Creating an exceptional cocktail is not just about the mix but it’s also about the addition of ingredients that bring a more personal touch to the drink. They can tell a story about who you are and where you are from, bridge cultural divides and global boundaries.
And that is the case with the new cocktail, Foreigners Tonic, a drink designed by Hong Kong native, Christine Lam from Employees Only in Sydney.
“To me, this drink just symbolises Hong Kong,” she said “but if I was going to describe the flavour then it’s floral and a little bit bitter. Really, it’s sweet and sour like a tonic and just that little bit citrusy, so I suppose it’s my version of a Gin & Tonic.”
The drink incorporates Five Flower Tea, which is a traditional herbal tea and wellness tonic drunk commonly in Hong Kong. Lam describes the Tea as having properties of Chrysanthemum and Chamomile which Lam says really brings out the flavours in the gin.
“The Five flower Tea and the Bitter Goard both add an earth character into the cocktail, so I think they work really well together.
“I really like the citrus profile of Tanqueray 10. It’s an extremely good quality Gin with an amazing distillation process and a great story behind the brand. Combine all that together and that is why I love the Gin”.
Five Flower Tea
Thought of traditionally as a cooling tea, due to it’s floral yet bitter flavour, The Five Flower Tea is available in Chinese grocery stores.
“Just boil it down with water,” said Lam “then you just add a little sugar and cirtic acid to balence the sweet and sour.
While the Tea is traditionally served uncarbonated, Lam believes that using a soda Syphone or soda stream and adding the bubbles allows the flavour to be better carried to the palette.
Bitter Gourd & Grapefruit Bitters
For the bitters, Lam points out that the only ingredients needed are the Bitter Gourd (which you can find dried at Chinese grocery stores, Grapefruit peel and Vodka.
“Just let everything seep in Vodka for 24 hours, then all the citrus, vegital and bitters flavours will come out and then you strain it up.
Adding to the experience, Lam has chosen to use a traditional bowl that the tea would normally be served in as her glass.
90mls (3oz) Five Flowers Tea
45ml (1.5oz) Tanqueray Gin
5 drops of Bitter Gourd & Grapefruit Bitters
Add the Gin to the bowl or glass, then add the Bitter Gourd & Grapefruit Bitters. To that add a large block of ice and give it a gentle stir. Finally, add the syphoned Five Flowers Tea. Garnish with an edible flower.