By Jaweed Kaleem
Think Chinese New Year has passed you by? You're in luck: The Year of the Rat began two weeks ago, but Thursday is the last day of the traditional celebration. At the Mandarin Oriental on Brickell Key, they're toasting with the Mandarin Gold, a golden-orange cocktail with a citrusy punch.
''Gold stands for good fortune for the Chinese,'' says Fion Wong, hotel beverage manager. ``It's fruity, sweet and and very refreshing to have before dinner.''
According to the Chinese zodiac, people born during the Year of the Rat are natural charmers and hard workers, and can handle their finances well. Famous ''rats'' include Queen Elizabeth II, Gwyneth Paltrow and Samuel L. Jackson.
D.I.Y.: Combine 2 ounces orange vodka (such as Absolut Mandarin), 1 ounce orange-flavored liqueur (Grand Marnier), ½ ounce sour mix and ½ ounce pineapple juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with half an orange slice.
F.Y.I. The drink is $12 at the Mandarin Oriental's M-Bar, 500 Brickell Key Dr., Miami; 305-913-8288.
The Mandarin Gold: definitely worth its weight.