Over the holidays, toasts are usually a thing. Often in a lot of languages: Cheers, some say, or L’Chaim, Prost, Sláinte, Salute, Kampai, Salud … and I didn’t know what was said in the Philippines.
Here’s the thing: there isn’t a direct translation, because the tradition is different.
On Gideon Lasco’s website, he explains how there’s no word for cheers in Tagalog because of the tradition of people drinking from the same glass to mark celebrations and special occasions. That is, unlike having everyone raise their own glass to toast or clink them together, in the Philippines one person becomes the pourer (the tanggero) and fills a glass that gets passed around for everyone to share in a communal way. The custom is called tagay.
Laso even finds a definition of tagay in a 1630 dictionary, and writes:
Then, as now, tagay is defined as the rationing of the liquor around the group using just one cup. Strikingly, this cup is also given a name in the same vocabulario passage, one that is familiar in street corners on Friday nights: tagayan.
The tanggero makes sure that all the drinkers have their fill, that everyone gets their fair share. The drinkers return the favor by drinking bottoms up from the glass, in the custom known as tagay. Tagay means that you trust each other enough to drink from that single glass. Tagay means everyone is united. Tagay is synonymous with goodwill and camaraderie.
No, this isn’t about a crime. It’s about this taste-size bottle of bourbon, Larceny, that a co-worker gave me upon her return from Kentucky over the holidays.
I’m not a big drinker, so when my co-worker said Kentucky bourbon, and I mentioned Makers Mark, she schooled me in the knowledge that real Kentuckians don’t drink Makers Mark. (Who knew? I was introduced to Makers Mark when one of my brothers was in grad school at UK in Lexington. Then again, he wasn’t a real Kentuckian.)
There’s a story behind the name, but I was more interested in the taste. The first thing about Larceny is that amber color looks exactly right. It’s strong, and its aroma has a little sting. Drinking, it comes across as rich, flavorful and buttery — with a bite. And that bite didn’t remind me of Makers Mark; it reminded me of Jack Daniel’s.
I’ve had better. So see you later 2018.
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