Words by Isabel Aguas | Photos by Chana Garcia
On one fateful day, Marisse Reyes and Peter Annink decided to leave their day jobs to move across the continent to sell popsicles – but not just any popsicles. Only the best kind: booze-infused and surprisingly vegan. Beat hot weather and dull days with artisanal popsicle line, Liq My Stick. The Start samples pops with lots of kick (“liq” is for liquor, after all) and chats about the pair’s aim to inject vegan flair into Manila’s budding health community.
You’ve made the big move from Singapore to Manila to set up a business from scratch. How did all that start out?
Marisse: We moved here in November of 2014 to start a food business. We were gifted a cold press machine for Christmas and we thought it could be something useful for that. After doing some market research, we found that there are a lot of cold-pressed juice companies here so we decided to do something different. My background is in food. I’m a food and travel writer and what I’ve been seeing in other cities is that artisanal popsicles are very, very trendy. It was only a matter of time ’til those trends came here to the Philippines.
And you were brave enough to take the plunge.
M: We started out and didn’t really know if it was going to work. We tried out a few markets and we sold out on our first weekend. So far, it’s something that people seem to be really interested in since we do flavors that are a bit more unusual. We have alcohol pops and are also 100% vegan.
Peter: We have three sugar-free flavors. We don’t add water, just pure organic fruits. No chemicals or additives. Because we sell at organic markets, we also do our grocery shopping there for some of the ingredients. As much as we can, we try to buy produce from there to help the community out. Personally, I feel very happy every time I sell a popsicle because I feel like I’m doing a good deed.
You actually are! Manila isn’t that health conscious a city compared to others. How are you guys adapting so far?
P: It’s very difficult to eat when we go out. Part of the reason we came here is because we thought it was very important to provide people the option of healthier food. As a company, we want to do something that contributes to a better planet. We feel like what we’re doing is meaningful because we’re honest with our ingredients.Vegan food usually has a bad connotation. People say “Oh, it’s so boring” or ” It has no taste,” or “Sugar free? Then it must not taste good.” But we’ve sold about 2,000 popsicles now and we’re so happy that people try it and love it.”
What are your favorite local ingredients to use?
P: My favorite local ingredient is Don Papa Rum. We try to use local stuff as much as possible. Around 90% of our ingredients are local.
M: The mangoes are great – we get them from Mara’s Organic Market in Legazpi Village. They’re from Zambales.
Yum! Which of your flavors are your bestsellers and personal favorites?
M: One of our bestsellers is the Spiced Apple Pie. It has red apples which are slowly stewed with a Dutch spice mixture, cinnamon, and brown sugar. We blend that with coconut cream and vanilla. Then we add vanilla bean-infused Don Papa Rum. The popsicle is garnished with vegan granola. I like that one and our Mango Un-Chia-ned, like Django Unchained (laughs). That’s more for the health-conscious ones. It has water kefir, turmeric, chia seeds, strawberry, and really good mangoes.
P: My favorite is just anything with alcohol in it. (Laughs)
We can’t wait to taste the next big thing you guys come up with. Any teasers?
P: Well, we just started stocking at The Blue Kitchen in Rockwell. Soon at their EDSA Shang and Robinson’s Magnolia branches as well. We’ve developed a special flavor for them: watermelon and raspberry mojito. Oh, and some fun stuff! We’re doing “poptails,” which is a combination of popsicles and cocktail drinks. For example, for our piña colada flavor, we’re mixing cold-pressed pineapple juice and a bit of rum in a mason jar and then topping it with a coconut-mango popsicle. It melts into the mix and makes a great drink.”
Liq My Stick popsicles range from PHP 120 to PHP 150 a piece. They deliver around the Fort, Makati and Rockwell areas free of charge. For inquiries and orders, swing by liqmystick.com or follow them at ‘@liqmystick’ on Twitter and Instagram.