Filipino Alcoholic Drinks and Drinking Culture

Filipinos are known alcoholic drinkers, and this drinking culture are sometimes immortalized in popular culture in songs such as Laklak or Inuman Na that surround the theme on getting inebriated.

Importance of drinking culture in Filipino society

Drinking culture has played an important role in Filipino society for centuries, and it continues to be a significant part of the country’s cultural heritage. The importance of drinking culture in the Philippines can be seen in several ways:

  • Socialization: In the Philippines, drinking is often associated with socializing and building relationships with others. Drinking is seen as a way to connect with friends, family, and colleagues and to strengthen bonds between individuals and communities.
  • Celebrations: Drinking is also an integral part of many celebrations in the Philippines, such as fiestas, weddings, and birthdays. It is a way to mark important milestones and to express joy and happiness.
  • Traditions: The act of sharing drinks, toasting, and drinking songs are deeply rooted in Filipino traditions and customs. These practices serve to reinforce social norms, respect for elders and authority figures, and other cultural values.
  • Identity: Filipino drinks and drinking culture are a reflection of the country’s diverse cultural heritage. The use of local ingredients and the fusion of various influences, including Spanish, Chinese, and indigenous Filipino, have resulted in a unique and distinct Filipino drinking culture.
  • Tourism: Filipino drinks and drinking culture also serve as a draw for tourists who seek to experience the country’s unique culinary and cultural offerings. This has helped to promote the country’s tourism industry and to showcase its rich cultural heritage.

Filipino parties for birthdays or fiestas or simply a gathering of friends could feature beer, spirits or cocktail drinks.


Beer is the most preferred alcoholic drink in the Philippines and provides about 70% share of all alcoholic drinks market in terms of volume in 2005. In fact, between 2003 and 2004, the Philippines recorded the fastest growth rate in the world. The most famous brand is San Miguel Pale Pilsen. A lighter variation San Mig Light, is also popular, mostly preferred by women and younger drinkers while Colt 45 and Red Horse beer is favored by hard drinkers. Other beer brands in the Philippines include Beer na Beer, Red Horse, Lone Star, Lone Star Light, Lone Star Ultra, Carlsberg, San Miguel Superdry, San Mig Strong Ice, and Coors Light.


The Ginebra San Miguel brand is the most well known brand. It’s the most selling gin brand in the world, although it is mainly sold in the Philippines. The Ginebra San Miguel brand even earned some monikers for their gin products. The small round bottle is called “Bilog” (round) for its shape, and the bigger square shaped bottle is called “Kwadro Kantos” (Four Corners). GSM Blue is a variant of Ginebra San Miguel gin which is said to be smoother in taste. Gin Kapitan and London Gin brands are also sold in the market, but nowhere near the sales of Ginebra San Miguel. Gin has also come to be known as “Gin-Bulag” (Bulag is Tagalog for “blind”) since it is said that drinking too much gin would make you go blind.

Rum and Brandy

Tanduay is the most popular brand of rum. As with the gin, Tanduay bottles have also earned monikers of their own. The smaller bottle is called “lapad” (wide) because of their distinctive wide-bodied bottles. The tall round bottles are often called “tore” or “long neck”. Emperador is a close second to the popularity of the Tanduay brand. The Tondena Premium Rum and Anejo 65 Rum brands are also sold but is not as commonly known as Tanduay nor Emperador. Barcelona, Genoroso, and Gran Matador are the popular brands of brandy.

Other liquors are also sold in the Philippines, but gin, beer, rum, and brandy are the most popular alcoholic or “hard” drinks as locals sometimes refer them to.


  • San Miguel Beer
  • Red Horse
  • Carlsberg
  • Lone Star

Rum and Brandy

  • Tanduay
  • Añejo Rum 65
  • Emperador
  • Barcelona
  • Gran Matador
  • Primera


  • Ginebra


  • Cossack
  • Antonov

Non-alcoholic Beers

  • Cali
  • Q-Shandy

Traditional drinks and local brands

Local drinks in the Philippines are often sourced from widely-available crops such as coconuts, rice and sugar cane.

Tuba or palm wine is a well-known traditional drink that’s derived from coconut trees and extracted using bamboo tubes (sugong). Collected sap is fermented and produces a sweet liquor with a strong jolt.

While tuba is packaged in transparent glass containers and sold in neighborhood stores, it is not commercially produced and therefore has limited reach. On the other hand, lambanog is more well-known as it is available in commercial packaging. It is produced out of distilled tuba and is more popular in Southern Luzon region. Other examples of Philippine wine derived from local sources are rice wines called pangasi by the Visayans and tapuy by the Igorots. The basi by the Ilocanos is a wine derived from sugar cane juice.

Vino Kulafu is a type of Chinese wine more popular in the Visayas and Mindanao region. According to its maker Ginebra San Miguel, its formulation includes 12 authentic Chinese botanical herbs, and provides various health benefits. Competing brands are Fighter Wine and Siu Hoc Tong which are popular notably among the older drinkers especially in provinces where these products are commonly sold.

Original Filipino Alcoholic Concoctions

Gin Pomelo / Ginpom
Gin Pomelo is a cocktail made out of gin such as Ginebra “bilog”, pomelo juice powder such as pomelo-flavored powder mix from Tang juice brand, and crushed ice. It became the drink of choice for the younger drinkers back in the late 1990’s when Tang introduced its “Litro Pack” line of powdered Juices.

This simple concoction is made up of two 500ml bottles of Red Horse beer mixed with one small bottle of gin. It is then poured into a large pitcher and a big chunk of ice is added into it. Some put two “Storck” brand menthol candies into the mix. It was called expired since drinkers say it tastes like “expired beer”.

Kagatan is the Tagalog word for “Biting”. But biting has nothing to do with this cocktail. It was called “Kagatan” because the ingredients for this drink are Kape (kape, coffee), Gatas (gatas, milk) and Tanduay (the Tanduay brand of rum).

So called because this drink was apparently invented in the Island of Boracay. It is the said to be the Filipino version of Bailey’s Irish Cream. It is made up of rum, beer, chocolate malt powder, evaporated milk, gin, and finely ground peanuts.

Perhaps taking the cue from one’s appearance after drinking this drink mix, mistisa is a combination of Tanduay rhum, Red Horse beer, Sprite and ice. Mix them all and you got this drink to enjoy in a “tagay” session with Filipino friends.

This drink is a mixture of Antonov vodka and Funchum or Zest-O orange flavor powdered drink. Mix together and add a generous portion of ice for a great drinking sensation on a hot and humid evening.

Drinking with friends. Source: Flickr/

Filipino drinking culture

The drinking age in the Philippines is 21, although it’s not too difficult for certain drinks to reach teenage drinkers due to loose enforcement of the law.

Filipino women often don’t consume alcoholic drinks. If in a party or a social gathering, they may prefer cocktail drinks, soda/softdrinks or fruit juices.

Excessive drinking can sometimes happen and result in violent outcomes whether at bars or backyards. Ads on television and radio often remind consumers to drink moderately.

In a group setting (tagay — literally “pour”), participants surround a round of drinks with a few glasses, pulutan (beer matches) such as leftover meat, street foods, cicharon or crispy pata. Someone will act as “gunner” or a trustworthy drink pourer who ensures everyone gets a fair share of the bounty.

While hot topics are discussed or songs are being performed drinks are poured in order of seating arrangement. While “gunner” is a significant role during a drinking spree, others often get monickers depending on how they behave during the session.

  • The Reporter – one who never runs out of news or gossips to share and becomes the focal point of attention.
  • The Silent Killer – one who doesn’t seem to get intoxicated despite downing several rounds of liquor.
  • The Singing Diva – one who grabs the microphone in a karaoke and gets to sing most if not all songs.
  • The Crying Lady – one who can easily get sentimental when drunk and cries during the session.
  • The Caregiver – one who assists someone who gets wasted, accompanying pals to the bathroom to vomit.
  • The Ninja – one who used to be sitted next to you but suddenly disappears without informing the group.
  • The Dog – one who shows up even though not invited to the drinking session.
  • The Call Center Agent – one who speaks fluent English when inebriated.

Socializing over drinks

Socializing over drinks is a common practice in Filipino culture, and it refers to the act of consuming alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages in a social setting. Drinking is often seen as a way to connect with others, build relationships, and strengthen bonds.

When Filipinos socialize over drinks, it usually involves gathering with friends, family, or colleagues at a bar, restaurant, or other social venues. People often order and share drinks, such as beer, cocktails, or other beverages, and engage in conversation, laughter, and storytelling. In Filipino culture, sharing drinks is often seen as a way to show camaraderie and to demonstrate a sense of unity.

In addition to promoting social connections, socializing over drinks also serves as a way to relax and unwind after a long day. It is a way to escape from the stress of work and everyday life and to enjoy the company of others in a more relaxed and casual environment.

However, it is important to note that responsible drinking should be observed during socializing over drinks. This means drinking in moderation and being aware of the negative effects of excessive alcohol consumption. Filipinos generally have a culture of respect for authority figures, and thus, many people may choose to avoid drinking altogether in certain situations, such as in the presence of elders or at formal events.

Overall, socializing over drinks is an important part of Filipino culture, as it serves as a way to build relationships, relax, and enjoy the company of others. However, it is important to practice responsible drinking and to respect cultural norms and values.

Respect for elders during social drinks

In Filipino culture, respect for elders and authority figures is deeply ingrained and is a core value that is taught from a young age. This value extends to many areas of life, including social interactions, family relationships, and work settings, and is particularly evident in the way Filipinos conduct themselves during socializing over drinks.

When Filipinos are socializing over drinks, they are expected to show respect to the elder or the person of higher authority present in the group. This is usually done by addressing them with proper titles, such as “po” or “opo,” and deferring to their opinions or preferences. The elder or authority figure is often given the first serving of drinks or the choice of what to order, as a sign of respect.

Additionally, Filipinos are taught to avoid causing embarrassment or loss of face to elders or authority figures, particularly in public settings. This means that people may choose to refrain from drinking or to limit their consumption of alcohol when in the presence of elders or authority figures, as a sign of respect.

Overall, respect for elders and authority figures is an important aspect of Filipino culture and is particularly evident during socializing over drinks. By showing respect and deference to elders and authority figures, Filipinos demonstrate their commitment to maintaining harmonious relationships and upholding cultural values.

Drinking traditions and celebrations in the Philippines

Drinking traditions and celebrations are an integral part of Filipino culture. Here are some of the most common drinking traditions and celebrations in the Philippines:

  1. Fiesta: A fiesta is a traditional celebration held in honor of a patron saint. These celebrations often involve large gatherings of friends and family, and alcohol is typically consumed during the festivities.
  2. Weddings: Weddings are a major event in Filipino culture, and they are often celebrated with a feast and drinks. Guests typically bring gifts and offer toasts to the newlyweds.
  3. Birthdays: Birthdays are another occasion that is typically celebrated with food and drinks. It is common for family and friends to gather for a birthday celebration, and alcoholic beverages may be consumed during the festivities.
  4. Christmas: Christmas is one of the biggest celebrations in the Philippines, and it is often marked by the consumption of traditional holiday drinks such as hot chocolate and rice wine.
  5. New Year’s Eve: New Year’s Eve is a time for celebration and reflection in the Philippines, and it is common to consume alcoholic beverages during the countdown to midnight.
  6. Sharing drinks: Sharing drinks is a common practice in Filipino culture, and it is a way to show camaraderie and to demonstrate a sense of unity. It is common for a group to share a single glass or bottle of alcohol, taking turns drinking from it as a sign of friendship and respect.

Excessive drinking and its negative impact to Filipinos

Excessive drinking in the Philippines, as in any other country, can have negative effects on individuals and society as a whole. Here are some of the negative effects of excessive drinking in the Philippines:

  1. Health problems: Excessive drinking can lead to a range of health problems, including liver disease, cancer, and heart disease. Alcoholism is a serious issue in the Philippines, and it is one of the leading causes of death in the country.
  2. Social problems: Excessive drinking can also lead to social problems, such as domestic violence, sexual assault, and other forms of violent behavior. It can also lead to loss of productivity and decreased work performance, which can have negative impacts on the economy.
  3. Road accidents: Drunk driving is a serious problem in the Philippines, and it is one of the leading causes of road accidents and fatalities. Drinking and driving can also result in legal problems, such as fines, imprisonment, and the loss of driving privileges.
  4. Financial problems: Excessive drinking can also lead to financial problems, as individuals may spend a large portion of their income on alcohol and other related expenses. This can result in a lack of money for basic necessities, such as food, housing, and healthcare.
  5. Cultural and moral degradation: Excessive drinking can also have negative impacts on cultural and moral values, as it can lead to the erosion of social norms and ethical standards. It can also contribute to a lack of respect for authority and elders, which are important values in Filipino culture.

Overall, excessive drinking can have negative effects on individuals and society in the Philippines. It is important for individuals to practice responsible drinking and to be aware of the potential negative consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. It is also important for the government and other stakeholders to implement policies and programs that promote responsible drinking and address the negative effects of alcohol abuse.


Filipino drinks and drinking culture are an important part of the country’s social fabric and cultural heritage. From traditional drinks like coconut wine and beer to modern cocktails and imported wines, the Philippines has a rich and diverse drinking culture that reflects the country’s history and traditions.

Drinking is an important social activity in the Philippines, and it is often a way to celebrate important occasions, to socialize with friends and family, and to show respect to elders and authority figures. Filipino drinking traditions and celebrations are characterized by warmth, hospitality, and camaraderie, and they play an important role in strengthening relationships and promoting social cohesion.

While Filipino drinking culture has many positive aspects, excessive drinking can have negative effects on individuals and society as a whole. It is important for individuals to practice responsible drinking and to be aware of the potential negative consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. It is also important for the government and other stakeholders to implement policies and programs that promote responsible drinking and address the negative effects of alcohol abuse.

Overall, Filipino drinks and drinking culture are an important and vibrant part of the country’s identity and heritage. They reflect the richness and diversity of Filipino culture and traditions, and they serve as a way to bring people together and celebrate life’s milestones.

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