Drinks Week: Watermelon Cubes Star in One of The Best Cocktails of 2017

Vengo’s pop-culture inspired cocktails are a fun addition to Carlos Palanca’s drinking scene.

by Rogue.ph, photo by Jello Espino

When news first broke that the people behind Taco Vengo were opening a restaurant in Makati, residents and professionals in the area couldn’t wait to get their hands on their much lauded Mexican-inspired dishes. After opening a quaint container-sized restaurant along United Street, Pasig, Taco Vengo quickly branched out, moving to a much larger (and cooler) location along Williams Street in Kapitolyo—not to mention another, more fast-casual branch in SM Megamall. With this new Makati branch, however—now simply called Vengo—their new line of signature coffee and cocktails is quickly becoming the breakout star.


Vengo’s San Junipero


“We made our name from doing our own thing,” says Gerard Cancio. Along with his co-partner and founder, Ted Manotoc, the two have turned what was once a humble hole-in-the-wall into one of the most popular restaurants today. Amidst the city’s bustling taco scene, Taco Vengo grew to be one of the more popular tacquieras simply by going their own way. “We’re Mexican-inspired,” says Cancio, “but we don’t claim to be authentic.” They’ve gotten attention for their one-of-a-kind tacos, like the crowd favorite shrimp tempura and the pork cheek confit—and their unique approach is spilling over into their newly designed drinks.


Love, Rosie


The drinks at Vengo are some of the most clever in the city today. Their Love, Rosie is perhaps the best example of this: it’s a coffee latte drink with rose syrup… and boba. It’s not your everyday cup of joe for sure, but it works as a surprising novelty as the rose syrup makes the coffee drink closer to milk tea, and the added boba perks up the drink with even more sugar. It’s an unusual drink that’s sure to light up your Instagram feeds. Another standout is their Fade to Black, which takes the traditional latte and adds muscovado sugar syrup and coffee jelly for an earthier sweetness and a more substantial chew.


Vengo’s Daniel San and Allora Spritz


But even more than their coffee, it’s their line of special cocktails that sets Vengo apart from the rest. Perhaps one of the best new drinks of the year is Vengo’s Daniel San, a sake-based drink with soda water, watermelon cubes, and a piece of shiso leaf. It’s as refreshing as it sounds and is a great starter of a drink. The Master of None-inspired Allora Spritz is a terrific aperitif, and the San Junipero, named after the Black Mirror episode, is a tequila-based cocktail that channels the show’s unique neon aesthetic into an affable buzz.


“We made our name from doing our own thing,” says Gerard Cancio.


In taking inspiration from pop culture, Vengo seems to be trying to offer up a friendlier gateway to their meticulously designed cocktails. They’re tapping into the zeitgeist, capitalising on fond memories of media that we’ve consumed for years, and then inviting us to take part in these new potable experiences.