Moonstruck: Toast to Togetherness this Mid-Autumn Festival with Mixologist Shelley Tai’s Osmanthus Wine Cocktail

Paper lanterns hung with care, the scent of osmanthus in the air, mooncakes everywhere… Mid-Autumn Festival is upon us! Taking place on September 10 this year, the festival has long been one of the most important holidays in Chinese culture. A time for family, joyful meals and celebrations, the festival brims  with meaning and unique traditions.

Historically, the Mid-Autumn Festival marked the end of the harvest period. Thousands of years ago, villagers would gather when the moon was at its fullest and brightest – on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar. They did this to collectively give thanks, spend time together and ask for peace, prosperity and fertility in the coming year.

Today, the tradition lives on. Many Chinese families use the festival as a sacred day to reconnect – a bit like Thanksgiving in American or Canadian cultures. It’s also a time to pay tribute to the moon. In Chinese culture, the full moon symbolizes togetherness while its round shape links to motherhood, life and rejuvenation.

Growing up in Hong Kong, mixologist and BOMSHBEE creative collaborator Shelley Tai says the holiday is close to her heart. “For as long as I can remember, my family has treated the Mid-Autumn Festival with a tremendous sense of importance,” she says.

“My favorite part of the festival was getting that quality time with family over great conversation. After dinner, my siblings and I would run off into the backyard and light candles to place in our paper lanterns, then watch them float up into the night sky.”

Named the 2019 Diageo World Class Hong Kong & Macau Bartender of the Year, Tai relocated to Singapore in 2020 to head up Nutmeg & Clove, an artisanal cocktail lounge ranked among the World’s 50 Best Bars. But despite the distance from her hometown, she maintains a strong connection to her Hong Kong roots and upbringing.

When Tai was younger, her family hosted a highly anticipated soiree every year for their extended relatives and friends. “We did all the traditional activities for Mid-Autumn, from decorating the rooftop with colorful lanterns, spending hours together under the full moon, and of course, eating way too many mooncakes,” she remembers joyfully.

Mooncakes, a dense buttery Chinese pastry stuffed with a variety of decadent fillings, are virtually synonymous with the Mid-Autumn Festival – so much so that the holiday is nicknamed “Mooncake Festival”. That’s partly because mooncakes’ rich flavor makes them challenging to finish alone but perfect to share with friends and family.

Mooncakes are best enjoyed with a generous pour of another celebrated Mid-Autumn treat: osmanthus wine. Made with diluted baijiu – a traditional Chinese grain spirit – and sweet osmanthus flowers, osmanthus wine (also called cassia wine) is believed to promote longevity and is commonly offered during toasts.

“The scent of osmanthus is so evocative of the Mid-Autumn Festival,” says Tai. “Osmanthus wine has this uniquely delicate flavor that is mildly sweet with a lingering aroma – it’s pleasant to drink either alone or mix with something else.”

Tai says she occasionally reaches for the traditional liqueur behind the bar since its subtle, botanical properties add complexity and intrigue to cocktails. In celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival, Tai crafted this elegant osmanthus wine-inspired recipe. Try it for yourself while you toast to the future and gaze at the moon, surrounded by loved ones on September 10.

The Recipe: Fly Me To the Moon (Osmanthus Shrub Cocktail)
The Glass: BOMSHBEE’s Eddy Glass Short


  • 30ml gin
  • 15ml osmanthus wine
  • 20ml pomelo shrub*
  • 15ml chrysanthemum syrup**
  • 10ml lemon juice


  1. Mix all ingredients in a shaker.
  2. Add ice and shake until cold.
  3. Pour into a BOMSHBEE EDDY Short Glass.
  4. Garnish with osmanthus and enjoy!

***To make the pomelo shrub***

  • 600g pomelo flesh
  • 450g white vinegar
  • 150g water
  • 20g pomelo peel
  • 600g sugar

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar. Mix well and let it infuse for 3-5 days.

***To make the chrysanthemum syrup***

  • 20g chrysanthemum leaves
  • 500g hot water
  • 1:1 sugar syrup (equal parts sugar and water)

Brew chrysanthemum in hot water for 10 minutes. Strain and mix in sugar syrup.

This Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrate the season of togetherness with BOMSHBEE’s carefully crafted minimalist tableware, serving platters and glassware. Happy Mid-Autumn!

The Secret’s Out: Inside the Bean-To-Bar Movement with Artisanal Chocolatier Conspiracy Chocolate

Céline Herren and her partner, Amit Oz, started experimenting with chocolate as a hobby – a fun couples’ project that indulged their adventurous palettes and mutual obsession with chocolate.

Working from their tiny kitchen in Sai Ying Pun – a Hong Kong neighborhood known for harboring creative types – the pair would melt down squares of Lindt chocolate, then add spices, herbs and savory ingredients before freezing them back into bar form.

These kitchen experiments led to a welcome discovery: “Basically, everything tastes good with chocolate,” laughs Herren.

It wasn’t long before they realized their experiments could be more than just a hobby. In 2018, Herren visited her native Switzerland to take a professional chocolatier program. When she returned to Hong Kong later that year, the pair launched Conspiracy Chocolate. This bean-to-bar chocolate brand prides itself on its sustainable ethos and surprising flavor combinations, such as raspberry with timut (a fruity Nepalese pepper), toasted rice and hojicha (a type of roasted Japanese green tea), and osmanthus and rose petals with pink peppercorns.

“We wanted to deconstruct the process and show that chocolate doesn’t have to be just a candy bar,” explains Herren. “Originally, chocolate was a bitter drink flavored with chillies and spices. During the Industrial Revolution, we made it into something quite sweet, adding ingredients like vegetable oil, sugar, and vanilla, so that today’s commercial chocolate contains next to no cacao [raw, unprocessed cocoa] at all.”

Much like artisanal movements such as craft beer, natural wine, and sourdough bread-making, Herren says bean-to-bar is all about returning to raw materials. By stripping away the many layers of large-scale commercial processing and returning to traditional methods, consumers are left with a purer and, ultimately, healthier product.

Photo Credit: Conspiracy Chocolate

“These days, people want to slow down and understand where their food is coming from,” says Herren. “Different regions have different tastes; there’s cacao that naturally tastes like passionfruit or bananas – our cacao is quite earthy and spicy, for instance. What bean-to-bar chocolate-makers try to do is bring this terroir back into the product.”

When it comes to sourcing their beans, Herren and Oz chose a small, family-run farm in the indigenous ethnic minority region of Dak Lak, in Vietnam. “We have a very strong relationship with the farmer, where we defer to them as the expert as we collaborate. From choosing which genetic material from the pods they grow with to how they dry and ferment – it’s a very different type of relationship.”

Their approach has resulted in high-quality chocolate, devout customers and an ever-growing product range. Over the last four years, the company has expanded to a much larger industrial-size kitchen – a far cry from their Sai Ying Pun stovetop – and introduced new ideas like chocolate liqueur, a cacao tea blend, or a collection of CBD and CBG (a newly isolated cannabinoid known as cannabigerol).

What’s next? Herren says the next big trend will be cacao-based drinks – for example, single-origin hot cocoa. Using cacao pod husk (usually a waste product), producers can make everything from cacao soda and kombucha to cacao beer. “I think cacao drinks will get more trendy as people search for new things to drink and discover.”

Curious about cacao-based bevvies? Here is a recipe from Conspiracy Chocolate to get you started:

Ultimate Hot Cocoa
Who doesn’t want to level up their hot cocoa? This mouthwatering, aromatic recipe is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

  • Bring 1¼ cup of nut or dairy milk to simmer in a saucepan.
  • In a mug, add one heaping tablespoon of single-origin or premium chocolate shavings with just a splash of warm milk to help it dissolve.
  • Mix well with a spoon to create a thick, chocolatey paste.
  • Add the rest of the warm milk and stir well.
  • Add spices like cinnamon, allspice, vanilla or cloves to infuse and give a nice gentle flavor, or try a pinch of chilli or sea salt on the top for an extra kick.

Additional recipes to try…

Cacao Tea
Add depth and complexity to your mid-afternoon tea for a delicious pick-me-up.

  • First, get your hands on some cacao husks (Conspiracy Chocolate sells them, but you can also order them online.)
  • Bring 1¼ cup water to boil with a tablespoon of cacao husks.
  • Add any herbs or other tea blends you might like – cinnamon, verbena, or orange slices all go down a treat.
  • Let infuse for a few minutes before straining and serving.

Cacao Soda
Bring on the bubbles with this zesty summer cooler, which is a testament to the versatility of cacao. 

  • Melt a teaspoon of sugar with ½ cup of water, then add 1 tablespoon of cacao husks.
  • Let the syrup darken a bit before turning off the heat and letting the mixture cool.
  • In a glass, add ice cubes, soda water and the desired amount of cacao syrup.
  • For something special, add a squeeze of orange before enjoying!