Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is all about philosophies of balance, which means when it’s cold out you want to be focused on upping the heat in your diet. Cocktails being an important part of any balanced regimen, now’s the time to make sure your booze gives you the boost you need to fight the frost. Whether or not you know your yin from your yang, sip on these TCM-inspired bevs and you’ll be feeling warm and fuzzy in no time. Who needs a beer jacket?
This cocktail is so warm and so good on so many levels. Firstly, it’s served warm in a porcelain teacup that is perfect for icy fingers. Secondly, smoky aged rum, bitter orange marmalade, homemade kumquat liquor and a magical TCM- inspired ginger date syrup make for a drink that’s sweet, sour and succulent all at once. Served with a cracker of gingerbread, this is a homely hot toddy with a sophisticated twist.
Jasmine, a ubiquitous fragrance in Chinese teahouses with warming TCM qualities, is sweetened into a syrup for this refreshing martini. It’s really a very simple drink of gin and vermouth, but it’s served at Four Seasons' bar Equis with characteristic luxuriousness. A martini is best served iced, but with a jasmine flavour, a dash of lime, and in such sumptuous setting, you know you’re treating yourself with this one.
The holy trinity of gin, vermouth and Campari is not a formula to be messed with lightly, but the wise folk at Nina – known otherwise for their wacky artichoke spritz – know what they’re doing when it comes to cocktails. Their homemade coffee-infused vermouth adds real kick to the negroni; coffee is a warming TCM ingredient and fans of an espresso martini will do well by this lighter and cleaner caffeinated cocktail.
Another hot cocktail, the Black Forest isn’t too far from a spiked hot chocolate, but it’s so much more than that. The base here is single malt whiskey and the TCM element comes from hot jasmine tea, the smokiness of which mirrors the alcohol’s aromas perfectly. Dark chocolate and a dash of cream turn it into a deeply naughty evening treat. This is the alcoholic baby bear to the Mandarine Porcelain’s grown-up mama, made even more playful by the addition of two melting marshmallows on top.
TCM ingredients to look out for
Other than the flavours mentioned here, ingredients said to give you that TCM buzz include basil, black pepper, chilli, cinnamon, clove, coriander, fennel, nutmeg and... wine. Glass of mulled vino in the name of health? Don’t mind if we do.