Antonio Lai says a chic cocktail cna be healthy, too. Photos provided to China Daily
You've seen all those ads. Practically every holiday destination features some bikini-clad babe with a fresh, teeny umbrella-embellished coconut in hand.
Coconut water is synonymous with summer, vacations and tropical paradise.
To capitalize on these long and lazy days of necessary hydration in the heat of the night, Hong Kong mixologist extraordinaire Antonio Lai shows that this water can also be a healthy basis for a chic cocktail.
Partnering with Jax Coco, the coconut-water brand founded in Hong Kong by Jane and Max Gottschalk alongside Alex and Jason Ing, Lai has created two "jaxtails" for Ori-gin and two for Quinary, the Central bars where he splits his time.
He also designed a DIY Quinary special for August: a platter featuring all the raw ingredients you need to make your own Jax Coconut Caviar cocktail.
As evident in the sign on the door, Ori-gin is a watering hole dedicated to gin. Its specialties include gin-based drinks and 12 homemade flavors that are infused into its gin.
Quinary is where Lai lets his molecular skills shine with a large menu of imaginative cocktails, including a version of the Earl Grey tea tipple that first put him on the nightlife map.
Both are managed by Charlene Dawes, whose Tasting Group also operates Tastings Wine Bar and Angel's Share in Hong Kong.
Photos provided to China Daily
Lai explains that a good cocktail is the right balance between acidity and sweetness, with elements of surprise that delight the senses. He feels that Jax Coco is a healthy and refreshing alternative to using water as a base.
"I even use Jax Coco in my espresso maker - it gives the coffee just a hint of sweetness," he says. "My wife and I had some last night, with instant noodles!"
In comparison to the not-so-healthy instant noodles, coconut water contains no added sugar and includes essential minerals for the body such as magnesium, sodium, phosphorous, potassium and calcium.
Lauric acid helps your immune system naturally detox and your digestive tract to absorb more nutrients. Best of all, it is free of fat, gluten, cholesterol and preservatives.
"We equate Jax Coco with opening up a just-picked coconut," explains John LaRose, business development manager for the product. "We feel that the best coconuts in the world come from the Philippines, and that's the only place where we source our coconuts."
Jax Coco micro-filters its fresh coconut water before bottling in stylish glass vessels designed by Alasdhair Willis - otherwise known as Stella McCartney. The coconut water is also available in light Tetrapak containers.
At Ori-gin, Lai's concoctions include Pandan Jax: a blend of the water with pandan-infused gin, pandan syrup and lemon juice for a fruity and floral thirst quencher. In addition, J-spresso mixes espresso with slow-roasted coffee bean vodka for a kick-start to a night on the town.
For Quinary, Lai created Jax Summer Love, a mocktail with nata de coco jelly, pandan syrup and coconut flakes for a stylish way to rehydrate. Meanwhile, Jax Cold Fashioned includes Jim Beam bourbon, bitters and a sugar cube for a contemporary twist on a standard.
"I used Jax Coco to make the ice ball that cools the drink," says Lai. "As it slowly melts, it gives the drink an increasingly stronger coconut flavor - the opposite of ice, which increasingly dilutes it."