• Location: 2/F 5972 Alfonso cor. Fermina Street, Poblacion
  • Contact Number: +63917 530 2580
  • Operating Hours: 6 pm to 2 am
  • Price per head: Php900+ per person for food and drink
  • Signature drinks: Ritual ng Agimat, Perlas ng Silanganan, Anting anting ni Malvar, Sumpa ng Kagandahan, and the degustation menu with drinks highlighting langka as the main ingredient.

If you frequent Poblacion, chances are you’ve already visited Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen. Born from the creative minds of Liquido Maestro Kalel Demetrio and Chef Niño Laus, Agimat has been making noise locally and abroad since they soft-opened last summer. It is the first foraging resto-bar in the country, and it has been an exciting addition to the local F&B scene.

The bar derives inspiration from Filipino folklore and the Filipino amulet called “agimat” or “anting-anting” known to posses’ super natural power. Housed inside a classic bahay na bato, the path going inside is already an experience–burnt red candle wax lines up the stairs, amulets, and live vines hang along the railing and walls as if you’re about to enter a mangkukulam’s (witch) lair. A Balete tree is protruding in the middle of the bar welcoming guests to an exciting experience.

Staircase to Agimat
Anting-anting

Balete tree towering the bar

Agimat is located on the 2nd floor of bahay na bato in Alfonso cor. Fermina Street

Kalel has always been a pioneer in introducing rare local ingredients that are usually not part of the menu of your local ‘western’ inspired speakeasy bars. His current Agimat cocktail menu has ingredients that you’d only normally see in farmer’s market or when you visit provinces–toasted heirloom rice, catmon, kalingag (local cinnamon bark), kalumata (herby anise flavored plant), kamias, kamote leaves, santol, sineguelas, aratelis, and sampinit (local raspberry).

Liquido Maestro Kalel Demetrio

“When you ask people, ‘where did you get that batuan (a sour fruit native in Negros)?’ They usually tell me it’s from Kalel,” shares Niño. “I’ve always loved cooking with rare ingredients, and since Kalel is one of the known suppliers, I thought of opening a bar with him so that I can get our ingredients directly sourced,” shares Niño.

Chef Niño Laus and Kalel Demetrio

Both a lover of the outdoors and a supporter of local produce, the two go out on adventures together meeting local farmers and traversing wild paths to scour for local ingredients. “For the longest time, I was hesitant to open a bar because usually, the ones who want to partner are mostly businessmen with certain ideas that do not match my own, so, when this idea came up, I jumped on board because we had the same vision,” says Kalel.

Their first menu uses ingredients found in Batangas, the first province they visited for foraging. For first time diners, you can view a map of Batangas emphasizing what the ingredients are and where it came from to guide your experience. This September, they finally completed the menu, and they’re launching a five-course degustation with food and drinks inspired by elements–fire, water, air, earth, and life.

The foraging map

The course menu will highlight langka (jackfruit) as the main ingredient inspired by the huge langka that Kalel foraged from Batangas. Agimat utilizes all the parts of langka from the seeds, skin, meat, wood trunk, even the sap, for the dishes and drinks.

The first course from the degustation–Usok at Alabok: bourbon, dark rum, jackfruit infusion, latik distilate, jackfruit kalumata shrub, celery fire bitters, Pandan, Lime oleo saccharum; Etag egg custard, jackfruit glazed kinuday smoked with jackfruit wood

As expected in any foraging kitchen and bar, the ingredients are mostly seasonal, and the team plans to change the menu every three months. “Our main challenge is the logistics and seasonality of acquiring the ingredients. So, that’s why we come up with techniques to make our ingredients last longer, we pickle and ferment fruits, vegetables, and various fish,” explains Niño. Behind the bar, Kalel converts his fresh ingredients into shrubs (a sour mix which includes equal parts of fresh fruits and apple cider vinegar or pure cane sugar, and sugar) to prolong use of the fruits and vegetables.  

The bar shelves do not display mainstream liquor brands but homemade syrups, bitters, infused spirits, and shrubs
Behind the bar–shrubs, kombucha, and other pickled ingredients

Here are the items that you should try from the menu:

APOY

Bertud ng Tagumpay made with dark rum, bourbon, toasted heirloom rice, milk, panutcha, pandan, and cinnamon. It’s a Pinoy twist to the creamy Mexican Horchata, which is usually made with ground rice, sweetened milk, and cinnamon.

Bertud ng Tagumpay

Karunungan ni Bathala–dark rum, gin, passionfruit, kaffir, papaya lemongrass shrub, mint, and citrus aromatics. Kalel uses a palayok (clay pot) in serving the drink with burnt laurel, pandan, and lemon grass. The presentation mimics how locals from the countryside cook their meals in clay pots. 

Karunungan ni Bathala

Ritual ng Agimat is one of the main highlighted drink on the menu. It contains calamansi liquor, lambanog, tomato puree, melon tomato mint shrub, tamarind, lime, and rose citrus aromatics. They serve the drink with drumbeats and rhythmically shouted accompaniment from masked bartenders tossing a flamed liquor (much like a classic Blue Blazer). “When I was in the Mountain Province, I saw people celebrate a lot of things using drums–good harvest, ceremony, wedding, burials,” shares Kalel. In Agimat, it’s always a celebration every time you order a Ritual. The entire bar quiets down with raised cellphones to record the performance every time it is served. To enjoy this cocktail, let the drink sit for a few minutes for ingredients combine.

Ritual ng Agimat

LUPA

Dasal ng Babaylan–bugnay red wine, dark rum, tamarind, sugarcane, kagubatan bitters, and lime. This drink is on the sour side and highlights the acidic notes of the bugnay wine.

Dasal ng Babaylan

Gamot Para Makalimot, a funny name for a cocktail but you’ll know it’s serious once you’ve had a glass. Made with three kinds of liquor–rum, lambanog, apple kalingag liquor, combined with sampaguita, sugarcane, guyabano ginger shrub, herbed saline, beetroot, and lime.

Gamot Para Makalimot

TUBIG

Perlas ng Silanganan–gin, apple kalingag liquor, white rum, mango kamias basil shrub, cucumber, lime, and hibiscus passionfruit spritz. Customers who opt for a mocktail can order this drink minus the alcohol.

Perlas ng Silanganan

HANGIN

Anting-anting ni Malvar– gin, dalandan liquor, lambanog, batangas honey, rosemary, turmeric, ginger, herbed saline, and citrus bitters. A headturner, this drink is presented with dry ice sizzling in rosemary aromatics.

Anting-anting ni Malvar

Hari ng Himpapawid, one of the newest drinks on the menu. It contains wildberry liquor, sampaguita liquor, bourbon, lambanog, herbed saline, aratiles puree, and lime.

Hari ng Himpapawid

BUHAY

Sumpa Ng Kagandahangin, dalandan liquor, lavander liquor, sampaguita, rose, hibiscus, herb bitters, Batangas honey, herbed saline, tomato melon mint shrub, and lime. It’s perfect to buy for that girl you’ve been eyeing on the other table.

Sumpa Ng Kagandahan

Rose Lemondada Iced Teanot your usual tea leaf, the drink uses kamote leaves, calamansi, rosemary, and kalumata.

Rose lemondada iced tea
They serve complementary local puffed rice still clinging from its stems while you wait for your orders

Alimasag—alavar sauce, aligue, cilantro and dalandan foam, patani hummus

Alimasag

Burong Maliputo (fermented fresh water trevally)—sago chips, alugbati, buro, and dulong

Burong Maliputo

Mollusco—salungo, tahong, diwal, kapis uni emulsion, smoked mussels, grilled angel wings, and scallops

Mollusco

Manok—day old chicken, roasted dalandan, micro vegetables, vigan longanisa, Ilocos black garlic, and penoy sauce

Manok

Pogita at Malasugi—Octopus, Blue Marlin, pomelo, calamansi nyebe, espada, and katuray flowers

Pogita at Malasugi

Burrata—local water buffalo cheese, fiddle ferns, wild mushrooms, Batangas honey ponzu, and crispy soy bean curd

Burrata

If a certain ingredient from the menu is out of season, they alternate the dish or entirely take it out of the menu. “We used to have bone marrow with abuos (ant eggs from Ilocos) in the menu, but I had to change the whole dish as we ran out of abuos. Or, sometimes when we ran out of sampinit, we have to replace it with mulberry,” shares Niño.

Kalel and Niño will soon be going to Ilocos to forage and get inspiration for the new menu, which might be released before the year ends.

Ritual ng Agimat

Agimat’s interesting concept inspired by shamans, potions, and spells attracts customers from different walks of life. Even when they’re just in their soft-opening since April, it has become a go-to place for people entertaining foreign visitors and balikbayans. International bartenders and industry ambassadors curious about the bar’s local flavors have visited the bar. DrinkManila.com got mixed reviews and opinions from visitors, and we’ve also experienced some inconsistencies when we visit, but Kalel and Niño assure that they were on their soft launch and they were mostly tying up loose ends and listening to the remarks of the industry–testing what works in the menu, training the staff regarding product knowledge and service. If you visit today, they are confident that each customer will have a great experience.

It’s the first concept of its kind in the country and it’s been a learning experience for the Agimat team, but they have created something that locals can be proud of. During DrinkManila’s visit to cocktail week in Singapore, bartenders have been asking about the bar and citing it as an example for bar sustainability in Manila. Last August, Kalel did a guest bar shift in Native Bar Singapore (a foraging cocktail bar which is part of the list of 50 Best Bars in Asia and the World) where he proudly introduced Filipino flavors to an international crowd.

“People are noticing Agimat because we’re doing it out of passion, the bar industry is telling us how they love the concept, so we must be doing something right which makes our job very exciting,” Kalel enthuses.

Before the year ends, expect a lot of exciting events in Agimat as Gallery by Chele, a new restaurant concept by Chef Chele Gonzales will be taking over Agimat for a culinary pop-up and Agimat team will be taking over Gallery by Chele’s bar and kitchen for a fun culinary experience. Kalel and Niño are also teaming up for future projects in Siargao and Palawan and will soon be revamping its sister bar Alamat Filipino Pub & Deli.

For more information follow Agimat @agimatbar on Facebook and Instagram.

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