While there may be some confusion whether this is the year of the goat, sheep or ram, there is no doubt that our favorite Chinese New Year celebratory offering is at MO Bar + Lounge.
We love a good happy hour and this one at the Mandarin Oriental in Brickell Key checks everything off our list: beautiful view, fancy cocktails, and all-you-can-eat food.
For this week, 'til Friday, between the hours of 5 to 8 p.m. you can celebrate with three themed cocktails and unlimited dim sum for $50. Monday was the kick off this special happy hour so we were invited in to scope it out.
The three celebratory cocktail offered are the Greenhouse Smash, MO Mule, and Cloud 9. Our favorite of the three was the former, although, you should really try them all. The smash comes with Grey Goose Le Citron, celery bitters, green grapes and mint leaves. It is light and refreshing and is a signature cocktail at the Mandarin Oriental's landmark property in Hong Kong. We are glad it has arrived to this "key" location and we may have even used our straws as chopstick to retrieve the green grapes from our drink for extra good New Year's luck. (We learned the grape tradition from the Spanish)
Another cocktail offered on this week-long happy hour menu is the MO Mule that uses gin instead of vodka, throws in some premium French ginger liqueur, Domaine de Canton, as well as ginger beer and garnishes with an edible candied hibiscus.
The final cocktail offering is the Cloud 9, which is a bit like a lychee martini with pear liqueur and prosecco in the mix.
The $50 pricetag could easily just cover the three drinks on a typical night, but in honor of the celebration, you also get unlimited dim sum. So head to the festive buffet in the back and unlock the bamboo steamers to unveil freshly stuffed dumplings. The hotel staff was very proud of the fact that these are made fresh on site and you can taste the difference. There is shrimp har gau dumplings, pork sui mei, panfried chicken potstickers and crisp vegetable spring rolls. There is also an assortment of dipping sauces: plum, sweet chili, a soy ginger and a spicy one that we mixed and experimented with on our variety of dumplings during our different trips to the dim sum station.
The hotel's other restaurants, Azul and La Mar, are also providing celebratory menus for the new year and tonight, at 7 p.m., expect to see some lion dance performances.
Regardless, a trip to the Mandarin Oriental, during this time of year ensures a decadent and classy celebration. Gung hay fat choy!
Follow Carina on Twitter @CarinaOst