Adventures in Alcohol

Cocktail hour: Pomelo smash at Chachawan counters feisty Thai fare

This cocktail has the acidity to cut through the fattiness of Thai pork and duck dishes and the sweetness to soften the effect of the chillis in the food

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 July, 2015, 2:42pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 July, 2015, 7:17pm

Tunny Grattidge, manager and mixologist at the hip Thai restaurant Chachawan, in Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, was headhunted by the owners from Sydney, where he had been working with Jowett Yu of Ho Lee Fook fame.

The Papua New Guinean is well travelled and although “backpacking around Asia” is not normally considered a job qualification, familiarity with the continent’s flavours has helped him compile a cocktail list to match the restaurant’s spice-laden Isaan menu.

The key, he says, is recognising how fatty certain dishes are – especially pork- and duck-based ones – and making sure that the drinks have an acidic element to cut through the richness. The Thai influence means that acidity needs to be balanced with sweetness - which is great for cocktails, as the sweetness will also counteract the chilli heat in the northeastern Thai dishes.

New drinks on the cocktail list are generally well-known classics given a twist. Taka the TT Margarita: the TT stands for Thai tea, which is used as infusion for agave syrup. The tea-flavoured syrup sweetens the drink instead of triple sec or Cointreau. The restaurant uses the very floral Thai tea Number One brand in this drink, but teas more commonly drunk in Hong Kong for other cocktails.

The Pomelo smash uses a chai tea syrup that blends equal amounts of warm tea with sugar but takes the heat up a degree with the use of Japanese ginger ale – the Wilkinson brand. It’s the large pomelo tears [sacs] that give this drink it’s unique texture and appeal.

Grattidge says you could make it in jug-sized quantities.

How to make the Pomelo smash at home

Make the tea syrup by preparing some tea and stirring in the sugar to dissolve it.

In a rocks glass with plenty of ice stir together:

40ml Hanson cucumber vodka
10ml Campari
10g fresh pomelo tears
6 mint leaves
25ml calamansi or lime juice
10ml chai tea syrup

Top up with ginger ale for spice or lemonade. Garnish with a a stick of lemon grass and drink through a large straw.