Booze

Hong Kong Seven: Goes With Chinese

Most Chinese dishes already have a balance of flavors, so it's a challenge to match them with adult beverages. I see diners drinking Tsingtao beer with spicy food, and as far as wine, one might match chicken and broccoli in ginger brown sauce with a Sauvignon Blanc, or--I don't know--help me, Jeremy Parzen.

My lovely wife, after extensive Asian travel, learned to forgo alcohol in favor of Sprite.

While researching cocktails, I read a passing mention that diners in Hong Kong drank Cognac and 7 Up with their meals. With no other information, as to proportions or methods of serving, I simply turned to the basic rule from the King of Cocktails, Dale DeGroff.

When it comes to mixing alcohol and juice or soda, DeGroff follows the 3 to 1 ratio, usually 1½ ounces of liquor to 4½ ounces of soda. It almost always works, in drinks like screwdrivers and Cuba Librés. For a boozier benchmark, I also mixed up a 2 to 1 ratio cocktail, and added ice to both drinks.

The first taste of the 3:1 cocktail was unfamiliar, with an odd taste that I cannot reference to anything else. I wasn't sure I liked it, so I tried the stronger mix, and the Cognac asserted itself over the odd taste.

I waited 5 minutes and tried them again. This time, the dilution from the melting ice removed the odd taste, and I understood the attraction. I tested this mix with chicken and broccoli, Mongolian beef, pork dumplings, then egg rolls. I branched out to other Asian cuisine, such as Japanese food, báhn mì, even Chicken McNuggets with Sweet Chili sauce. Cognac with Seven-Up works.

I had to come up with a name. Hong Kong Seven. Sure, that won't win me a Genius Award, but it fits. To be certain, I mixed Cognac with Sprite, and Cognac with Sierra Mist, but neither worked.

Hong Kong Seven

  • 1½ ounce Cognac (Martell is popular in Hong Kong)
  • 4½ ounces Seven Up

Pour Cognac over ice, stir with a chopstick. Add 7 Up, slowly stir seven times for togetherness, or eight times for prosperity. Garnish with a cherry, and wait a few minutes before drinking.

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John Kiely
Contact: John Kiely