Ginseng is renowned for its healing qualities, so it's only logical modern mixologists are using it in their cocktails; added to a long summer drink, it works as a pick-me-up in the enervating hot weather. At Antique Bar, a modern but traditionally themed venue in Wan Chai, manager Wong Chi-leung uses ginseng tea to make the Ginseng Cooler, a fruity rum concoction that is best served ice cold.
Summer coolers always work best with a glass filled with ice, and the drinks should be packed with fresh ingredients. Cucumber soothes the palate in Antique Bar's Green Island and both drinks are topped up with ginger ale, a refreshing ingredient essential for many a summer mix.
For a non-alcoholic cleanser, use half ginger ale, half ginger beer and Angostura bitters to create a gunner, with a twist of lime and sprig of mint, to make a great thirst quencher.
Add a dash of ginger ale to make longer mixes lighter and not so overladen with juices or liquor. Coolers are drunk quickly, so it's important not to overdo sugary fruits or the alcohol level.
'Vegetables such as cucumber make a good alternative,' says Wong. 'Teas and sodas also make drinks more refreshing on the palate.'
Try Wong's cocktails (HK$65) at Antique Bar, 1/F, Walden Hotel, 353 Hennessey Road, Wan Chai, tel: 3678 3978.
Ginseng Cooler (above)
1 shot ginseng tea
1 shot rum
1/2 shot triple sec
1/2 shot Blue Curacao
1 shot apple juice
7-Up or another lemon-lime soft drink, to top up the glass
Put the tea, liquor and juice in a shaker and mix well over ice. Pour into a tall glass and top up with the lemon-lime drink. Garnish with a slice of apple or citrus fruit.
Green Island (below)
A few pieces of cucumber
1 shot vodka
1/2 shot Cointreau
Dash of fresh lime juice
Dash of ginger ale
Muddle the cucumber in a glass with the lime juice then add the vodka and Cointreau and shake. Strain into a chilled martini glass and top with ginger ale. Garnish with a wedge of lime.