Drink

This Poblacion Bar Crawl Combines Booze and Chocolate

Sweet and bitters come together in these restaurants.
IMAGE Kaye Koo
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The Auro Chocolate Bar Crawl marries everything we love: chocolate, bars, and the dynamic energy of Poblacion.

The crawl addresses the oft-asked and frustrating question of where to eat. Its premise? Book a slot for an exclusive night of progressive dining in at least five participating bars and restaurants. For a fee of P2,500, you are free to indulge in an epic night of drinks and food selections, all of which have been roadtested to taste delicious together.

As each reservation gives you the experience of dining with others, there is also an element of exclusivity with only 30 slots per night, available on Fridays and Saturdays beginning tonight, June 28, 4:30 p.m.

There are certain food items we know go well with chocolate, but only the unexpected should be expected at this bar crawl, whose common thread is Auro Chocolate.

For this round of the crawl, Khao Khai, a casual Thai restaurant with a very laidback Bangkok-market vibe, is the starting point. With a focus on Isan regional cuisine, Khao Khai kicks things off with a chocolate bagoong dip so addicting you'll polish off those fresh-cut green mangoes in a matter of seconds (this also comes in a vegan version). Using Auro Chocolate 77% Dark Chocolate, the blend of sweet, salty, and savory is a symphony in the mouth, which will have you thanking the food gods.

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A bar crawl is not a bar crawl without drinks. Start off the night with the rum-based Bangkok Fire, which has 64% Dark Chocolate on the rim of its glass. Say chon gaewthat's "cheers!" in Thaias you get those last bits of chocolate bagoong into your mouth.

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Photo by Kaye Koo.
Photo by Kaye Koo.

Lampara Neo-Filipino Bistro, the second stop, is known for its unique take on Filipino classics. It slow-cooks a pork belly in sous-vide for 14 hours to create a melt-in-your-mouth texture. The 64% Dark Chocolate and cacao nibs plus cardamom and peanuts complete this bite, and the cocktail wiz at Lampara serves a chocolate-infused Jim Bean Negroni, which is a rather clean complement to the hefty pork belly.

For vegetarians, there is the Surpresa, a ball of bean sprouts, tofu, roasted peanuts, 64% Dark Chocolate, and cacao nibs.

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Photo by Kaye Koo.
Photo by Kaye Koo.
Photo by Kaye Koo.
Photo by Kaye Koo.

(Editor's Note: Due to technical issues, Lampara is currently closed until further notice. In the meantime, bar crawlers should expect extra dishes from the other participating establishments.)

Polilya, arguably one of Don Pedro Street's must-visits, is a global pub with Mexican roots. It adapts the chocolate into a mole, which is Mexico's chocolate-infused answer to our own kare-kare. The deep-fried Hainanese chicken is topped with this mole, in which 77% Dark Chocolate, kesong puti, and cilantro work in perfect harmony.

Accompanying the meal, the Margarita Shots, its signature 100-percent agave liquor base with 32% White Chocolate, are sure to elicit a few oles! Vegetarians will also sing the praises of the vegetable fritters. Think tempura with dark chocolate-infused mole.

Alamat Filipino Pub and Deli, the fourth stop, has become Pob-popular because of its selection of local craft beers, native charcuterie, and pulutan with a twist prepared by Chef Niño Laus.

Here, presentation is bar none. Served in a cacao shell, the Tiyula sa Itum is a beef rib finger on a skewer. It's braised in burnt coconut and Auro tablea using 77% Dark Chocolate. To add tang, an ensaladang adlai at talong and some Auro cacao nibs are served within the cacao shell. Satisfying does not begin to describe this dish.

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Vegetarians are encouraged to use their hands and dig into the Pinais, a rice crisp that looks like a naan, and the Pinakbet Salsa tossed in Auro Dark Chocolate Vinaigrette and Laing.

The liquor of choice is Auro Plata, a mix of gin, white rum, pandan, and cacao liqueur with chocolate sauce.

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Photo by Kaye Koo.

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Photo by Kaye Koo.
Photo by Kaye Koo.
Photo by Kaye Koo.

Everyone will be slightly buzzed by the last stop (the first four drinks all have hard liquor), and Pedro Tap House acknowledges this with comfort-food, a chili dog in a brioche bun.

The Auro Chocolate Chili Cheese Dog, which uses 55% Dark Chocolate, will fill you up. Its chocolate chili made from Pedro Coffee Stout and melted cheese are the finishing touches on your last meal. Vegetarians can take a bite out of a red bean chocolate chili stout shepherd's pie.

Pedro Tap House, which opened this year, has been using beers fresh from the tap ever since they started Pedro Brewcrafters in 2014. For the Auro Midnight Chocolate Stout, it mixes its Pedro Space Out Coffee Stout with bourbon and cream and tops the whole thing with foam made from Auro 55% Dark Chocolate. This dessert-like drink is indeed the perfect ending to a one-of-a-kind bar crawl.

Book reservations at www.aurochocolate.com/barcrawl. The bar crawl begins at Khao Khai at 5 p.m. Participants also get 10 percent off at participating Poblacion restaurants.

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Kaye Estoista-Koo
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