Drink This: Desert Jade at KHLA in Phoenix

Nikki BuchananJuly 7, 2022
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Photo by Adam Kindred
Photo by Adam Kindred

KHLA, which means “tiger” in Khmer, is a cool little Roosevelt hideaway specializing in boundary-pushing cocktails rooted in Asian traditions and flavors. Bar manager Dustin Doan, who created this refreshing shochu-based cocktail, says he was inspired by the flavors found in Southeast Asian bakeries, and it’s true that there’s a burst of sweet, nutty pistachio and an undercurrent of rich, creamy banana in every sip. However, the drink’s dessert-like qualities are counterbalanced by lemon, herbaceous bitters and shochu, Japan’s most popular spirit, distilled (in this instance) from barley, which lends the drink its earthy, toasty, umami-laden character. The result? Desert Jade is a quirky, complex, utterly quaffable gem. 

Aside from rounding up a few bottled ingredients, this one is a snap to make. 

Combine 1 ½ oz. iichiko Saiten Shochu,
½ oz. Joseph Cartron Banane banana liqueur, ½ oz. Luxardo Bitter Bianco, ¾ oz. Monin Pistachio syrup and 1 ¼ oz. fresh lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice, then shake and strain into a lowball glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a bouquet of fresh sage or mint to unleash this tiger of a cocktail from KHLA.



218 E. Portland St., Phoenix


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