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One Dollar Rum

One of the small delights of foreign travel is finding extraordinary bargains.

Not necessarily what’s cheap, mind you. As Ella observed, some of the extremely cheap food available from Manila street vendors comes with a free case of Hep B. Even the sanitary street food sits out under the blanket of Manila’s thick, gray, choking atmosphere. Cheap doesn’t always mean a bargain.

But it’s hard to go wrong with $1 rum. No, not a $1 shot, nor those little cocktail bottles, but a large flask. At the convenience store just outside our hotel, no less. For the relatively captive audience of hotel patrons, prices are traditionally jacked up, and several items in the store were visibly more expensive than what we saw elsewhere in the city. But nowhere did I see 350ml (about 12 oz.) of rum going for 42 pesos, almost exactly one American dollar. I thought it had something to do with the easy availability of sugar cane, but that same store stocked brandy at a mere 47 pesos a few days later. No fan of rum, I couldn’t resist the brandy, which I like to add to my hot chocolate.

I cracked it open last night. It won’t win any awards for fine distillery, but it was entirely adequate. And, since I didn’t go blind from methyl alcohol or other impurities, I’m going to chalk this one up as a terrific bargain. I should have bought the entire shelf.

No, I take that back: beyond a certain point, the weight you have to haul through an airport isn’t worth the savings. But the thought of a cabinet of $1 flasks of brandy is fun to consider.

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