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Panda Fizz

Eric Medsker

Chef notes

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.


Pandan Syrup (makes 2 cups)
  • cups water
  • cups sugar
  • 2 whole pandan leaves
  • lemon wedge, for rimming the glass
  • black lava salt, for rimming the glass
  • ounces Japanese vodka, preferably Suntory Haku
  • 1/2 ounce pear eau-de-vie
  • 1 ounce Calpico concentrate
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce Pandan Syrup (recipe above)
  • soda water, chilled


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:


Rim a collins glass with the lemon wedge and black lava salt.


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.


Top with chilled soda water and stir gently.