The Story Behind The Secret Life of Plants

The Secret Life of Plants cocktail comes to us from Emily Mistell, the owner of Portland’s indoor-jungle cocktail spot Hey Love. The drink was originally created for a special event called Big Feast in Little China, but is now a popular mainstay on Hey Love’s menu.

"It was so fun to take Chinese flavors and mash them up with tiki tropical fun,” says Mistell. "The mango and Oolong tea marry so nicely together and really start to sing when added to the Magdalena rum, made by our friends right down the street at House Spirits.” The name of the drink is inspired by the many beautiful plants throughout Hey Love.


  • 1 ½ ounce aged and filtered white rum, such as Magdalena Rum
  • ¾ ounce mango oolong syrup (recipe follows)
  • ¼ ounce Giffard Orgeat
  • ¼ ounce Velvet Falernum
  • ¾ ounce fresh lime juice
  • Dash Absinthe
  • 10 drops salt solution (Mistell recommends a 20-to-1, kosher-salt-to-water ratio)
  • Thai basil, for garnish


  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Shake to combine, and then strain into a 14-ounce glass.
  3. Top with crushed ice and a big bundle of Thai basil. Pinch the basil lightly between your fingers before putting into glass for maximum aromatics.

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Updated: 2019-05-21

Mango Oolong Syrup Ingredients

  • 850 grams mango puree
  • 850 grams white sugar
  • 12 ounces water
  • 1 can (12 ounces) mango nectar
  • 12 grams citric acid
  • 4 tablespoons brewed and cooled Oolong tea

Mango Oolong Syrup Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small pot on the stovetop, and heat, stirring occasionally, until dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat and let cool.
The Secret Life of Plants Recipe