When you say gin in the Philippines, only one brand comes to mind: Ginebra San Miguel. Wherever you are, whatever your status, whether celebrating milestones or unwinding at the end of the day, it has become part of the Filipino’s way of life.
Perhaps this is because Ginebra San Miguel represents more than a drink. It is a testament to the passion, perseverance and the unwavering spirit of the people it has served for almost two centuries.
The Birth of an Icon
The story of Ginebra San Miguel is the story of a drinking culture that began on March 10, 1834. From its humble beginnings in a small distillery in Quiapo, Manila, Ginebra San Miguel, the first-ever gin in the Philippines, was initially produced to cater to the affluent and colonial elite who stayed on in Manila and later shared with other wealthy Filipinos. Back then, Ginebra San Miguel was bottled in 20-liter glass jars wrapped in rattan weave called the dama juana.
The brand, already an award winner as early as the late 19th century, became the most sought-after liquor drink by Filipinos. As Ginebra San Miguel grew in demand, it also became more affordable to the working class Filipino when it was bottled in 1 liter glass containers called the frasco.
Along with modernization and improvements in production technology, Ginebra San Miguel introduced in the 1950s the image of St. Michael the Archangel vanquishing the devil, painted by Fernando Amorsolo (who would become the first National Artist), in its Bilog and Kwatro Kantos bottles.
Since its creation, Ginebra San Miguel has been a witness to the changes that shaped and defined the Philippines. It has withstood the test of time, the challenges of war, the transitions of governments, and even technological developments. Ginebra San Miguel evolved from being a drink of the elite to winning the hearts and taste buds of the masses. Today, Ginebra San Miguel is considered as one of the country’s most respected and iconic brands and has become part of Philippine history, culture and tradition.
A Celebration 185 Years in the Making
As a brand patronized for more than nine generations, Filipinos celebrated Ginebra San Miguel’s 185th anniversary this year as One Ginebra Nation – a celebration highlighted on World Gin Day last June 7, 2019, at Seda Vertis North, Quezon City.
True to its One Ginebra Nation theme, the event featured food and special gin cocktails prepared with ingredients from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Chef Rolando Laudico created sumptuous dishes to pair perfectly with the gin concoctions of top mixologists.
Ginebra San Miguel Calendar Girl, Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, GSM Blue endorser, actress/singer Sue Ramirez and GSM Premium Gin ambassador, comedian/writer Alex Calleja prepared elevated Ginebra San Miguel drink mixes with the world-class mixologists.
Kalel Demetrio paid tribute to Luzon with his Beautiful With A Heart gin concoction, made with Kamias juice and Blue Sampaguita spritz. Enzo Lim created the Carabao Cocktail that highlighted the sweet Mangoes of Visayas. Mindanao’s Tablea and Durian was mixed beautifully in Icy Mariñas’ Shalalala.
While everyone enjoyed the free-flowing gin cocktails and delicious food, the highlight of the night was a musical spectacle chronicling the 185 years of Ginebra San Miguel. Directed by award-winning director Ramil Rodriguez and starring Miss Saigon alumnus, Gerald Santos, the venue was transformed into a theater and the guests were treated to outstanding performances showcasing Ginebra San Miguel in the different periods of Philippine history. Adding excitement to the program, the brand endorsers surprised the crowd with their participation in the show.
One Ginebra Nation
Throughout this 185-year journey, Ginebra San Miguel has certainly been there in good and bad times, being one with the people.
“Ginebra San Miguel mirrors the resilience and the never-say-die spirit of the Filipinos. As the pioneering gin in the Philippines, we take pride in its legacy because the story of Ginebra San Miguel is the story of the Filipino people,” said Ron C. Molina, Ginebra San Miguel Marketing Manager.
The World Gin Day festivity was just the beginning of the One Ginebra Nation Tour. Gin lovers can look forward to promos and special Ginebra San Miguel packages in selected bars nationwide and by checking out www.oneginebranation.com. Moreover, be on the lookout for the One Ginebra Nation Truck touring the country with special treats.
For 185 Years, Ginebra San Miguel has been with the Filipino people no matter what. Today, across the nation, we toast as One Ginebra Nation.