Cheer up, Dry January is nearly over and right on cue on the celebratory front is Chinese New Year. Although the official date is 31 January, the observance continues in earnest throughout the weekend so be sure to have something lined up to ease you out of the detox in style

You could try dipping into the first Baiju Cocktail Week. What’s baiju we hear you cry? Good question. We’ll admit it’s not something that trips off the tongue when you’re thinking cocktails but as the distilled white spirit which is brewed using ancient techniques is popular with the Chinese community, it seems like the perfect time to give it a try.

From 31 January to 13 February bars including Evans & Peel, Kench and Bibesy, Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Parlour, Peony and Steam and Rye will be serving a selection of inspiring cocktails using baijiu as the base. To give you a taster Marlowe Harris’s offering at Evan’s and Peel includes the Thirsty Dragon, a light, easy-to-drink punch blending Shui Jing Fang (baijiu), Pineau des Charentes, Flagg Punsch, Spanish bitters, pink lady apple juice, citrus and fresh orange.

If you’d rather stay with something more familiar, keep it Chinese and go for a beer. Yes, really. Tsingtao Beer is brewed with rice and Laoshan Mountain spring water. Try it with dim sum and spicy Chinese dishes.

Alternatively, go for a cocktail. One of the simplest is this G&T, given a taste of the Orient with a gin infused with lemongrass and black peppercorns.

Sapphire East Gin & Tonic Reimagined

1.5oz Bombay Sapphire East Gin
3oz Fever-Tree Tonic water

Build ingredients with ice in a highball glass. Garnish with a lemongrass stalk, mint sprig, lime slice, orange twist and juniper berries.

The Cocktail Lovers say

31 January is the beginning of Year of the Horse. Prepare for 365 days of good health and prosperity by following these tips from the folk at Tsingtao beer:

Clean Your Home – according to Chinese tradition, cleaning the house will ‘sweep’ away bad luck’ which may have accumulated inside over the past year. A clean house is ready for good luck to start entering again.

Decorate – red lanterns, streamers and balloons are ideal, red is the main celebratory colour and symbolises good luck. Try to arrange decorations in groups of eight, a lucky number in Chinese folklore.

Cook – create your own Chinese cuisine at home. For recipes see:

Firecrackers – to really make your party go with a bang, set off some firecrackers, which are said to scare bad spirits away.

This week we’re loving

If you think all vermouths are the same, you obviously haven’t tried to La Quintinye Vermouth Royal. Made from a blend of 28 plants and spices with Pineau des Charentes and Artemisia at its heart the three styles (Rouge, Extra Dry and Blanc) can be sipped over ice or enjoyed in a cocktail. Our favourite is the Rouge. It’s just what your Negroni has been waiting for.

Available by the end of February from all major drinks outlets.

As featured in The Independent Dish of the Day blog 30/1/2014


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