While you can’t go wrong ordering a classic cocktail like an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan, part of the joy of the bar experience is watching a bartender expertly prepare an elaborate drink that you can’t make at home—especially when the process involves a blowtorch, secret ingredients, and house barrel-aged whiskies.

Shangri-La at the Fort’s head mixologist Ulysse Jouanneaud describes the drinks on the bar menu at Raging Bull Chophouse & Bar as “twisted cocktails.” To suit the classic American steakhouse concept, all of the cocktails have a touch of American whiskey—namely bourbon or rye. The bar’s shelves stock a total of 54 American whiskeys; about 30 percent are not available for purchase locally and are brought in from Europe, Hong Kong, and the US.

Shangri-La at the Fort’s head mixologist Ulysse Jouanneaud

There’s also the proprietary Raging Bull bourbon. The hotel buys 180-liter barrels from individual distillers in Iowa. “I’d love to have the barrel in here but there’s no space,” says Ulysse. “So we have a little one here, and one of our distributors keeps the barrels. When we finish the barrel we give it to him and he fills it up.” Barrel-aged cocktails like the Boulevardier and Martinez are on the shelves too.

Ulysse approaches developing cocktail recipes the way a chef reinterprets classic dishes: he’s grounded with a solid understanding of the basics and he has the creativity and vision necessary to make something new. He spent a year studying bartending fundamentals at CFA Médéric and two and a half years making classic cocktails at the Hilton Arc de Triomphe in Paris before he learned molecular mixology as a bartender at Zeta Bar in Sydney. He then moved to Shangri-La Qaryat al Beri, Abu Dhabi, where he bartended at the cocktail bar Pearls & Caviar. Within four years he was the hotel’s head mixologist. In 2015 he took the opportunity to work in Asia as head mixologist of Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila and develop the beverage program for the hotel’s seven restaurant concepts.

 

His flair for experimentation with Raging Bull’s reimagined classic cocktails is evident in drinks like the Maple Bacon Manhattan. He worked with Samba chef Carlo Echegaray to create a bacon fat wash Bulleit bourbon. The bacon is grilled and dehydrated, then placed in a bottle of bourbon for nine days. After nine days they put the bottle in the freezer, where the bourbon doesn’t freeze but the bacon does. They then remove the fat that has been macerated for nine days; the remaining bourbon has “a bit of smokiness and a bit of fattiness” that’s rich without tasting like cured meat.

Bacon fat wash Bulleit bourbon

People who are unfamiliar with the American whiskies used in the drinks may be enticed by the use of local ingredients that appeal to local palates. “We try as much as possible to use local products,” says Ulysse. The Bonifacio Penicillin swaps lemon for calamansi and uses a jam made of spicy local ginger. The pandan syrup of the Mamma Mia adds a refreshing but familiar touch to the twisted mint julep.

Bonifacio Penicillin

The house-made bitters—intriguingly named smoky, gunpowder, dirty, and cowboy—all have secret recipes, though Ulysse discloses that the cowboy bitters have “some hickory, barbecue sauce, some Chartreuse” infused with tobacco leaves and the dirty bitters have “some dust in it—that’s why it’s called dirty bitters.”

Ulysse oversees the entire beverage program of Shangri-La at the Fort, from the healthy smoothies at Kerry Sprouts to the gin trolley at High Street Café and the delicate cocktails of Canton Road. But he admits that after almost a year of office work as part of the hotel’s pre-opening team, he was especially looking forward to the opening of Raging Bull because he missed making drinks and interacting with people at the bar. “Once we opened this bar in September I was a kid at Christmas,” he says. “Finally I had my playground.”

Raging Bull’s bar

Raging Bull’s dining area

Raging Bull’s Twisted Cocktails

After trying these reimagined classics you’ll leave Raging Bull with a new appreciation for both American whiskey and classic cocktails:

Boulevardier: Raging Bull bourbon, Cocchi Storico vermouth, Campari bitter, gin barrel orange bitters

One of the house barrel-aged cocktails—it’s kept in the barrel for a minimum of four weeks.


Maple and Bacon Manhattan: bacon fat wash Bulleit Bourbon, Mancino Rosso vermouth, maple syrup, smoky bitters

Maple Bacon Manhattan

The very Canadian maple-bacon combination makes this cocktail smoky, fatty, and sweet all at once.


Cock vs. Buffalo: Fighting Cock bourbon, Buffalo Trace bourbon, fresh lemon juice, homemade corn-butter cordial, gunpowder bitters

This version of the whisky sour plays with the idea of the two bourbons fighting each other—the Fighting Cock is spicy and bold and Buffalo Trace is pleasantly smooth. With the starchy popcorn notes of the corn-butter cordial you won’t miss the simple syrup.


Cowboy Old Fashioned: Raging Bull bourbon, Nectar Pedro Ximenez sherry, homemade vanilla syrup, hickory smoke, cowboy’s bitters

The creamy sherry and vanilla syrup counter the bolder flavors of the bourbon, smoke, and bitters. Drinking this multi-layered Old Fashioned is an ever-unfolding experience.


Monkey Business: Monkey Shoulder blended malt, homemade rosemary syrup, Griotte cherry juice, whiskey barrel bitters

Served with burning rosemary, which some witches use as part of a magical ritual to warm a cold heart.


Dirty Blue Blazer: Raging Bull barrel proof bourbon, Grand Marnier cordon rouge, homemade cassia syrup, orange bitters, dirty bitters

Don’t try to make this at home. The Blue Blazer is the original flaming cocktail made famous by Jerry Thomas that involves tossing flaming whiskey (mixed with boiling water and sugar) between two metal cups. The twisted version is more smoky than sweet but it’s still similar to a whiskey hot toddy.


Bonifacio Penicillin: Elijah Craig 12 yrs Bourbon, fresh calamansi, homemade ginger jam, house Szechuan honey, egg white

Raging Bull’s signature drink uses bold and sweet Kentucky Straight small-batch bourbon instead of the blended, lightly peated Scotch called for in the original Penicillin by Milk & Honey’s Sam Ross. The calamansi, ginger, and honey add to the cure-all effect.


Raging Bull Chophouse & Bar is located at Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila

For reservations and inquiries, call 820-0888 or visit www.ragingbullchophouse-fort.com.


Photos by Star Sabroso

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