Who would’ve thought that cocktails can come in bottles?

As the Filipino drinking culture evolves occasion per occasion, and bottle per bottle, it isn’t just about beer and hard drinks anymore. Bottled cocktails have entered the drinking scene, and they’re performing better than anyone could have thought.

Niko Tiutan, 35cl Cocktail Co.’s beverage director, says that in recent years more Filipinos have been drinking alcohol not just to get drunk but to enjoy the beverage. There’s a better appreciation for alcoholic drinks now that consumers have more knowledge and been exposed to more types of beverages. 

The role of time in cocktail-making

Along with partner Alex Atienza, Tiutan initially thought of making uniquely crafted bottled cocktails only as a creative outlet. Besides channeling his creative energy (and handing them out as gifts, too), the cocktail creations also came in handy during spontaneous gatherings when they needed to serve drinks. “Limiting the [number of] bottles we create allows us to create consistently as well as to constantly conceptualize new beverages and pursue our end goal of experimentation and exploration,” says Tiutan.

35cl Co. does not believe that operating full time and all-year round would be good for their business. They follow a biannual schedule, which gives them the break they need to research, experiment and improve on the next collection while pursuing other interests. Although having some “downtime” doesn’t seem ideal for any business, it’s what works best for them. It’s creativity, not speed, that plays a vital role in their cocktails anyway.

“Everything is priced just the same so that people only have to worry about what flavor entices them instead of what’s cheaper or more expensive,” says Tiutan.

The brand is all about being simple, direct and impactful, hence the need to concoct one-of-a-kind flavors that represent their vision and resonate with customers. Having only launched in July 2019, the two collections they have released showcase six flavors that tap familiar food and drinks (grapefruit, coconut, caramel popcorn, chocolate, eggnog and hibiscus) grouped into three categories: sour, experimental, and built. “Everything is priced just the same so that people only have to worry about what flavor entices them instead of what’s cheaper or more expensive,” says Tiutan.

Taking into consideration labor and production costs, all the cocktails are priced at P950. Following their small production setup, Tiutan and Atienza were able to yield 120 bottles of each variant for the first two collections. 

Each of 35cl Cocktail Co.’s “straightforward yet thoughtful” drinks includes the company’s origin story, preparation instructions, a guide on aroma, tasting notes and recommended servings to ensure that their vision translates into a memorable drinking experience. Considering that the past releases served as somewhat of a testing ground, their products did better than expected based on positive customer feedback.

Creativity (and empathy) in a bottle

35cl simply means 350ml, the content volume of each of the bottled cocktails. The brand wants to encapsulate Japanese beer brewers’ thoughtfulness and empathy—seen in for instance, the braille labels on their beverages so that visually impaired individuals won’t consume alcoholic products by accident. 35cl Cocktail Co. even adopted a similar braille logo to drive home the message.

It’s creativity, not speed, that plays a vital role in their cocktails, anyway—and one needs to be well-inspired (and rested) to ensure just that.

“With the shift in preference for drinking at home, such as having wine or G&T nights with close friends, we believe that this new trend has created a market for our bottled cocktails. We believe that people are developing a better palate for good cocktails and are more willing to try different flavors. Given this, we also think that low-ABV cocktails or even mocktails could work in the Philippine market in the future, as it has in other countries,” says Tiutan.

35cl Cocktail Co. is looking forward to a more dynamic cocktail culture in the Philippines. Their future collections promise new concepts as they plan to work on lesser known ingredients while consistently striking a perfect balance among different flavor profiles. But more than anything, each of their meticulously crafted beverages will remain to be a product of creativity and empathy—with a little bit of alcohol.

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