Mandarin Cocktail Recipe

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Mandarin Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The Mandarin cocktail is a delightful and refreshing drink that originated in the vibrant city of Shanghai. This cocktail was created to celebrate the rich and diverse flavors of the Mandarin orange, a fruit native to China and a symbol of good fortune. The Mandarin cocktail quickly gained popularity among the city's elite and soon became a staple at high-end bars and lounges around the world.

  • The Mandarin cocktail is often enjoyed during festive occasions, such as Chinese New Year and other celebrations.
  • It is said to bring good luck and prosperity to those who drink it.
  • The cocktail is a perfect blend of East and West, combining the exotic flavors of the Mandarin orange with the sophistication of classic cocktail ingredients.

How Mandarin Tastes?

The Mandarin cocktail is a harmonious blend of sweet, tangy, and slightly bitter flavors. The sweetness of the Mandarin orange is perfectly balanced by the tartness of the lemon juice and the subtle bitterness of the orange liqueur. The overall taste is refreshing, light, and invigorating.

Interesting facts about Mandarin

  • The Mandarin orange is believed to have originated in ancient China and was named after the high-ranking officials, known as Mandarins, who wore orange robes.
  • The Mandarin cocktail is often garnished with a twist of orange peel, which is said to represent the coiled dragon, a symbol of power and good fortune in Chinese culture.
  • The Mandarin orange is not only a delicious fruit but also has numerous health benefits, including being rich in vitamin C and antioxidants.


A few good options for Mandarin are:

  • Grey Goose
  • Belvedere
  • Khor
  • Smirnoff

Learn everything on which Vodka to choose

Mandarin Oranges

  • Why: Mandarin oranges are the star of this cocktail, providing a fresh, sweet citrus base.
  • Enhancement: They bring a natural sweetness and fruity flavor that synthetic flavors can't match.
  • Without Them: No Mandarins? You'll lose the cocktail's distinguishing feature and unique citrus punch.
  • Alternatives: Clementines or tangerines could substitute, but expect a slightly different sweetness and tang.

Mary Mitkina

Lemon Juice

  • Why: It adds a zesty sharpness that balances the sweetness of the Mandarins.
  • Enhancement: Lemon juice provides a tart contrast, highlighting the Mandarin flavor.
  • Without It: Omit lemon juice and your cocktail might be too sweet or flat.
  • Alternatives: Lime juice can work but will make the cocktail tangier and more tropical.

Emma Rose

Orange Liqueur

  • Why: Orange liqueur intensifies the citrus profile and adds a touch of complexity.
  • Enhancement: It gives a boozy depth and layers of citrus flavor.
  • Without It: No liqueur means less depth and a less rounded citrus kick.
  • Alternatives: Triple sec or Cointreau could be alternatives, offering subtle differences in sweetness and alcohol content.

Alex Green


  • Why: Vodka is a clean spirit that doesn't overpower the delicate Mandarin flavor.
  • Enhancement: It provides the alcoholic backbone while letting the citrus shine.
  • Without It: No vodka, no party—your cocktail simply becomes a non-alcoholic citrus punch.
  • Alternatives: A flavored vodka (like orange) could amplify the citrus notes, but may also make it sweeter.

Mary Mitkina


  • Why: Ice chills the drink, making it more refreshing and diluting it to perfect sipping strength.
  • Enhancement: Cold temperatures unlock the aromatics in the citrus and alcohol.
  • Without It: A warm cocktail is a sad cocktail; ice is key to the refreshing nature of this drink.

Emma Rose

Orange Twist

  • Why: It's not just a garnish; the oils add aroma and a hint of zest to every sip.
  • Enhancement: The twist adds an elegant visual appeal and a fragrant nose before you even taste the drink.
  • Without It: Your Mandarin cocktail will still taste citrusy, but it’ll miss that extra aromatic pop.
  • Alternatives: A lemon twist or even a sprig of fresh mint can put a different aromatic spin on the cocktail.

Alex Green

Recipe. How to make Mandarin Drink

  1. Peel and segment the Mandarin oranges, removing any seeds.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the Mandarin orange segments to release their juice.
  3. Add the lemon juice, orange liqueur, vodka, and ice to the shaker.
  4. Shake well until all ingredients are combined and chilled.
  5. Strain the mixture into a chilled martini glass.
  6. Garnish with an orange twist, placing it on the rim of the glass.

Pro Tips

  • Use fresh Mandarin oranges for the best flavor.
  • Chill the martini glass before serving to keep the cocktail cold longer.
  • Muddle the Mandarin oranges gently to avoid bitterness from the pith.

Perfect Pairings


  • Cheese Platters: The citrus notes in the Mandarin cocktail complement the creamy flavors of brie or goat cheese.
  • Seafood: Light seafood dishes, like shrimp cocktail or seared scallops, pair nicely with the crisp acidity of this drink.

Main Courses

  • Grilled Chicken: The Mandarin cocktail's vibrant citrus profile can cut through the richness of grilled or roasted chicken.
  • Pasta: A simple pasta with a citrus-based sauce can echo the cocktail's refreshing flavors.


  • Fruit Tarts: A fruit tart with complementary citrus elements would pair well with the Mandarin's sweet and tangy taste.
  • Sorbet: A lemon or orange sorbet can be a refreshing follow-up to this cocktail's zesty notes.

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What you could change in Mandarin

  • Lime juice can be used instead of lemon juice for a different citrus twist.
  • Cointreau can be substituted for the orange liqueur for a more intense orange flavor.
  • Gin can replace vodka for a botanical touch.

Explore all drinks starting with M here

And of course - twists🍹

Mandarin Mojito Twist

  • Ingredients: Replace vodka with white rum and add a handful of fresh mint leaves.
  • Recipe: Muddle fresh mint with the Mandarin oranges before adding the other ingredients. Use rum instead of vodka, and shake as usual.
  • Flavor: This twist introduces a minty freshness, turning our cocktail into a tropical escape with a Mojito vibe.

Spicy Mandarin

  • Ingredients: Add a small slice of jalapeno or a dash of hot sauce to the muddling step.
  • Recipe: Muddle the Mandarin oranges with the spicy element, then proceed as normal.
  • Flavor: The heat will tickle your taste buds and contrast with the sweet citrus, adding an adventurous kick.

Mandarin Spritz

  • Ingredients: Add a splash of soda water and replace vodka with Prosecco.
  • Recipe: Build the cocktail over ice in a large wine glass, topping it off with Prosecco and a splash of soda water for fizz.
  • Flavor: The Prosecco and soda introduce effervescence, lightening the drink for a bubbly, brunch-friendly version.

In case you forgot basics how to make Mandarin

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

The key to proper muddling is to crush the ingredients just enough to release their flavors and not overdo it. Over-muddling can result in a bitter taste, especially with herbs.

Learn everything on how to muddle

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Mandarin

What is the best time to drink the Mandarin cocktail?

As a refreshing and luck-bringing cocktail, the Mandarin cocktail can be enjoyed any time of the day but is particularly delightful during celebrations or festive occasions.

Do I need a special kind of glass to serve the Mandarin cocktail?

While it is traditionally served in a chilled martini glass for elegance and aesthetic appeal, you can use any type of glass you prefer.

Can I make a non-alcoholic version of the Mandarin cocktail?

Absolutely! You can substitute the vodka and orange liqueur with orange juice or a non-alcoholic orange flavored drink and add a bit of sparkling water or soda for a refreshing non-alcoholic Mandarin cocktail.

Is there a pairing suggestion for the Mandarin cocktail?

The Mandarin cocktail pairs beautifully with light appetizers or dishes rich in seafood or white meat. Its refreshing citrusy taste complements the savory flavors of these foods without overpowering them.

Can I use a different type of citrus fruit instead of Mandarin oranges?

Mandarin oranges give this cocktail its unique flavor and symbolic meaning. However, if Mandarin oranges are unavailable, you might try substituting with other citrus fruits such as regular oranges or tangerines, just note that the taste may slightly vary.

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