'If you're going to drown a spirit in a mixed drink, then don't splurge on the expensive liquor.' That's long been the advice handed out to amateur cocktail makers by the connoisseurs. 'Not so,' says Kevin Kan, manager of D Diamond restaurant and bar in Kowloon's Elements development. 'The better the ingredients the better the drink. After all, if you use the freshest, ripest fruit, why not use the best liquor base too?' In an age of expensive premium-branded spirits such as Grey Goose and Belvedere vodka, the once-accepted wisdom that cocktails are only good for cheap spirits has been turned on its head. Conspicuous consumption means many drinkers now specify their labels when ordering anything from a tequila shot to whisky on the rocks. But can drinkers really tell whether it's Smirnoff or Ketel One if it's shaken up in a long fruity mix? Kan admits many customers can't, saying a blind tasting he once conducted revealed the average person was unable to tell two premium vodkas apart. 'Even so, I believe cocktails do taste better with premium bases,' says Kan. 'Besides, people feel happier knowing they're drinking something like Belvedere.' For those willing to fork out for such happiness, the cocktail list at D Diamond combines premium brands of vodka, cognac and sake with fresh juices and herbs. The signature mixes reflect an Italian feel with a touch of Japan, in keeping with the restaurant's theme and the result of Kan's experience and ingenuity. Try the cocktails (HK$105) at D Diamond, shop R001, Elements, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2196 8126. Saki Taki (below) 1 shot Nigorizake sake 1 shot fresh orange juice 1 shot fresh pineapple juice Dash of Chambord Shake the sake and orange and pineapple juice well over ice and strain into a martini glass. Pour the Chambord carefully so the blackcurrant liqueur sinks to form a layer at the bottom of the cocktail. Garnish with a slice of oven-dried orange floating on the top. Four Elements (above) 11/2 shots Hennessey VSOP 1/2 shot Bols vanilla liqueur 4-5 pineapple chunks A few pieces of vanilla pod 1 teaspoon of demerera sugar Apple juice, to top up the glass First, sprinkle the sugar and vanilla over chunks of freshly cut pineapple. Grill in an unoiled pan for a few minutes until it caramelises. Muddle until the juices come out of the fruit then add the cognac and liqueur. Shake well over ice then pour into a highball glass. Top up with apple juice and garnish with an oven-dried pineapple wedge on the rim.