started mixing once weekly." He then hired Larry Guevara who, in a competition last year, bested other mixologists. They collaborated, experimented, and came up with a lineup of alcoholic beverages that they introduced to the eager market just last December. As expected, 13 out of the 19 items on the menu use gin as the base, proof of Jim's preference for it.


Cool down with the Julinger



Ready to be jolted by the Bloody Bastard



Jim and Tonics with sili and cucumber



Each of the cocktails has its own character. The award-winning Royale Mojave smells and tastes of flowers due to the rose syrup; the Sneaky Pauly is reminiscent of a dirty martini; the Fierce Pinay is a sweet concoction composed of vodka, triple sec, and caramelized ampalaya that ends with a strong punch from the calamansi juice; and the Bloody Bastard, which is an adulterated version of the Bloody Mary, comes with a "chaser" shot of tequila. He also has an array of Jim and Tonics that pairs fresh ingredients like coriander, rosemary, or sili with gin. Of the lot, the bourbon-based cocktail called Julinger, which perfectly marries the sting of ginger and the sweet and refreshing notes of fresh mint, is my favorite. I had it twice the day I spoke with Jim. It’s not difficult to tell which drink will cause my inevitable beer belly.




This January 2014, you may enjoy unlimited Bloody Bastard, Julinger, Sneaky Pauly and Tali Bali from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m., Tuesday to Saturday, for only P750 per head. The Bottle Shop is at Unit 103, Tritan Ventures Building, Paseo de Magallanes Center, Makati City; Tel. No. 0917-894-5076.


Angelo Comsti writes for Yummy magazine in addition to other publications. He studied at Le Cordon Bleu Australia. Grab a copy of his bestselling cookbook From Our Table To Yours for a collection of generations-old heirloom recipes from some of the country's best cooks and chefs. Follow Angelo on Instagram (@fooddudeph) to catch more of his food discoveries.

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