We are experiencing an evolution in bar and cocktail culture with different concepts popping up to a receptive public eager to try new things. The pop-up bar concept itself is still fairly new territory in the local scene. Serbesa MNL—the brainchild of Jazelle Carandang—is a pop-up bar + food concept that pairs food with select local beers and homemade cocktails. Jazelle shares, “Since my goal was really to promote the local craft beers, it just makes sense to name it something in direct reference to beer.”

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Jazelle Carandang

Her taste for craft beer was awakened when she was in Singapore. Before that, her knowledge of beer was limited to local, mass-produced beer. She loved the nuances of flavor and the variety that craft beer offered. Curiosity got the best of her and she decided to study it. “I bought a lot of books about beers—how they make it, how they do it. I took a quick course. I wanted to know as much as I could,” she says. Her attuned palate can be attributed to having worked in the kitchen prior to this; she was a sous chef in Rambla for two years.

Serbesa MNL holds pop-up events (usually for two nights) at different locations to pair her food with alcohol, specifically local craft beer. Beer Match: A Street Food and Craft Beer pairing night was Serbesa MNL’s second takeover of The Red Light (Poblacion, Makati). Beer Match “allows us to focus on specific beers and give props to the brewers in a big setting,” she remarks. “The food complements the beer and lets it shine.”

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The Laughing Cow Iniruban Pale Ale and White Mango Ale

The process in pairing starts with the food, and Jazelle finds beers to match them. For this event, she decided to pair food with The Laughing Cow from Tarlac, Pampanga, the first craft brewery in that province. They offered two beers: the White Mango Ale and Iniruban Pale Ale.

Her bestselling Squash and Jalapeño Poppers (squash blossom, cream cheese, mozzarella, and jalapeno bits) was paired with the Mango Ale, which balances the creamy spiciness of the food. This beer is sweet with a bitter finish, almost like cider.

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Squash and Jalapeño Poppers paired with the Mango Ale

The Iniruban Pale Ale is inspired by a local grilled delicacy made of sticky rice, young coconut, and sugar (tupig). “I just found out that Iniruban means ‘smoked’ in Ilocano, so that’s where the roasted suman (rice cake) taste comes from,” she informs us. It is smoky, full-bodied, and rich with a slight bitter kick and a hint of roasted sweetness. It was paired with the Surf and Turf (grilled kalbi beef, crab fat, hollandaise, beer-battered onion rings, pickled cucumber, alfalfa). They blended and complemented each other; the beer added smokiness to the beef.

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Surf and Turf paired with Iniruban Pale Ale

 

 

She also offered two cocktails for those who wanted to have a different drinking experience. The Pink Panther (four seasons, infused rum, Stanford Shaw ginger ale, calamansi syrup) is a sweet and fruity, easy to drink cocktail. The Moscojito, a cross between a Moscow Mule and a Mojito, (kamias-infused rum, Stanford Shaw ginger ale, cilantro) is a refreshing and citrusy drink. Jazelle infused the local white rum herself, using kamias (Bilimbi fruit) from her backyard, mint, and cilantro, experimenting on the perfect infusion time. She roasts the kamias to keep the sourness while making it smokey. The result is a slightly smoky, aromatic, fresh, tempered spirit that livens up the palate, with that rum punch at the end. This was a delightful discovery. Request for a serving (or three) of this infused liquor neat or on the rocks, if it’s available at the next pop-up event.

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The Pink Panther (four seasons, infused rum, Stanford Shaw ginger ale, calamansi syrup) paired with kamote fries
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Moscojito (kamias-infused rum, Stanford Shaw ginger ale, cilantro)

 

Serbesa MNL’s menu varies for each event to keep it fresh. “I want to give Serbesa MNL the surprise touch, something people would go to because it’s only here for a limited time,” says Jazelle.

What’s Serbesa MNL’s next stop? Watch out for it at a few upcoming bazaars, namely Gourmand Market, Row 101, and Valero Eat Street. The next pop-up event for the next leg of Serbesa MNL is entitled Prohibited: A 1920’s Masquerade Degustation Event and it will happen on November 26.


Follow @SerbesaMNL on Facebook and Instagram for updates.


Photos by Star Sabroso

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