Happy 4709, now get your dragon on

Today is the start of the Asian lunar new year 4709, celebrated in China, Japan, Korean and Vietnam -- and by Asian Americans -- in anticipation of the coming spring.

Considering the surprisingly mild winter we're experiencing, looking ahead to spring seems rather simple.

During the 15-day celebration, we'll be seeing many dinner and drink specials at our local Asian restaurants. Chain-wise, P.F. Chang's will be handing out its version of hóng bāo, red envelopes traditionally containing money, but this time containing gift certificates.

Chang's also is also offering a promotional Dragon Punch cocktail featuring Chinese beer, vodka infused with dragon fruit and sriracha, a Thai hot sauce.

Here are a few more Asian cocktails you can easily whip up to join in the fun.

From About.com/cocktails

1½ ounce vodka
1½ ounce Lichido (lychee) liqueur
1 ounce cranberry juice

Pour the vodka, Lichido and cranberry juice into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into a chilled old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with lotus flower or several peeled lychees on a skewer.

From China 1 Antique Restaurant & Lounge, NYC

3 parts Champagne or dry Italian prosecco
1 part lychee wine or liquor
1 lychee nut dropped to bottom of glass

Served in a tall champagne flute. You also can blend peeled lychee nuts in their own sweet juice and use with the bubbly.

From Bar None.com

1 ½ vodka
3 ounce sweet-and-sour sauce
Dash of lemon juice
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 drops soy sauce
3 drops Tabasco sauce (optional)
Pineapple (juice or pulp)

Make like a Bloody Mary, improvising with ingredients until you find your preferred taste and texture. It may be helpful to Ken add extra vodka to thin out the sauce. Heated, this mixture also makes a good sauce for various foods.

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