Turning Giraffe into a bar would prove to be an inspired decision. The loosening up would be best illustrated by the old, cumbersome divider making way for a resplendent, gleaming oval bar that encouraged guests to go around it, make friends, form connections. The concept-change didn’t seem palatable to some of the partners, so those not keen on the bar business bowed out, leaving only the five mentioned above to usher the business into its new chapter. Quicho sought out friends willing to bring in fresh capital. He found a savior in Antonio “Tony Boy” Cojuangco, then PLDT chair, who bought all the shares from the owners on their way out.
Almost at the same time it shifted gears, Louie Cruz joined Giraffe as its PR director upon Quicho’s invitation. Son of J.V., the former Philippine ambassador to Britain, Cruz, a lifestyle columnist of Lopez-era Manila Chronicle, he of the off-the-shoulder blouses, was then best remembered for his Halakhakan parties, a series of soirees he organized after the Aquino assassination in ’83.
“The first thing I did was invite the different groups within my circle of friends through a ‘leader’ of each group,” Cruz tells me. “And those groups represent different fields in society: the fashion designers, the business people, politics, people from entertainment.” Impressively connected, the mix of people on Cruz’s first night was any upscale bar’s dream crowd, among them the designer Budji Layug and socialite Eva Abesamis de Koenigswarter. The rest escapes Cruz now. By evening’s end, everyone had a fabulous time, and the owners present, giddy about the turnout, decided dinner and drinks would be on the house. The memorable evening would plant a seed that resulted in each guest returning the favor by patronizing the place over and over, bringing along with them their equally glamorous friends who would in turn spread the word about the new happening hangout.
While the boldfaced names were a necessary ingredient for the bar’s early success, so were the expats who frequented it. “The Philippines then was at its peak economically, so there were a lot of transient businessmen around the Peninsula, the Shangri-La. Most of them, after work, or after a meeting, eventually ended up in Giraffe,” says JR Isaac, a regular.
Their presence would become an essential ingredient in creating Giraffe’s seductive urbane, international vibe. Coupled with society’s crème de la crème—Baby Fores one night, Diana Jean Lopez the next, Cristina Valdez, Doody Tuason, and Menchu Soriano—it was a combination that attracted the rest of party-crazy Manila: yuppies, preppies, the beautiful people of the PMAP, or the Professional Models Association of the Philippines, Burgos girls and discreet call boys, tomboys and trannies, politicos and businessmen, cougars and DOMs, artistas and their cohorts. Cojuangco would bring Gretchen Barretto, who he was then still wooing. Melanie Marquez and Anna Bayle were at one time regulars. Pepe Smith would be seen partying with production designer Don Escudero. Rustan’s’ Nedy Tantoco would walk in with Mario Katigbak. “Where else do you see senators schmoozing with cross-dressers, expats with boy toys, debutantes with movie stars, and PR queen Louie Cruz doing his famous finger lickin’ dance?” wrote Leviste in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
While Giraffe did start its life as a fancy dining spot, only when it was transformed into a bar did the name eventually suit its own skin. “It finally made sense,” says Louie Cruz. “Because it was like a jungle, with all these predators and prey.” Indeed, no other animal could have symbolized the Giraffe world better, itself a creature of beauty, elegance and allure, but also forever sticking its neck out, the better for calling attention and for spotting the night’s would-be object of desire.
“There was really an undercurrent of sexual energy inside Giraffe,” says Dingcong, “so if you stayed late and drank until 3 A.M., or what we call hora de peligro [hour of peril], it was already kind of a free-for-all, choose your own target.” Even one of the bar’s signature songs expressed outright libidinous declaration. Remember Mousse T’s “Horny ’98”? That was a big hit at Giraffe.
Cruz would be the silent witness to the nightly hunter-and-hunted goings-on, watching the proceedings from his elevated corner by the kitchen, his bottle of Fundador conveniently at arm’s reach. Older men propositioning younger women, dusky women exiting the scene with white men, straight boys going home with gay boys. On some weeknights, when there wasn’t much of a crowd, Cruz would send the best-looking man in the room a drink, with the instruction for the waiter not to mention who sent it. The idea being one more drink would make the guy stay longer, encourage him to drink some more, get him going, and with his confidence boosted introduce himself to a lady, or a group of ladies, thinking one of them his secret admirer. Eventually, he would buy them drinks. And everyone, including the cash register, was happy.
“It was always happy in Giraffe,” says Alta Tan, the former model who worked as public relations officer at Faces before taking on the same hat at the 6750 haunt. “Kung may gulo man, naka-publish na ’yon agad, and it’s always talk of the town.”
Scots left reeling as Canadian whisky named world's best
20 NOVEMBER 2015 • 11:28AM
The Scots are renowned for their whisky but, for the second year in a row, whisky from another country has been named the best in the world.
Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye, a Canadian malt whisky, was awarded 97.5 marks out of 100 in Jim Murray's Whisky Bible, earning it the title of world whisky of the year.
Despite its stellar reputation in the whisky world, not a single Scottish whisky made the top five.
Jim Murray's 2016 World Whiskies of the Year
Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye (Canada) - £47 a bottle
Pikesville Straight Rye (USA) - £33 a bottle
Midleton Dair Ghaelach (Ireland) - £180 a bottle
William Larue Weller Bourbon (Bot.2014) (USA) - £65 a bottle
Suntory Yamazaki Mizunara (Bot.2014) (Japan) - £45 a bottle
Editor of Scotchwhisky.com Becky Paskin said: "While it's disappointing that Scotch has been omitted from Murray's top five again, it's heartening to see that he's included a real mix of whiskies from around the world that aren't all selected from the luxury sphere.
"The absence of Scotch, however puzzling, has no bearing at all on the quality of whisky coming from Scotland. Interest in world whisky is increasing and and drinkers are likely to want to experiment with the medley of styles and flavours available.
"It's important to remember that, whether you agree with Murray's top five or not, this is just one man's opinion. My advice would be to go out and taste these whiskies for yourself."
Despite not winning the coveted whisky of the year award, Scotland's Glenfarclas 1957 Family Cask 2110 did win the single cask of the year award.
Whisky expert Murray tasted more than 1000 whiskies before deciding on the Crown Royal and called it a masterpiece: "Rye, that most eloquent of grains, not just turning up to charm and enthral but to also take us through a routine which reaches new heights of beauty and complexity.
"To say this is a masterpiece is barely doing it justice."
Tom Sandham, one half of the Thinking Drinkers, said: "The news of a Canadian winner might surprise some, but it shouldn't.
"The country has extraordinary whisky heritage. And rye is one of the original grains in North American whiskey production, it has long been re-asserting itself with connoisseurs and leading bartenders who use it in classic cocktails. So to see it break through here is evidence of the grains's resurgent popularity.
"But remember this is only one view, and a nice bit of publicity for man, brand and whisky as a whole, but the only way you'll determine what you like is if you try things. Lots of different things. The great thing about whisky is that a wider demographic is now engaging, which is excellent because there are hundreds of stunning whiskies being made all around the world right now."
Yvonne Briese, Vice President of Crown Royal said: "Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye showcases the rye whisky that has been such an integral component of the Crown Royal Deluxe blend since 1939. This is a testament to the unbelievable blending and distilling that’s been taking place in Gimli for over 75 years.
"We are thrilled that Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye has been named World Whisky of the Year."
Some whisky connoisseurs were sceptical of the win, with specialist whisky author Charles MacLean telling The Times the success of foreign winners was a marketing ploy: "You should compare like with like. These whiskies from around the world are all made to be different. Canadian whisky allows for all sorts of additives, such as prune juice to sweeten it.
"This is forbidden in Scotch, which has strictly defined terms of how it can be made. It must have the flavour derived only from the raw materials: barley, water and yeast. Nothing may be added."
However, Murray defended his choice robustly: "Last year people were shocked when I gave [Japanese whisky] Yamazaki the award - until they tasted it. Then they saw it was not the affront to Scotch they first thought and something truly extraordinary.
"This year, doubtless there will be many more eyebrows raised because rarely is Canada mentioned when it comes to the world's top whiskies. But, again, I have no doubt people finding the bottling I tasted will be blown away with this whisky's uncompromising and unique beauty. It certainly puts the rye into Canadian rye."
The winners in full
Scotch Whisky of the Year - Glenfarclas 1957 Family Casks #2110
Single Malt of the Year (Multiple Casks) - Glen Grant 10yo
Single Malt of the Year (Single Cask) - Glenfarclas 1957 Family Casks #2110
Scotch Blend of the Year - The Last Drop 50yo
Scotch Grain of the Year - Clan Deny Cambus 1987 25yo #9320
Scotch Vatted Malt of the Year - Compass Box The Lost Blend
SINGLE MALT SCOTCH
No Age Statement (Multiple Casks) - Ardberg Supernova 2009
No Age Statement (Runner Up) - Laphroaig An Cuan Mor
10 Years & Under (Multiple Casks) - Glen Grant 10yo
10 Years & Under (Single Cask) - Saar Gruwehewwel
11-15 Years (Multiple Casks) - Gordon and MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Strathmill 2002
11-15 Years (Single Cask) - SMWS 4.199 (Highland Park 1999)
16-21 Years (Multiple Casks) - Old Pulteney 21yo
16-21 Years (Single Cask) - Old Malt Cask Highland Park 1998
22-27 Years (Multiple Casks) - Glen Moray Port Cask Finish
22-27 Years (Single Cask) - Wemyss Kirsch Gateau (Bunnahabhain)
28-34 Years (Multiple Casks) - Tomatin 1988 25yo Batch 2
28-34 Years (Single Cask) - Glenfarclas 1985 Family Casks #2593