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Lunar New Year Celebrations

Chinese New Year Lanterns

Year of the Dragon

Parties with family and friends, cultural traditions, and hopes for a prosperous New Year are all part of the Chinese or Lunar New Year celebration. According to the Chinese zodiac, every year is linked to an animal, and this year’s very important Chinese tradition, observed for 15 days beginning on February 10, will be the start of the Year of the Dragon. The dragon represents bravery, strength, wisdom and good fortune, according to Chinese culture, which marks its New Year as the end of winter and the beginning of spring.
Lunar New Year Dragon Cocktail Closeup

Dragon Cocktails

Food and drink are a crucial part of this New Year celebration, according to the American Chinese Association. In Virginia, restaurants featuring Asian cuisine have curated menus and cocktail pairings to usher in the Year of the Dragon. 

Richmond’s Fat Dragon Chinese Kitchen and Bar, has created a new “Year of the Dragon” cocktail with Empress 1908 Elderflower Rose Gin, lemon juice, strawberry puree, basil and champagne. It’s featured to pair nicely with another celebratory addition to the restaurant’s menu: a whole fish, cooked in a garlic ginger sauce on a bed of broccoli, which is an especially appropriate offering since on Lunar New Year’s Eve, families gather for meals featuring foods that signify luck and prosperity, such as whole fish, according to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art.

In Arlington, PF Chang’s Restaurant has also added a Lunar New Year special cocktail, the Rising Dragon, which includes tequila mixed with lime and pomegranate juices, agave, salt and rosemary aromatics.

In Midlothian, Wild Ginger restaurant has created a group of Dragon cocktails inspired by the restaurant’s celebration menu. “We wanted to tie the cocktails together with the food,” explained Jacob Baldwin who collaborated with fellow bartender Jaden Perini-Anderson to create the Dragon cocktails.

  • The Red Dragon’s coconut vodka pairs perfectly with the menu’s coconut shrimp and coconut curry dishes.
  • House made lychee syrup and melon give the Green Dragon its flavor and blend perfectly with Wild Ginger’s sushi menu and includes a Chinese favorite, the lychee nut. “It’s light and refreshing and not too sweet,” said Baldwin.
  • Yellow dragon is relies on mango for flavor and color and was inspired by the restaurant’s mango salsa served with its sea bass and rockfish offerings.

The Dragon cocktails will be rolled out over the season, but begin with Red Dragon. “It’s the prettiest of the three, and is the perfect cocktail for the Chinese New Year,” said Baldwin.

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