The Lunar New Year, celebrated by many Asian cultures including people of Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese descent (and also known as Spring Festival in China), marks a time for sweeping out the past and ushering in a year of luck. The celebration starts on the second new moon after the winter solstice (which in 2021 falls on February 12) and lasts up to 15 days.
While customs and traditions vary by country and region, they frequently include fireworks, parades (often involving dancers in lion and dragon costumes) and red envelopes full of money; lucky symbols include the color red as well as citrus fruit like tangerines and oranges. The holiday is often kicked off the evening before by a feast with family involving specific dishes such as longevity noodles and dumplings that symbolize health, luck and prosperity in the coming year.
These eight cocktails may not come with the specific associations that traditional “lucky” new year’s dishes do, but they’re sure to get your year off to a sweet and delicious start.
Shawn Chen, the beverage director at Decoy and RedFarm in New York City, drew inspiration from traditional Chinese tea ceremonies when creating this warm large-format punch that combines osmanthus oolong with rye whiskey, Benedictine, lemon juice, ginger syrup and honey.
Baijiu plays the starring role in this cocktail from Lumos in NYC. It puts a complex spin on the sour format, joining maraschino and pear liqueurs, pear and lime juices, agave syrup, and a “spice elixir” to create a fruity, fresh drink.
Oranges are said to symbolize good luck in Chinese culture, so what better way to start off your new year than with this cocktail that combines orange juice with gin and sweet vermouth? The vermouth lends a reddish color for a doubly lucky drink.
The holiday is centered around the lunar cycle (hence its name), so references to the moon are de rigueur for luck. The cherry-red hue of this drink is merely a bonus, as is its simplicity. Just add cherry vodka to a rocks glass with ice, then top with lemon-lime soda and a splash of grenadine.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
Fireworks are a Lunar New Year tradition, as legend holds that they’ll scare away monsters. This cocktail is sure to ward off any evil spirits with its fiery kick. Muddled watermelon chunks join aged rum, triple sec, lime juice, simple syrup and cayenne pepper to get your celebration cracking.
The Lion Dance is a common and important component of Lunar New Year parades. This classic Prohibition-era cocktail is sure to get you dancing too, with its mix of bourbon, allspice dram, lime juice, simple syrup and Angostura bitters creating a drink that’s rich, spicy and aromatic.
This golden-colored cocktail combines the Korean beverages makgeolli and soju with chamoe and lemon juices and honey. We can’t promise it’ll bring the luck of rice cakes, but perhaps the traditional alcoholic rice beverage will have a similar effect.
Set the New Year on Fire
The creator of this cocktail, combining single malt scotch, Campari, lime juice, simple syrup and mint leaves, plus a flaming lime shell, may have had December 31 in mind when envisioning the end result, but the auspicious red of its Campari float and the fiery garnish make it especially appropriate for celebrating the Lunar New Year, as well.