The only places in China where vodka is consumed straight, are the Russian areas of town like Beijing's Yabao Lu. The clubs here are as full-on as the vodka.
Every city has to have its Mule and Beijing has several. The award-winning Mala Mule from Mao Mao Chong uses chili-infused vodka, Sichuanese pepper, lime and ginger ale.
Lychees are the most common fresh local ingredient used in vodka cocktails. Nicer bars tend to offer a lychee martini on the menu.
To give vodka a local flavour, bars use a whole range of infusions like ginger, hot pepper, oolong tea, and Sichuanese pepper. Alone and in cocktails, the tastes can be surprisingly pleasant.
Creative vodka cocktails are the name of the game for many Beijing bars and they tend to use both local ingredients and have names like the Chairman, Beijing Iced Tea, Feng Shui and the (pictured) Mao Tini, which uses fresh rosemary, osmanthus-infused vodka, ginger-infused vodka, lemon juice, and cranberries.
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