At Jing Bar in Chengdu, this spiced-up version of the classic Italian aperitivo cocktail pairs perfectly with regional cuisine.
On steamy late spring nights in the city center of Chengdu, a sprawling metropolis of 15 million residents in western China, the lush grounds of The Temple House provide quiet respite from throngs of shoppers trawling the rails at the local Gucci and Hermés megastores in Taikoo Li next door. Named Travel + Leisure's World's Best City Hotel in Asia in 2017, The Temple House is built on Bitieshi, a restored Qing dynasty courtyard situated just a stone's throw from the Daci monastery, which was first established in situ more than 1,600 years ago.
Steeped in centuries of legacy and culture, surrounded by the lush terraced hotel grounds, Jing Bar is the drinks destination in town—packed with a see-and-be-seen crowd spilling from the classic leather banquette space and onto the outdoor terrace every night, every tippler diligently working their way through the bar's stellar list of craft cocktails and 170-strong selection of wines.
For most foreign tourists, destination Chengdu is the first stop on a trip to the Sichuan province. The city, named in 2010 the second-ever worldwide UNESCO City of Gastronomy, is the home of seemingly infinite dining options representative of the region's long-standing culinary traditions and love affair with the Sichuan peppercorn—an aromatic, fragrant, and uniquely numbing spice that's ubiquitous throughout the region… even in drinks.
At Jing Bar, one of the most popular cocktail orders—among locals and visitors alike—is the Sichuan Negroni, a local variation on an Italian classic.
"I started my career at an Italian restaurant, and the first time I tasted a negroni, I found it wonderful," says Jing Bar's lead mixologist Frank He. "Sichuan cuisine is known for its málà flavors. When we learn about wine pairings, you learn about the flavors in a dish and you find a wine that pairs well with that flavor. With the Sichuan negroni—and all the negronis on our cocktail list—the bitterness naturally pairs well with Sichuan málà."
Here's how to replicate Jing Bar's signature Sichuan Negroni at home.
1 oz. G'Vine Floraison gin infused with Sichuan osmanthus fragrans, steeped for 48 hours
1/2 oz. Mancino Bianco Ambrato vermouth
1/2 oz. Mancino Rosso Amaranto vermouth
1 oz. Campari infused with Sichuan peppercorns, steeped for 12 hours
Directions: Serve in a rock glass garnished with dry osmanthus fragrans and lemon leaf.