Friday Happy Hour: Hong Kong Empress

Monday marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year, and Natalia has a round-up for us of restaurants offering special menus and events. I was invited along with her to sample the special holiday offerings at Zentan Restaurant in the Donovan House hotel. In addition to the food, I got to try some of their signature Asian-inspried cocktails.

The Hong Kong Empress is the only whiskey-based drink on the list, so naturally my eye went right to it. Rye, specifically, combined with a cinnamon syrup, organic ginger, and served on the rocks with two slices of candied blood orange.

When it first arrived, it seemed pleasant, but on the sweet side for my taste. However, this was one of those times where the pairing really snapped the drink into perfect focus. When a Szechwan hot and sour soup (which was, in fact, both spicy and sour – deliciously so) arrived, the sweet, citrusy drink was the perfect compliment. They really balanced and enhanced each other in a delightful way. Both the soup and the cocktail should be on the menu even after the new year celebration, so drop in and enjoy all winter long.

Brittany has tried to leave DC, it just never lasts. She has lived in Chicago, California, and China – but she always comes back home. Brittany is a drinks, nightlife, and style correspondent for We Love DC. Between columns, you can find her on Twitter, Tumblr, or standing by the bar. Email her at brittany(at)

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