Cocktails & Spirits

Hakkasan's Camille Austin Makes Cocktails That Are Beautiful to Behold...And Drink

Hakkasan, the gorgeous and sexy Chinese restaurant tucked away on the far north side of the mega-resort complex that is the Fontainebleau, is known for award-winning Chinese cuisine, but recently we went straight to the bar -- and never left. (Really, we are writing this blog from there. Hiccup.)

Raven-haired Camille Austin is the head mixologist at Hakkasan and she's part of a Miami movement to elevate the cocktail. In a city where "Goose and Bull" is the drink of choice, she has her work cut out for her. But Austin, 25, is out to steal the hearts and taste buds of Miamians, one elaborate cocktail at a time.

Austin originally set out to study performing arts and started bartending as a way to earn some money. Realizing the bar was like a stage and that bartending is an art, she started asking the chef about flavor profiles and combinations and went to Mexico to learn about tequila.

Soon, the talented Austin was creating signature cocktails ($14) for Hakkasan's menu, including hot tea drinks that incorporate the drama of a traditional Asian tea service. Austin shared a few cocktails with us, leaving us wanting to try every single libation on the menu.

The Long Dragon

This tall drink is made with sake, Noilly Prat vermouth, lemon juice and ginger ale. Garnished with cucumber and lemon rind, it's a zesty combination of Asian and English flavors. A perfect refresher after a long day at the beach, it was light, fizzy and fresh with just a hint of sweetness.

Warm Tea PunchA blend of Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Reposado, fresh lime, agave nectar, hand pressed apple juice and lemongrass, this is both an after-dinner cocktail and a piece of performance art. The punch is served in a porcelain teapot and the cup is garnished with green apple, cinnamon and lemongrass. The resulting drink can best be described as "golden, spicy, warm". The only regret? Not having a blizzard in Miami that evening so we could come in from the cold to have this pot waiting.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.
Contact: Laine Doss