Is it time to step out of your comfort zone and try a spicy cocktail?

 Consider this drink to “add a little bit of chile to your libation” with your next brunch or happyhour get-together.

The perfect blend of spicy and sweet, this cocktail was created by the Katsuya Japanese restaurant in Los Angeles. The Burning Mandarin is a beautiful cocktail that’ll knock your socks off without scaring anyone away with heat.

It’s a spicy twist on a Cosmo, with a fresh combination of mandarin vodka, lemon juice, cranberry juice, orange juice, and simple syrup.

Quite possibly the best “gourmet” martini that you can make at home. The first sip is an intriguing combination of bright citrus followed by a slow, delightful warming. That delightful singe is brought to you by the Serrano chiles.  

Using fresh-squeezed orange and lemon juice really makes this recipe bright and fresh. If you have access to Meyer lemons, they are great for this recipe since they are not as tart.

This is a sophisticated cocktail and is sure to impress.

If you’re new to cocktail making, here’s a quick video on how to muddle. The recipe calls for lightly muddling a Serrano slice at the bottom of your cocktail shaker

Yes, I did purchase a bottle of simple syrup. 😆 A friend that came over to enjoy this cocktail immediately questioned the reason. If you can boil water, you can make simple syrup. It is only equal parts sugar and water. Bring one cup of water and 1 cup of sugar to a boil. One the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat, pour it into a jar and into the fridge to cool.

The reason I bought a bottle of simple syrup was, well, simple: I didn’t have time to wait for homemade simple syrup to cool down this time.


The Burning Mandarin Martini

Servings 1


  • 2 thin slices fresh serrano pepper
  • 1 1/2 ounces Absolute Mandarin vodka
  • 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/2 ounce cranberry juice
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 orange wedge


  1. Place 1 slice Serrano pepper into a cocktail shaker and mash lightly with a muddler. Add vodka, lemon and orange juices, simple syrup and cranberry juice.
  2. Fill shaker with ice. Place a mixing glass over the cocktail shaker, hold together firmly and shake back and forth 10 times.
  3. Run the orange wedge around the rim of a rocks glass and dip the glass into the sugar. Strain the cocktail into the sugar-lined martini glass. Coat the remaining slice of Serrano with the remaining sugar; float on the liquid as a garnish.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Katsuya Japanese restaurant in Los Angeles.

If you make this, be sure to share with all the fans!

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