This is by far Katana Kitten's most copiously consumed drink. I named it after the adorable, sweet bears found in Asia. It is also a play on the word "pandan," an aromatic leaf that is a key ingredient that brings an earthy and nutty note to the drink. But most of all, it is a celebration of Calpico, the Japanese soft drink (available in Japanese markets and online). It is actually a perfect modifier, as it brings sweetness that is balanced by a yogurt-like tang.
Calpico also works as an emulsifier, like egg whites or cream, that binds all the different flavors and ingredients together and, when topped with soda, creates a delightfully frothy head. Finally, the Calpico lends the cocktail its white appearance, which we counterbalance with black lava salt on the rim, to re-create the colors of a panda's fur.
For the Pandan Syrup:
In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar and heat over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the pandan leaves and bring the mixture to a simmer. Remove from the heat, cover and let cool.
Strain through cheesecloth into an airtight 1-pint glass container. Seal the container and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.
For the cocktail:1.
Rim a collins glass with the lemon wedge and black lava salt.2.
Combine the vodka, eau-de-vie, Calpico, lemon juice and pandan syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the prepared glass over ice cubes.3.
Top with chilled soda water and stir gently.