What is Lambanog?
Coconut is everywhere, from water to the swish-in-your-mouth-oil the trend is on, and we discovered… as a liquor. So, if the thought of trying a spirit or cocktail made from coconuts is more intriguing than Malibu, then Lambanog is for you. It’s summer so if you’re trying to mix it up with something tropical but unique and stronger than tiki culture you’ll love. Let’s dive in!
Lambanog is defined as a palm liquor that is sometimes considered an Arrack, which is a distillate that is produced in Southeast Asia or India.
We taught you all about it way back when. The big debate here is whether or not Lambanog is a palm wine, Arrack liquor, or spirit. Our research cited it as palm liquor but the sources seem to be misconstrued. While delicious, it is not for the faint of heart. As it has an ABV of 40-45%. After just one distillation, it can go up as high as 83% ABV. Talk about a powerhouse!
It may be incredibly strong, but the taste is nice and smooth, which is why it has been compared to Japanese Sake. It comes from the fermented sap of a coconut tree and is then distilled to make it more potent.
Originally, it was only offered as a pure liquor, nowadays it is made in many flavors to attract the younger generation. Some of the most popular flavors include (believe it or not) bubble gum, mint, jackfruit, cherry, strawberry, and apple.
It has a clean and crisp taste with a little hint of sweetness. It has been compared to vodka that was steeped with some type of dried fruit. Traditionally, it is consumed as a shot, but since it has such a clean and subtle taste, it is perfect for mixing in cocktails as well.
It is commonly mixed with lychee or citrus juices- popular mixes we have seen in our research! We found some bartenders who even make a Lambanog Martini with 2 ounces of Amaretto and 2 ounces of Lambanog served over ice.
A Brief History-
Lambanog originated in the Luzon island in the northern Philippines goes way back to the pre-colonial era.
It’s a simple story really, it all started with farmers on coconut plantations who were making Lambanog and then each generation continued to pass down the handwritten recipe to the next generation.
The coconut sap is collected from the trees and then placed in bamboo receptacles. It was then placed through a cooking process that creates Tuba, also known as a coconut toddy. We taught you more about Palm Toddy when we discussed Feni last week!
Back in the day, Tuba was consumed by many as a social drink, but it was also included in many religious rituals that were held by the Babaylan shamans.
It was during the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines, somewhere around 1574, that the technology for distillation was adopted by Filipinos and social drinking became a popular thing. Drinking socially, to this day, is still an incredibly important part of Filipino culture.
As for productions, the main places that produce Lambanog today include the provinces of Laguna, Batangas, and Quezon, with Quezon being the lead producer of the liquor. These are all areas where coconuts are abundant. Three of the largest distillers of the country are located in Quezon: Capistrano Distillery, Mallari Distillery, and Buncayo Distillery.
From cinnamon to grape to cherry, the flavor options are endless. WIth that being said, many still love enjoying this liquor in the traditional, pure way, without any flavors added and taken as a shot. To each their own!
Lambanog is described in many ways, which can be confusing for some.
It is sometimes described as a coconut vodka, a coconut wine, and many call it the Filipino moonshine. No matter which way you choose to describe this tropical drink, the clear and crisp taste remains the same.
If you have never tried Lambanog, we hope this convinced you to add this to your list of liquors you must try.
We suggest trying it in the traditional way, but then also giving all of the unique flavors that are available on the market today a try as well. With so many flavor options to choose from, you are sure to find something you love.
Thanks for reading, and as always...