Culinary expert Danielle Chang shares her recipes.
TZR’s Bon Aperitif series explores the cocktail creations of some of your favorite celebrities and influencers. From indulgent martinis to the perfect wine spritzer, these recipes aim to make your life a little more joyful. Our latest installment features two wellness-focused cocktails from cultural entrepreneur and founder of traditional Chinese medicine inspired wellness brand, The Hao Life, Danielle Chang.
Growing up with the holistic rituals of Traditional Chinese Medicine, for Danielle Chang, cocktails are often seen as a part of one’s wellness routine. “I grew up drinking spirits as part of the meal at the dinner table really,” says the culinary expert to TZR. “Alcohol and spirits are really a form of treatment. So there’s a lot of infusions that I grew up with roots and barks infused […] So I’ve always had the idea of infusing these herbs that are health-giving, and that you use in cooking that also add a lot of benefits and flavor to spirits.”
Chang adds that the practice of infusing Chinese herbs in alcohol for medicinal purposes is not new. “It was documented around 2,000 years ago in the first book on Traditional Chinese Medicine called the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine,” she explains.
Two particular herbal vodka-infused concoctions that Chang always keeps in stock align with the body-balancing principle 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 cooling option, starring dried chrysanthemum, which Chang likes to pair with tea in the springtime, and which also appears in her Hao Life Come Clean herbal superblend to help purify the liver, given chrysanthemum is a powerful detoxifying herb.
The entrepreneur explains she keeps batches of these infusions in 64 oz. mason jars to create a refreshing spirit when the mood hits her — or anything else that might strike her fancy. “I actually keep all these infusions in my kitchen instead of in my bar,” she says with a laugh. “They really go well with cooking, too. And it’s like how I grew up anyway. We always went to the kitchen cabinet or pantry instead of the medicine cabinet whenever we got sick. My mom would make us concoctions using Chinese plants and herbs, and so that’s how I grew up.”
Ahead, check out the two delicious and wellness-focused cocktails Chang says will lift your spirits this season … in more ways than one!
Chang says she likes to sip on this warming cocktail as a digestif, 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 fiery on its own. So, if you’ve had a big meal, I think that this [Royal] concoction is really good at just clearing the blood vessels so that the medicine can carry throughout the body and really warm the digestive system, fighting cold or fatigue. It’s a great kind of tonic.”
Rehydrate about a cup of a mixture of the berries and dates. Then, add to your infusion container (64 oz. mason jar was used here). Pour vodka of choice to the top of the container, seal tight, and allow to rest for two to three days minimum (or longer to intensify the plummy flavor). Drain liquid into a separate glass container to store and enjoy as needed!
“I love serving it just over ice,” says Chang. “So shaken over ice. And it’s really sweet! Usually, when you infuse spirits, you always add some kind of a sweetener, but the red dates really disintegrate and add tons of sugar. So I like to just drink it shaken over cocktail ice cubes.”
“Chrysanthemum, actually, is the royal flower of China,” explains Chang. “It was introduced during the Song Dynasty. So, I think of these cocktails as detoxing to retox or retoxing to detox. They’re healthy cocktails if you want to call cocktails healthy.”
The culinary pro explains that chrysanthemums have cooling and energizing properties for the body, and feature a floral, honey-tasting flavor. “So it’s a great springtime refresher,” says Chang. “Chrysanthemums are also a powerful detoxifier.”
1 Cup dried chrysanthemum flowers (rinsed and pre-soaked for 10 minutes, then wrung of excess water)
Steep one cup of dried chrysanthemum flowers. Add the chrysanthemums to your infusion container (64 oz. mason jar). Add vodka of choice and fill to top of the jar, seal tight. Leave in a dark, cool place and shake every two days or so. The infusion is ready to drink in just a few days, or you can let it steep longer. When ready, drain the liquid into the glass storage container of your choice.
For this infusion, Chang explains she likes to throw in some extra herbal goodness. “I mix in sweetened green tea for a perfect spring cocktail,” she explains. “Garnish with mint or lemon verbena.”
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