TZR’s Bon Aperitif series explores the cocktail creations of some of your favorite celebrities and influencers. From gourmet martinis to the perfect wine spray, these recipes aim to make your life a little happier. Our latest episode features two wellness-focused cocktails from a cultural entrepreneur and founder of wellness brand inspired by traditional Chinese medicine, Hao life, Danielle Chang.
Growing up with the holistic rituals of traditional Chinese medicine, for Danielle Chang, cocktails are often seen as part of her wellness routine. “I really grew up drinking spirits as part of the meal at the table,” the culinary expert tells TZR. “Alcohol and spirits are really a form of treatment. So there are a lot of infusions that I grew up with infused roots and barks […] So I always had the idea of infusing these herbs which are beneficial, and which are used in cooking, which also bring many benefits and flavors to spirits.
Chang adds that the practice of infusing Chinese herbs into alcohol for medicinal purposes is not new. “It was documented about 2,000 years ago in the first book on traditional Chinese medicine called the Yellow Emperor’s Medicine Classic,” she explains.
Two particular herbal vodka-infused concoctions that Chang always keeps in stock align with the principle of bodily balance at the heart of Chinese medicine. One is a warming cocktail that incorporates hawthorn berries, goji berries and red dates. The second is a more refreshing option, featuring dried chrysanthemum, which Chang likes to pair with spring tea, and which also appears in his superb Hao Life Come Clean herbal blend to help cleanse the liver, as the Chrysanthemum is a powerful detoxifying herb.
The entrepreneur explains that she keeps batches of these infusions in 64 oz. mason jars to create a refreshing spirit when the mood hits her – or anything else she might fancy. “I actually keep all of these infusions in my kitchen instead of my bar,” she laughs. “They also go very well with the kitchen. And that’s how I grew up anyway. We always went to the kitchen cabinet or the pantry instead of the medicine cabinet whenever we got sick. My mom used to make concoctions of Chinese herbs and herbs for us, and that’s how I grew up.
Ahead, check out the two delicious feel-good cocktails that Chang says will lift your spirits this season…in more ways than one!
The royal preparation
Chang says she likes to sip this warming cocktail as a digestive, as hawthorn berries are great for digestion and promote blood circulation. “Red dates and goji berries add sweetness as well as a powerful dose of antioxidants,” she adds. “And alcohol, in general, promotes blood circulation and is inflamed by itself. So if you’ve had a big meal, I think that [Royal] The concoction is really good for clearing the blood vessels so that the medicine can be transported throughout the body and really warm up the digestive system, fighting colds or fatigue. It is an excellent kind of tonic.
Rehydrate about a cup of a mix of berries and dates. Then add it to your infusion container (a 64 oz mason jar was used here). Pour the vodka of your choice over the top of the container, seal tightly, and let sit for at least two to three days (or longer to intensify the plum flavor). Drain the liquid into a separate glass container to store and enjoy as needed!
“I love serving it just over ice,” Chang says. “So shaken up on ice. And it’s really sweet! Usually when you brew spirits you always add some kind of sweetener, but red dates really do disintegrate and add tons of sugar. So I like to drink it shaken on cocktail ice cubes.
“The chrysanthemum, in fact, is the royal flower of China,” Chang explains. “It was introduced in the Song dynasty. So I consider these cocktails as detox to detox or detox to detox. These are healthy cocktails if you want to call healthy cocktails.
The kitchen professional explains that chrysanthemums have cooling and energizing properties for the body and have a floral flavor with a honey taste. “So it’s a great spring refresher,” Chang says. “Chrysanthemums are also a powerful detoxifier.”
1 cup dried chrysanthemum flowers (rinsed and pre-soaked for 10 minutes, then squeezed out excess water)
Brew a cup of dried chrysanthemum flowers. Add the chrysanthemums to your infusion container (64 oz mason jar). Add the vodka of your choice and fill to the top of the jar, sealing tightly. Leave in a dark, cool place and shake every other day or so. The infusion is ready to drink in just a few days, or you can steep it longer. When ready, drain the liquid into the glass storage container of your choice.
For this infusion, Chang explains that she likes to add extra herbal goodness. “I mix sweet green tea for a perfect spring cocktail,” she explains. “Garnish with mint or lemon verbena.”