Make your own Chinese virgin mary cocktail

Good news: tomorrow is the start of spring. Not according to the western calendar – you'll have to wait a few weeks yet for our vernal equinox on 20 March – but as measured by the Chinese, who realise that, at this gloomy time of year, we all need an excuse for a party. So it's Chinese new year tomorrow – also known as Spring Festival.

This will be the Year of the Snake – or the Yin Water Snake, to be precise – and I'm afraid to say it all sounds a bit heavy. The year is "meant for steady progress and attention to detail", according to one Chinese website. "Focus and discipline will be necessary for you to achieve what you set out to create."

Thankfully, the day itself is about celebration more than application. It is meant to be a day of reconciliation: a day to bury grudges, and to spread peace. Chinatowns across Britain will be festooned with red, like Mao Zedong's underwear drawer. This recipe for a Virgin Mary is designed as an accompaniment to the celebrations – a red drink, the Chinese colour of luck.

Virgin (and bloody) Marys are one of those traditions that are passed down through families. They evolve – a pinch of this added here, a dash of that there. They are made to be meddled with. A friend of mine has a recipe that contains 36 ingredients. He will write them out for you if he is feeling generous.

This mix contains wasabi in place of horseradish, soy in place of salt, and chilli garlic sauce doing the job of tabasco, with fresh jalapeño for extra kick. If you can get hold of fresh wasabi, so much the better.

We will be serving this at brunch at our house tomorrow, with little buns, sticky pork ribs and cheerful daffodils on the tables. We'll probably add vodka.

Make your own Chinese Virgin Mary

Makes 4

1 tsp wasabi powder
Juice 1 lime
750ml tomato juice
1 tsp chilli garlic sauce
1 tbsp Worcester sauce
Few drops soy sauce
1 jalapeño chilli, finely chopped
Pinch celery salt
Black pepper

To garnish
4 spring onions

1 Whisk the wasabi powder and the lime juice to a paste, then combine with all the other ingredients in a large jug with a handful of ice cubes.

2 Strain into 4 highball glasses and add 2-3 cubes of ice to each.

3 Take 4 spring onions and curl the ends with a knife. Garnish each drink with one, along with a chunky strip of cucumber.

• Recipe by Jane Baxter and Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of the healthy fast-food restaurant chain Leon (@henry_leon)

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