Summertime Salabat


Salabat is a hot Filipino ginger tea usually served during the colder months of winter (well, if in the Philippines I guess it’s served just during the cooler months) to sooth and comfort what ails you. In fact, Salabat may be the Filipino elixir of choice to combat the ill effects of cold and flu season: coughing, sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, and overall booger-cloggedness. Heck, Salabat can even soothe one’s golden pipes after a late night of carousing and karaoke (if that’s how you roll).

While I enjoy warming my mitts around a scalding mug of freshly steeped ginger tea as much as the next guy, the weather in SoCal is currently hotter than two rats in an effing wool sock. In addition to the hotness in my neck of the woods, I’ve also been sweating and whiling away painting a nursery, re-finishing an old rocking chair, putting together a crib, and making sure the wife is well-fed–all in anticipation of the pending birth of my demon seed (I mean that affectionately, of course). As such, sipping on hot tea is a less than desirable way to quench my thirst at the moment.

Despite the present circumstances though, I have found a way to enjoy Filipino ginger tea during the hot summer months… make a cocktail!

Salabat22 Hot 4 T

I know what you’re thinking. It’s completely out of character for me to reappropriate something seemingly tame into an alcoholic beverage. Yeah, I’m shocked too.

Anyhizzle, one of my favorite hot-weather cocktails is the Dark and Stormy–a simple Bermudan concoction comprised of dark rum (Goslings Black Seal), a squeeze of lime, and some ginger beer. Despite it’s name, ginger beer is actually non-alcoholic–think of it
as a more potent and gingery ginger ale. I usually also prefer ginger
beers from Bermuda (like Barritts) in a Dark and Stormy, but Reed’s
will do if you can’t find Bermudan ginger beer. Also check out this post at Serious Eats for more info on ginger beer.

I figured I could take advantage of Salabat’s spicy and gingery bite by cooling down a batch of the hot ginger tea and then subbing it in for the ginger beer in a traditional Dark and Stormy. My Salabat Cocktail isn’t as fizzy or funky as a traditional Dark and Stormy, but it makes for a great sipper on a hot day.

Salabat Ginger Tea

Makes 2-3 servings

3 cups water
3 tablespoons brown sugar
5-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, then simmer for 10 minutes.

For winter enjoyment: Ladle the hot ginger tea into a coffee mug or teacup and serve immediately. You could strain the ginger slices out, but I like to leave them in. If the ginger tea is too spicy, it can be watered down or sweetenend with more sugar or honey as desired.

For summertime shenanigans: Cool tea completely. Then mix with dark rum for a Salabat Cocktail (see recipe below).

Here it is, the groove, slightly transformed

Salabat Cocktail

Makes 1 drink

2 ounces dark rum (Goslings, or even Tanduay)
4 ounces cooled and strained Salabat ginger tea
Club Soda
1 Kalamansi Lime

In a Collins glass filled with ice, add the rum and Salabat ginger tea. Top off with club soda, then garnish with a squeeze of Kalamansi. Enjoy the day.

  • Mike July 14, 2009, 6:48 pm

    Nice, now all you need is kamote-q and you’re set.

  • joey July 14, 2009, 7:38 pm

    I am one of those Filipinos that believe salabat can cure all ills :) The hotter (stronger) the better…it burns everthing in its path! I also love rum-based cocktails so your salabat cocktail is pure wonderful genius to me :)

  • Mila July 14, 2009, 8:40 pm

    There’s a ginger/salabat martini at Larry’s Bar in Fort Bonifacio. A friend first thought it smelled like medicine, since she associates salabat with being sick. But I kinda like it. Pretty refreshing and a nice kick at the end.

  • fortuitous faery July 14, 2009, 9:02 pm

    Have you ever tried the instant salabat/ginger brew powder sold at Filipino/Asian stores?

  • Jikuu July 14, 2009, 9:27 pm

    Yes, this is completely unsurprising. When you turn a cocktail into something non-alcoholic, then I’ll cry about the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Then again, it makes sense that you might do this for your dear wife, or worse, for your demon seed in order to turn him/her into a budding alcoholic. Must start small, you know?
    By the way, will you be trying to sneak away for AB’s 10th anniversary live episode in Atlanta? <.<

  • jenn July 14, 2009, 11:42 pm

    I always recommend this for people with sore throats. I was working on a movie set last week where everyone was screaming and yelling. I got so many thank you’s that I saved them from losing their voices. The power of the ginger. 😉

  • Katrina July 14, 2009, 11:46 pm

    This sounds so delicious, Marvin! I love salabat and rum, what a perfect match!

  • bernadette July 15, 2009, 4:18 am

    hmmm…i always tried to avoid salabat when i was young-er. until i discovered it tastes a lot better with calamansi! and now, rum! thanks for the added zest, marvin!

  • marguerite July 15, 2009, 11:53 am

    I definitely want to try making the hot tea and the cocktail! YUM!

  • Burnt Lumpia July 16, 2009, 5:03 pm

    Thanks Mike, though I prefer banana-q!
    I also love strong and spicy salabat, joey. It’s especially good with rum though.
    Hi Mila! I can imagine how well the salabat would go with a mild gin, or vodka even. Hmmm, I may have to experiment with ginger martinis now.
    Hello Fortuitous Faery. I have not tried the instant salabat, though I’ve read about them. But making salabat from scratch is easy enough that I don’t think I’d try the powdered kind.
    You’re on to me, Jikuu. It would be in the child’s best interest to get started on the alcohol asap;P. And sadly, I won’t be going to ABs live show, though I wish I could. Any other year and I would have definitely made plans to go.
    A movie set full of screamers, jenn? Sounds awesome. Salabat cures all!
    Thanks Katrina. If you love both separately, I’m sure you’d enjoy them together.
    It’s definitely better with a squeeze of calamansi, bernadette.
    Thanks marguerite. I hope you enjoy both.

  • ahnjel July 16, 2009, 8:37 pm

    thats sounds divine! ill try that… i wonder if itll go well with vodka… hmmmm…
    omg! youre from the valley? hahaha nice! they have 2 seafood city supermarkets there now, one in nordhoff and closer to where my aunt lives. im in san diego, thanks to the US Navy, and we live in east county… oh asian store so far…

  • Manggy July 17, 2009, 5:22 am

    A cocktail on Burnt Lumpia? Noooo 😛 Of course, I’m more familiar with salabat than I am with Dark and Stormies :) I’ve had neither, though!

  • Bong July 20, 2009, 12:45 pm

    hmmmm… sounds good!!! I think I will have to do extensive research on this cocktail to see if the ginger will counter-act the hangover!!!

  • princess July 21, 2009, 8:09 am

    wonder how the salabat will taste with a fruit liqueur……hmmmmm…

  • Cynthia July 21, 2009, 12:42 pm

    Whew! Thank heavens I scrolled down – dark rum, now we’ talking! Hope you and the wife and the wee little one are all going well.

  • JungMann July 22, 2009, 11:24 am

    Try making a Pimm’s Cup with salabat. Not only do you get the spice of the ginger, but you could also probably add even more Filipino flair with a splash of calamansi.

  • dhanggit July 24, 2009, 4:06 am

    between this two i think i prefer salabat cocktail!! it look so refreshing!! perfect for summer!! what a wonderful creation of yours again!

  • the philippine island July 25, 2009, 6:24 am

    yes, salabat is very good to our health. I really love the taste too.

  • Burnt Lumpia August 2, 2009, 8:50 am

    Yup ahnjel, I’m from the valley;)
    You haven’t had salabat manggy? Maybe since you’re a doctor you don’t get sick much so you don’t need salabat.
    Hehe Bong. I’m not sure if the medicinal properties will stretch that far!
    Good question, princess. I’m not sure which fruit liquer would be best though.
    Thanks Cynthia! I’m glad I have your approval on the rum;)
    Nice JungMann! I’ll definitely give a Pimm’s Cup a go.
    Thanks dhanggit. It definitely is refreshing for the summer.
    Thanks PI.


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