Gin and Juice


I know I’ve lamented in the past about the
poor fruit production of my Kalamansi tree, Kal. But for all intents
and purposes, Kal has had a pretty decent and citrusy summer so far by
yielding a fairly sizeable crop for me. Albeit that the kalmansi I pick
every now and then are still quite small and haven’t grown to the size
I would like (ideally, they should be about an inch around), they are
still bursting with juice. And these small tart-tinged orbs are indeed
a step up from my slim pickins of yesteryear that all but died as soon
as they reached the size of a grain of rice.

But Kal’s meager
offerings aren’t entirely his fault. He’s relegated to a corner of our
balcony (our condo has no yard, just a small porch and the
aforementioned balcony) where he is kept under close watch by our
garden gnome, Reggie.


Kal and Reggie, BFFs

As it is, Kal
soaks up about 4 hours of sun a day. I’ve read that citrus needs at
least 8 hours of sun, so I’m sure Kal’s smallish limes are directly
correlated to his lack of solar energy.

And it has also occurred
to me that perhaps I lack the green thumb gene that seems to be so very
prevalent in my family. Both of my grandfathers are wonderful gardeners
who have grown all sorts of goodies in their respective backyards, I
have an uncle who owns and tends a large sprawling farm in the Philippines, and my parents spend weekends in their garden tending to
their supply of various halucinogenic fungi magic poppy fields cannabis
coca plants uh, fruits and veggies.

Although I presently lack any
gardening prowess in my DNA (I’m hoping it’s still too early to tell),
I’ve at least seemed to inherit my father’s appreciation for a good
buzz via a stiff drink (well, that and an undying, forever-burning
internal rage). And while Kal’s bounty is always good for a squeeze
into a small dish of soy for a toyomansi dipping sauce, I’ve found that
the majority of the Kalamansi I pick usually ends up in a cocktail
glass to sate my inherited thirst for blurred vision and hiccups.


Iron Liver > Green Thumb

using kalamansi juice in cocktails is quite easy–just sub the
kalamansi for lemons or limes in the cocktail recipes that call for
them. A gin and tonic with a squeeze of kalamansi is a no-brainer, as
is a whiskey sour that is soured with the Pinoy lime. And as seen in
this post by Manju of Three Tastes, kalamansi juice can create a unique twist on the
margarita as well.

For me though, I’ve come to enjoy kalamansi in
the Aviation cocktail, which is an old pre-prohibition drink comprised
of gin, lemon juice, and maraschino liqueur (and also creme de violette,
but that is an old ingredient that is incredibly hard to come by).

I used kalamansi juice and some of the Ginebra Gin I brought back from the Philippines to make my version of an
Aviation cocktail, I hereby dub this drink “Philippine Airlines”
(Clearly No. 2).



Anyhoo, this drink isn’t
overly sour from the kalamansi juice as it is balanced out by the
sweetness and pepperiness of the maraschino liqueur. And don’t confuse maraschino liqueur
with that red chemical/corn syrup sludge found in jarred store-bought
artificial maraschino cherries. Maraschino liqueur is an alchoholic
concoction made from fermented sour cherries–pits and all. Maraschino liqueur has a thick, almost syrupy consistency to it and is nutty, sweet, peppery and has juuuust a hint of cherry in it.

Also, do yourself a favor
and make your own maraschino cherries by following this NYT recipe (I
made a batch earlier this summer at the height of cherry season, the
artificial cherries don’t come close to the real thing).

we’re on the subject of cocktails, another old man drink that I’m quite
fond of is the Manhattan cocktail. The manhattan is composed of whiskey (bourbon is good, rye may be better), bitters, and sweet vermouth. I made a discovery a few weeks ago
when I was mixing myself a Manhattan and took a whiff of my sweet
immediately reminded me of the Basi (Ilocano wine made from fermented
sugar cane) that I had brought back from Ilocos. So I did a little
taste test between the sweet vermouth and the Basi.


out that the sweet vermouth and Basi were quite similar in looks,
smell, and taste–which is pretty odd considering they are fermented from completely different things (grapes vs. sugarcane). I wouldn’t say the vermouth and basi are dead ringers for each other,
but they were pretty close. I’d say that the Basi was a touch sweeter
and more astringent than was the sweet vermouth.


The Basi Manhattan I mixed was very complex–and rightfully so as this drink is usually spicy, sweet, and bitter all at once. But with the Basi subbing in for the sweet vermouth, my version was also a bit more astringent as well–quite a tasty twist if you’re used to drinking old-man Manhattans.

Philippine Airlines (Aviation cocktail w/Kalamansi Juice)

Makes 1 cocktail

Although I prefer to have a bit more maraschino than Kalamansi in this drink, feel free to play around with the ratios (but leave the amount of gin alone!) to fit your particular tastes.

2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce Maraschino Liqueur (I prefer the Luxardo brand)
1/4 ounce Kalamansi juice

Combine the gin, maraschino liqueur, and kalamansi juice in a mixing glass or shaker with ice. Stir briskly for 15 seconds, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a Kalamansi lime on the rim, or a maraschino cherry in the glass.


Basi Manhattan

Makes 1 cocktail

I usually make my Manhattans with 2 parts rye whiskey to 1 part sweet vermouth. But since I found the Basi to be a bit stronger in flavor than the vermouth, I toned the basi amount down to 1/2 an ounce.

2 ounces rye whiskey
1/2 ounce Basi wine (fermented sugarcane wine from the Philippines)
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters

Combine the whiskey, basi, and bitters in a mixing glass or shaker with ice. Stir briskly for 15 seconds, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.


  • Joelen August 19, 2008, 10:14 pm

    Man, when you have a party can I get an invite?! Those cocktails sound wonderful and I never thought to use kalamansi juice. Maybe it’s because I’m not quite as lucky to have a tree to grow them on! Would it even be worth it to try making these cocktails with frozen kalamansi juice? I’m tempted to try although I know it won’t taste as good as fresh…

  • Manggy August 20, 2008, 12:17 am

    Philippine Airlines! You slay me, Marvin 😀 If ever I come over to see you, I fear for my unacclimatized liver! 😛

  • Katrina August 20, 2008, 3:29 am

    Clearly, you’re as creative at the bar as you are in the kitchen! As a big fan of cocktails (well…I guess I’m a fan of alcohol, in general), I know that if I were to find myself in your neck of the woods (where is that expression from???), I could turn to you for some happy inebriation. ;-D

  • manju August 20, 2008, 5:59 am

    PAL… that’s perfect! ; D Your ability to pinoy-ize very staid or traditional recipes is astounding… I’m still pondering the duck adobo confit…
    And hey, at least you have a Kal and a Reggie — I miss having a calamansi tree at home…
    Thanks for the point to our site, too!

  • bagito August 20, 2008, 8:07 am

    Hi Marvin,
    I’m a new fan, delurking to let you know Seafood City here in SoCal sells calamansi trees as well, in case you’re on the lookout for a twin for Kal. I’ve been wanting to get my own calamansi tree but since I live in a condo, too, I thought I couldn’t have one since it would need to be transplanted later on. But after reading your Kal posts, guess it’s time to get one! Woohoo!

  • Wandering Chopsticks August 20, 2008, 9:41 am

    Philippine Airlines! So clever!
    You haven’t tried my suggestion to bury shrimp shells in the pot have you? Seriously, it’s revived my roses and a jasmine plant. Bury them deep or any stray cats might go digging.

  • bernadette August 21, 2008, 1:59 am

    can’t comment much as to drinks…although they look inviting!
    If you don’t mind my unsolicited advice…try replanting Kal in a bigger pot. Maybe its roots are cramp and add a bit of fertilizer (are you composting—stupid question?) so Kal can bloom and soon probably you’d have more problem trying to find out how to make use of the juices. Hope you won’t become an alchoholic, though :-)!

  • Erin August 21, 2008, 10:22 am

    I am growing a lemon tree from seed, at 10 months old it’s at five inches. Something tells me it will be a while before it yields fruit. I think I’ll take bernadette’s advice myself and repot.
    I love the twists you put on cocktails. I think I’ll have to check out Uwajimaya for calamansi to go with the Clear Creek Gin in my freezer.

  • elmomonster August 21, 2008, 10:51 am

    And here I thought Kal was dead! Long live Kal!

  • Mila August 21, 2008, 10:57 am

    Re-pot Kal! He’ll bless you with more fruits for PALs.

  • Julie August 21, 2008, 2:05 pm

    I think Kal needs a bigger pot, Marvin. You gotta take care of Kal if he’s gonna put in for your PAL!

  • rita August 22, 2008, 4:29 am

    i agree with the some of the replies – repot Kal. have you tried using any kind of fertilizer? that might help. on another note, your entry is making me thirsty.
    good luck with Kal and prost!

  • dhanggit August 22, 2008, 9:39 am

    I used to drink a lot of this when I was a student :-) hehehe I love the aviation cocktail, great touch to use kalamansi on it!

  • greasemonkey August 22, 2008, 9:44 am

    you might wanna try bruising the leaves and adding them into cocktails too! hehe.. or mixing them with other leaves like mint for mojitos.. will use your tips to dispatch a bottle of basi i’ve been saving for a coupla years.. ingat!

  • oggi August 22, 2008, 11:27 am

    Last year my tree shed all its fruits before maturing but this year it is very generous and I am still enjoying the crop. I followed one of your commenters’ advice to feed it with shrimp shell water and I’m not sure if that helped. Maybe the tree is already mature enough to produce fruits.
    I don’t drink regularly but my daughter will appreciate these recipes of yours.:)
    BTW, the author Neil Gaiman loved the calamansi soda/drink when he went to the Philippines last year and wrote about it in his blog.

  • Mike August 23, 2008, 11:03 pm

    I like the gnome.

  • margaux August 23, 2008, 11:46 pm

    That PAL drink looks like it’ll definitely end in a crash! Ginebra gin is nasty! Interesting mix but nasty! 😉

  • Toni August 24, 2008, 1:35 pm

    So why weren’t you bartending last nite?
    Thanks for the wine – next time I think I’ll hit you up for one of these beauties — I don’t think I’ve ever tasted one. ;-(

  • Jude August 24, 2008, 7:34 pm

    Oh wow. Can’t believe you were able to smuggle some Ginebra from abroad. Paint thinner of choice for my old buddies in the Philippines!

  • Tom Aarons August 25, 2008, 4:41 am

    Clearly the gnome isn’t working hard enough at making at making the lime tree grow. Threaten him with… um… what are gnomes scared of?

  • Lori Lynn August 25, 2008, 7:19 am

    Marvin -Now I am parched!!!
    You have given me a great idea, I am about to plant some citrus trees in my SoCal yard, I am going to talk to my gardener about Kal.
    And you crack me up as usual.

  • Hector August 26, 2008, 7:11 am

    I’ve actually made a mojito with kalamansi before…ended up pretty good, although I can’t say I’m that much of a bartender, even though I own a rather extensive liquor cabinet, ahahaha…also, johnnie gold with a twist of kalamansi’s good for a quick nightcap…

  • Burnt Lumpia August 26, 2008, 11:40 am

    Joelen, I don’t see why the frozen juice wouldn’t be worth a try. No, it won’t be as good as fresh, but I think if it’s pure frozen Kalamansi juice it will still taste pretty good.
    Manggy, whenever you do make it out here, I’ll go easy on your liver!
    Katrina, I’d be happy to mix you a drink anytime!
    No problem Manju! As soon as I get a few more Kalamansi grown, I will be giving your margarita a try as well.
    Thanks very much for delurking bagito! I didn’t know there were any trees at Seafood City. Thanks for the tip! And yes, keepint the tree in the pot is a perfect solution for us condo dwellers;)
    hi WC. I actually have not forgotten about your shrimp tip and am saving it for the next time I re-pot Kal–which I guess will be very soon.
    Thanks for the advice bernadette! And yes, I think I’ll be moving Kal soon.
    Hi Erin! Yeah, I think you’ve got some ways before you see lemons. And definitely give the calamansi a try with any gin drink.
    He’s still alive and kicking, elmo!
    Thanks Mila! More fruits for more PALs is enough motivation for me;)
    But I do take care of Kal, Julie! He doesn’t take care of me;)
    Hi rita. I do use fertilizer, but only once every couple of months.
    Hello dhanggit! I’m glad to have found another fan of the aviation!
    Are the leaves edible greasmonkey? I never thought to use them in that way, but I’m gonna test out your bruising idea.
    Thanks oggi! If the shrimp thing worked for you, then I will definitely be trying it.
    Thanks Mike.
    Ginebra isn’t exactly my favorite gin, margaux, but I don’t think it’s that bad;)
    Hi there Toni! Thanks for stopping by. And Todd didn’t need my help the other night–his cocktails were fantastic!
    Hi Jude. Ha, paint thinner indeed!
    Hmmm, good question Tom. I think gnomes might be afraid of cats, but who knows:P
    I’m glad I’m keeping you laughing Lori Lynn.
    Hello Hector, thanks for visiting. I’m the same as you, not much of a bartender, but plenty of liquor to experiment with!

  • greasemonkey August 30, 2008, 7:30 am

    hehe.. they’re a bit chewy and thick so you won’t really wanna bite into one but they’re intense when you tear em up or bruise em! got the idea from when i made my first leche flan many many pounds ago.. hehe..

  • Sheila September 10, 2008, 10:42 am

    I LOVE YOUR SITE… I couldn’t close it, I was rolling on the floor laughing at your wit.
    I love lumpia, and the filipino fried rice. My husband, was a SeaBee, and alot of the crew were from the Phillipines. Every friday they always cooked some wonderful foods. I live in rural Kansas, but from SF bay area. Miss the international foods available. Thanks again for a great web site.

  • Alcoholic cocktail recipes May 26, 2009, 10:50 am

    good recipes for the drinks!!! thanks Burnt Lumpia

  • john April 13, 2012, 1:33 am

    May i ask ,what store did you bought your gongogong basi revolt wine? thanks a lot


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