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January 20, 2009

Ming Tsai’s Guide to a Chinese New Year Party

Ming Tsai Chinese New Year

Ming Tsai's Chinese New Year

Photo Credit: Great Gatherings

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Gosling's Ginger Ale Cocktail
Here’s a splashy crowd-pleaser from the bar at Ming’s restaurant, Blue Ginger. “Layered drinks are a fun way to wow people,” Ming says. “Just be sure to tell them to stir before they sip.” If you don’t have time to candy the ginger for the garnish, use store-bought candied ginger. This recipe makes more syrup than you need. That’s a good thing. You can use it to make what Ming calls “the world’s best ginger ale, bar none.” Just combine the syrup with 6 parts sparkling water, add a squeeze of lime, and serve over ice.

Serves 6

Ginger Syrup and Candied Ginger
4 cups sugar, plus 1 1/2 to 2 cups for candying ginger
2 cups 1/8-inch-thick sliced fresh ginger (about 2 large hands)
2 cups water
Ice cubes or crushed ice
2 quarts club soda, well chilled
1/2 cup (4 ounces) fresh orange juice
Juice of 3 limes, plus 1 lime, cut into 6 wedges, for garnish
3/4 cup (6 ounces) Gosling's Black Seal rum

To make ginger syrup, in a saucepan, combine 4 cups sugar, ginger, and water and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, or until reduced by half and syrupy. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve held over a heatproof bowl. You should have about 4 cups syrup and 2 cups ginger slices. Let cool completely. You will need only 1 cup syrup for this recipe. The remainder will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

To candy ginger slices, preheat oven to 200 degrees F. In a bowl, combine ginger slices and remaining 1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar and toss to coat slices evenly with sugar. Arrange slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake about 4 hours, or until thoroughly dried. Remove from oven and let cool. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks.

To make each drink, fill a tall glass almost full with ice and then with club soda. Pour 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) ginger syrup down side of glass to create a layer of syrup on bottom. Add about 4 teaspoons (about 2/3 ounce) orange juice and juice of 1/2 lime. Carefully add 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) rum, floating it in a layer on top. Three distinct layers — syrup, club soda and citrus juice, and rum — should be visible.

Garnish each glass with a lime wedge and a slice of candied ginger hanging over rim, or a few ginger slices skewered on a cocktail pick. Serve each layered drink with a straw and tell your guests to mix layers with straw before drinking.

Think Drinks
You can serve this menu with sparkling wine or chilled Chinese beer (Ming recommends Harbin or Tsingtao), as well as sparkling cider, homemade ginger ale (see recipe introduction), and hot or iced green tea.

Ming’s Wine Picks
White: With the oysters and fish, serve a Sauvignon Blanc from Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa.
Red: With the chicken, try a Pinot Noir from Oregon or from Burgundy.

Like what you see here? Get the full version: Great Gatherings: Star Chefs Entertain at Home Cookbook. Find out how the 16 star chefs of the Macy's Culinary Council entertain their family and friends, and learn how easy it is to pull off in your own home!
Buy Great Gatherings: Star Chefs Entertain at Home here.

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