When Three Fold Noodles & Dumpling Co. announced it was opening a new, larger, western outpost, diners were met with a skillful blending of American and Chinese food. In the new location, Three Fold has expanded their offerings to include beverages that follow the same ethos of the food that owner Lisa Zhang has consistently championed. Along with scratch-made boba tea and coffees, general manager Rebecca Yan calls the cocktail program “the last part of the Three Fold puzzle.”

After a decade of growth, the Pleasant Ridge location provided the impetus to “complete the Three Fold equation.” It serves a larger residential population, meaning that guests stay longer to enjoy the coffee and cocktails at the restaurant. Using local spirits from Rock Town Distillery was a natural choice to highlight the sense of place that Three Fold strives to create, and when coupled with the Chinese spirit baijiu, it lends a truly unique character to the drinks. Three Fold also utilizes local sake from Origami Sake in Hot Springs, and Yan credits excitement around the new brewery with propelling this cocktail menu to fruition.

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As a variety of Asian spirits gain popularity on a global and local stage, Three Fold is putting baijiu front and center. There was always a bottle around and the shots of baijiu would accompany many dinners growing up, according to Yan, but bringing the world’s most consumed spirit to Arkansas was a new challenge. As a sorghum spirit, baijiu has a flavor profile with undertones of sweetness and umami. In trying to create approachable ways for Arkansans to drink more of it, Three Fold settled on using classic cocktails to show off its breadth. The musky and earthy flavors pair well with food and incorporate more than Chinese flavors, also looking to Japanese and Thai ingredients to expand the palate of the menu.

Plum Old Fashioned

Joel DiPippa

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Using Three Fold’s own plum tea that has been slightly smoked, the Plum Old Fashioned takes the familiar form and flavor of an Old Fashioned and gives it a distinct Three Fold spin. There is a maturity in the restraint used to create this riff on a classic that is at once both new and familiar. The Old Fashioned gives a sweet nose with smoky notes but a very fruit forward sip. The use of the tea leaves the Old Fashioned a little lighter on the tongue, almost dangerously easy to down, but adds an astringency to balance the infused Rock Town bourbon.

Pao Cai Martini

Joel DiPippa

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Few drinks are as sophisticated as a martini, and the Pao Cai Martini fits in with the rich and salty dirty martinis that have come back around. Using scratch-made pickled vegetables, the Pao Cai Martini incorporates sake to add a subtle herby note on the nose while the pickles have the distinct peppery tang you find at Three Fold. The Pao Cai Martini takes the best aspects of a dirty martini and a Gibson, which is typically garnished with a pickled onion, to create a drink with intriguing richness and a distinct umami character that makes you pay attention.

Ginger Sour

Joel DiPippa

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The combination of ginger and baijiu makes this drink stand out. By being both earthy and uplifting at the same time, the Ginger Sour reminds you of the food at Three Fold, blending the different tastes together in one dish. The ginger and lemon are easy to pick out but give way to the backbone of the baijiu’s flavor to savor. This is a more delicate drink than the margarita, but it will make guests feel right at home.

Eastern Julep

Joel DiPippa

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The Eastern Julep is a bracing balance of sweet and savory. Even in the heat of summer, this drink can bring the comfort of a steaming bowl of pho. Using Rock Town bourbon as a guide, the julep is built around a muddle of Thai basil and jalapenos that support, but never overpower the main spirit. By using the flavors of pho, but blending them seamlessly with a classic julep cocktail, the Eastern Julep is quintessentially Three Fold.

Baijiu Margarita

Joel DiPippa

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No restaurant cocktail menu is complete without a margarita and the Three Fold Baijiu Margarita makes the most of the baijiu flavors. Using it as an analog to tequila, the tart lime and Rock Town triple sec are supporting notes that power this smooth and bright classic. The baijiu’s subtle richness brings you back sip after sip without feeling salty. The more that you let this cocktail sit, the more the unique baijiu flavors come out, lending a distinct twang like an aged tequila that peeks out from behind the lime notes. Perfect for the upcoming spring and summer weather on the patio!

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