Asian fusion cocktail is the bee's knees at Chinatown's R&D

This velvety cocktail includes a sprinkling of bees pollen


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Aislin Henrickson whips up Buddha’s Secret Passion

On the telly 
When the first-ever MasterChef Canada was over and done with, winner Eric Chong joined forces with his blue-haired mentor Alvin Leung and opened a restaurant. The result was R&D, a modern Canadian-Asian restaurant found in the heart of Chinatown.    

Now Chong, with a few more years of experience under his chef whites, has just stepped into the chef de cuisine position. He turns out a menu that bounces from bao (stuffed with Thai brisket curry!) to Peking duck (it took two years to get it just so). 

Flavour family
Much like with the food, the cocktail menu looks to various Asian cuisines for different flavour profiles. 

“Being an Asian fusion place, I feel like our cocktails should reflect that as well,” says assistant manager Aislin Henrickson. 

Henrickson is a newer addition to the R&D fam, bringing 11 years of experience with her. She finessed her skills in cocktails and all things whiskey during a stint abroad in Dublin. There she gained noted mentors, including a founding member of the Irish Craft Cocktail Awards.   

Sweet tooth
Buddha’s Secret Passion is one of R&D’s top tipples. It was made by a former bartender for Chong, who eschews alcohol-forward drinks. 

“Eric likes that sweeter taste,” says Henrickson.      

The drink is built on yuzu liqueur and Whitley Neill gin, which balance each other out. They’re layered with the house passion fruit honey syrup, lemon juice and egg white. The tipple is served in a coupe that’s given a camomile rinse. A sprinkling of bee pollen is the final addition to the drink. The result is a velvety cocktail that’s sweet without being saccharine. And goes down real easy.

R&D, 241 Spadina Ave., 416-586-1241

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Karolyne Ellacott is senior editor at Post City Magazines. She can oft be spotted at Toronto’s most nostalgic diners wearing glittery heels and pink faux fur. Follow all of her eclectic writing interests on Twitter @kellacott and Instagram @itismekar.

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