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Antonio Lai - VEA Lounge

Drink this: Dear Jade

Antonio Lai, co-founder of VEA Lounge, tells us about putting baijiu to use in Dear Jade, one of his signature cocktails

Written by
Douglas Parkes
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People always think baijiu is something to get super drunk on – it’s a 57 percent spirit, after all. What customers never expect is that baijiu can enhance flavour so well. Its flavour profile is unique and it can last a very long time on your palate. That’s what makes it so good, even if it makes for a challenge when creating a cocktail.

I first started on this cocktail when a baijiu brand asked if VEA was interested in a collaboration. We began with an east-meets-west idea to reflect Hong Kong and tried to see what we could pair the baijiu with. Tequila was a no. Mezcal wasn’t bad – the smokiness helped. Rum is too sweet. Gin’s maybe a little bit too complex. Eventually we settled on brandy, as the way the French make it is quite similar to baijiu. That’s when we started trying different types of brandy. After sampling a great variety, we settled on pear brandy. We don’t use much baijiu, just a dash, but add the brandy on top and you get a really strong aroma that goes together really well.

Naturally, the cocktail is popular with people from the Mainland. But a lot of other tourists are curious about it too. They’re the ones who have never tried baijiu before but they’ve heard about it. They say, ‘Oh, this baijiu stuff is actually really nice!’ And I reply, ‘sure, mixed in a cocktail like this it is. But drink it non-stop and it’ll be a different story’.

MAKE IT YOURSELF
Ingredients:
10ml baijiu
100 high proof vodka
30ml pear brandy
45ml champagne
45ml pear purée
15ml lemon juice
10g five spices
50g peppercorn
500g sugar
Four drops cardamom tincture

Instructions:

1. Soak the cardamom in the vodka for as long as possible. Leave it for several weeks if you can.
2. Mix the five spice, peppercorns and sugar together in about 500ml of water and bring it to the boil. Then leave to sit and cool. This will create a syrup.
3. Combine all the other ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake.
4. Pour syrup into the glass first, then add the shaken ingredients. Top with champagne.

Drink it here

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