5 Festive Cocktails For Lunar New Year Celebrations

Food & Drink

January 22 marks the start of the 2023 lunar calendar and Lunar New Year, one of the world’s biggest celebrations, with revelers in China, Korea, Southeast Asia, and throughout a wide multicultural diaspora. This date ushers in the Year of the Rabbit, which will last until February 9, 2024. Like any new year’s celebration, drinks will flow. These are five cocktails to serve on Lunar New Year—or whenever the mood strikes.

The Pink Rabbit was developed by Marvin He and is the featured cocktail for Houston-area restaurant Phat Eatery’s 2023 Lunar New Year festivities. The fruit-forward drink gets bright, tropical notes from passionfruit and dragon fruit juices. “Colors play a significant part in Chinese culture,” says Phat Eatery chef and owner Alex Au-Yeung. “Red is the primary celebratory color—a symbol of many positive meanings, good luck, and good fortune for our upcoming year.”

Pink Rabbit

  • 1.5 ounces Bombay Sapphire gin
  • 1 ounce ginger flower-infused Nigori sake
  • 1 ounce passionfruit juice
  • 1 ounce dragonfruit juice
  • 0.5 ounce grenadine
  • 0.5 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 lemon, freshly juiced
  • Fever Tree club soda, to top
  • Garnish: fresh raspberries and a makrut lime leaf spear

Add all ingredients except the soda into a shaker with ice, then shake until well-chilled. Strain over fresh ice into a tumbler, and garnish with fresh raspberries and a makrut lime leaf spear.

Another Phat Eatery creation, the Malaysian Sling combines coconut rum with carrot, tuermic, pineapple and lime. “Fruity tropical flavors are an excellent foil to rich celebration dishes, and the vibrant yellow hue represents power and prosperity,” says Au-Yeung.

Malaysian Sling

  • 2 ounces Cruzan coconut rum
  • 2 ounces carrot-turmeric juice
  • 1 ounce pineapple juice
  • 0.25 ounce fresh lime juice
  • Coconut water, to top
  • Garnish: 1 dehydrated pineapple wedge

Add rum and juices to a shaker with ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into a highball glass over fresh ice. Top with coconut water, and garnish with a dehydrated pineapple wedge.

Baijiu, a clear spirit distilled from sorghum, wheat, rice or corn, is the national drink of China and a popular choice during new year’s celebrations. It’s traditionally consumed neat, but the last decade has seen more baijiu cocktails, like the Chinese New Year Martini. It features Fenjiu, one of the oldest known baijiu brands, alongside vodka, ginger-and-green-tea-infused dry vermouth and orange bitters.

Chinese New Year Martini

  • 1.75 ounces vodka
  • 0.67 ounces Fenjiu baijiu
  • 0.67 ounces dry vermouth infused with fresh ginger and green tea
  • 2 drops orange bitters
  • Garnish: lemon twist

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice, and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a coupette glass, and garnish with lemon twist.

In honor of the Year of the Rabbit, Kikori whiskey created two special cocktails, both themed for the new year. Kikori was founded by Korean-American entrepreneur Ann Soh Woods and is distilled from local rice in Kumamoto, Japan. Since its launch in 2015, Kikori has quickly earned a place on backbars and in retail shops, and Soh Woods has used this platform to promote AAPI bartenders, artists and causes like GYOPO.

Bunny Money

  • 2 ounces Kikori whiskey
  • 0.5 ounce apple juice
  • 0.5 ounce lemon juice
  • 0.25 ounce carrot juice
  • 0.25 ounce Averna amaro
  • 1 dash orange bitters

Add all ingredients into a shaker, and shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice, and garnish with an orange zest twist.

Rice Rabbit

  • 1.5 ounces glutinous rice washed Kikori whiskey*
  • 0.5 ounce Yuzuri yuzu liqueur
  • 1 ounce umeshu plum liqueur (such as Choya)
  • 3 dashes Miracle Mile yuzu bitters

Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled. Then strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with pickled umeboshi.

*Glutinous rice washed Kikori whiskey: Pulse 1 cup uncooked sweet glutinous rice (such as Koda Farms brand) in a food processor until it’s broken into smaller pieces. Then combine it with a bottle of Kikori whiskey in a container, cover it, and allow it to sit in the refrigerator for three days. Strain it through a coffee filter or nut milk bag and store it in the refrigerator.

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