It takes years to mix a great cocktail. The invention of Davide Boncimino’s Fix in the Mind, for instance, began in his childhood.
The half-Italian, half-Filipino head bartender of Mr. Fogg’s Residence, a London hotspot in the center of Mayfair, spent his first summers in his grandmother’s home in Taguig. The memories of these summers inspired Boncimino to create a cocktail that would win him the title Don of Cocktails, champion of Don Papa Rum’s first-ever cocktail competition in the United Kingdom, aptly called It’s a Don Deal.
“Even if I was a kid, there were certain flavors and aromas fixed in my mind. So, for the drink I only used ingredients that reminded me of home,” Boncimino explained before deconstructing the elements he mixed with Don Papa to create his winning drink.
“I used rice juice – I know that sounds weird. It’s a really good blend of white and brown rice as well as almonds. I use rice because it reminds me of how I used to have rice with chocolate for breakfast — champorado – then rice with beef or fish or chicken for lunch and dinner. Rice is everywhere here. It goes with any kind of dish. I also use a homemade monkeynut syrup. They are a particular kind of nuts that I use because they remind me of snacktime which usually meant pandesal with peanut butter. Then I use coconut milk which is another ingredient that’s really easy to find here. It’s also really healthy and its so refreshing for this weather. I use crème de banana, a banana liquor, because of course again bananas are very easily found here. I remember how banana leaves are used for everything. I used to eat bananas grilled with sugar on the streets with my lolo. It was the perfume of those grilled bananas that I really wanted to incorporate into my drink.”
Although he had hoped to use calamansi juice, Boncimino employed lime juice to balance out the cocktail’s sweet flavors. He topped it off by serving the drink in a smoked empty coconut shell with bay leaves and cinnamon on top of a stand framed by pineapple leaves. On the side, Boncimino included fresh torched bananas on a stick with white sugar sprinkled on top.
Don Papa international brand ambassador and competition judge Matthias Cadeac d’Arbaud was immediately impressed. “As a judge, I need the story of why this drink, how you did it, who are you, and what you can do with Don Papa,” d’Arbaud said. “I need something technical but not prententious. Or stupid… The balance is the main point, of course, and innovation technique.” Boncimino’s drink hit all the marks and presented a real connection between bartender, story, and drink.
Winning the competition brought Boncimino back to the Philippines to do a cocktail tour of Metro Manila and other key cities in the country. In early December, the pair began at popular establishments around Manila’s larger business districts — Bank Bar, Finders Keepers, Rocket Room, and ABV — to hold workshops and guest sessions, and premiere Fix in the Mind to drinkers who would know its parts best.
“Filipinos are travelers, and they’re learning things abroad and taking them home,” d’Arbaud commented.
At the same time, d’Arbaud noted how many great things come from the Philippines that cannot be found anywhere else: “When I do conventions, there are 210 booths of good London dry gin. Don Papa is the only booth doing black molasses-based rum made in the Philippines. We feel like the black sheep at fairs like these.”
Davide Boncimino’s A Fix in the Mind can be made with:
50ml Don Papa rum
10ml Edmond Briottet Crème de Banane
10ml Coconut milk
10ml Morning Rice drink
5ml Fresh lime juice
15ml homemade monkey nuts syrup
Pour all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake. Pour all ingredients into a glass and garnish with dried banana.