Seasoned mixologist Zachary Yu is applying Southeast Asian twists to classic cocktails at Vietnamese and Thai bar and restaurant Lian, in Central In the Lianjito, a variation on the Cuban mojito, he adds Thai basil leaves to the mint for a more complex, exotic flavour. He also replaces the dark rum with cognac, a nod to the Asian preference for the French liqueur. But he's fastidious about keeping some traditions of the original drink, such as using demerara sugar, which is made from raw sugarcane. 'You can taste the sugarcane and its strong flavour balances the herbs. It doesn't melt easily so it doesn't release all its sweetness.' The signature drink, the Lian, uses lemongrass with rosemary as well as fresh young ginger. Yu combines vodka and liqueurs with red grape juice to create a cocktail that has a strong finish. 'There's a fruit burst followed by a spicy back taste,' he says. Try Yu's cocktails (HK$70 to HK$85) at Lian, shop 2004, IFC Mall, Central, tel: 2521 1117. Lian (above left) 3/4 shot Stolichnaya vodka 3/4 shot Bols peach liqueur A few shreds of fresh young ginger 1/2 lemongrass stick 5cm sprig of rosemary 2 shots red grape juice 1/2 shot cranberry juice Fill a martini glass with ice cubes to chill and add half the rosemary sprig. Bruise the lemongrass stick and chop into 5cm strips. Add the ginger and remaining rosemary and muddle. Add the rest of the ingredients with a handful of ice and shake. Remove the ice from the glass, keeping the rosemary as a garnish and strain the cocktail into the glass. Lianjito (above right) 11/2 shots Martell VSOP cognac A handful of fresh mint leaves 5 Thai basil leaves 2 tsp demerara sugar 3 halves of Thai lime A dash of sugar syrup Soda, to top up the glass Squeeze the limes and place the skins and juice in a bowl. Tear the mint and basil leaves and add them and the sugar to the bowl. Muddle well. Place in a shaker with the rum or cognac and shake. Pour into a glass - without straining - and add crushed ice until it's three-quarters full. Top up with soda water and garnish with a mint leaf.