Baijiu represents one third of global spirit sales but is little known beyond China. This project aims to raise the profile of this spirit by supporting events planet-wide from August 1 to August 8, culminating in World Baijiu Day on August 9. Click here for details on this project.
By Jim Boyce | Golden Monkey in Melbourne will use a spirit from neighbor New Zealand to celebrate World Baijiu Day this year.
“The Secret of the Golden Flower” is based on a Chinese Taoist classic about silent meditation, says Lee Linford. The recipe includes baijiu from Christchurch-based Taizi along with passion fruit puree, elderflower syrup, lemon juice and orange bitters.
“It’s garnished with a lemon twist and served straight up in a coupe,” says Linford. “It’s best enjoyed with eyes closed to enhance the floral aromas and tastes of the tropical fruits.”
“The Secret of the Golden Flower” will be available from August 9, World Baijiu Day, through August 13 for $15. Get more details about Golden Monkey here.
And here are some pics from last year’s World Baijiu Day event:
By Jim Boyce | U.S. brand ByeJoe is back for World Baijiu Day and is lining up venues that include Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar and Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, says owner Matt Trusch. (See here for Trusch’s “four p’s” philosophy of selling baijiu in the U.S. market.)
Imbibers at the Hangar Bar can try “Anything Goes“, a concoction with byejoe Dragon Fire Spirit, which includes dragon fruit and chili in its recipes, as well as fresh lime, passion fruit and pineapple juices.
Meanwhile, those at the Tiki-style Trader Sam’s can try the “Tahitian Torch“, which also has includes byejoe Dragon Fire Spirit along with a series of tropical juices.
By Jim Boyce | Seafood restaurant Blu Blu Blu in Milan will pair products from vastly different parts of the world on August 4, says Luca Barbieri.
On one hand, there will an intro to Moutai, to understand one of the most famous baijius from China and, of course, to taste it. On the other hand, this spirit will be paired with oysters from France.
The Blu Blu Blu event is called, “Lux Experience: Oysters & The Emperor Spirit“, and starts at 8 PM on August 4. Moutai and oysters will also be featured in the restaurant from August 1 to August 8
See the poster about for details. See this website for more on Blu Blu Blu.
“We’ll have baijiu tastings in our store from 3 PM to 7 PM on August 9,” says Imogen Hayes. She adds there is free delivery on all online Moutai purchases this month.
Hayes has organized several “Art of Baijiu” workshops, including this one. And she says there are plans to host a Moutai cocktail session in August. I’ll have details on that soon.
The Moutai showroom is at Shop 2, 398 Sussex Street, Chinatown in Sydney.
By Jim Boyce | Capital Spirits in Beijing plans to tease your brain then numb it as part of World Baijiu Day. For a solid week, customers at this baijiu bar can test their knowledge about China’s national spirit via quizzes and tastings to win prizes and, of course, fame. I talked to manager David Putney about this event and other baijiu issues.
Let’s say you have to give a one-minute lowdown on baijiu to someone who knows nothing about this spirit. What three quick facts would you give them?
Baijiu is the most popular spirit in the world. Baijiu is the only alcohol fermented in a solid state. Baijiu is actually an umbrella category for Chinese clear spirits: the difference in flavor between styles can be as great as the difference between Western spirits such as rum and gin.
Baijiu flights are a key part of the Capital Spirits experience. Have you seen any general trends in terms of what baijiu styles people like?
The biggest trend is about 85 percent of people change their opinion on baijiu after a flight. People who have sworn off baijiu have left our bar with a newfound appreciation for the spirit once they see that there are a plethora of styles with a variety of flavors. A trend we’ve noticed is that aged spirit drinkers—whiskey, brandy and rum fans—seem to like the stronger-flavored baijius, such as strong and sauce aromas. Vodka and gin fans oftentimes prefer lighter aromas like rice and light aroma baijius.
You guys will be do a quiz for World Baijiu Day. Could you tell us a bit about it?
We asked our dear friend Derek Sandhaus, author of “Baijiu: The Essential Guide to Chinese Spirits”, to write a short quiz on baijiu production and history for our World Baijiu Day event. He gave us 10 questions, divided into easy, medium and hard categories. Passing the easy section will earn you a free shot, passing the medium section will entitle you to a free beer, and conquering the hard section will bequeath upon the champion a flight or cocktail of their choice.
If you want to see the actual quiz, you’ve got to stop by during our World Baijiu Day event.
Finally, let’s say I’m heading overseas and want to take a couple of good but reasonably priced bottles of baijiu with me. What would you recommend?
I’d say keep your bottle between the 元100 and 元250 price range. Anything less than 元100 will just be grain neutral spirits with flavorings added. Xing Hua Cun Fen Jiu, Luzhou Laojiao and Maotai Prince are all good choices there, and can be found in almost any baijiu shop.
Note: Take the baijiu quiz at Capital Spirits from August 7 through August 14. Identify an intro flight of baijiu and win a beer or shot, depending on how well you do. Take the quiz written by Sandhaus and, depending on the difficulty level and your score, win a free shot, beer or flight / cocktail. More on Capital Spirits here.
By Jim Boyce | The UK got its own baijiu bar this year when Fu by Epicured opened in Liverpool. And, says manager Andrew Robinson, the venue has special plans for this year’s World Baijiu Day.
“For World Baijiu Day, we have brewed our very own beer, an IPA infused with Du Kang Baijiu,” says Robinson. “If I say so myself, it’s pretty good!”
Robinson says Fu is mulling new cocktail ideas, although he already offers a good range of options, from Emperor Park Swizzle to Fu Julep to Ren Ren, a concoction with Red Star erguotou, Cherry Heering, lemon and passion fruit.
Customers can also try the house infusions, sample the three flight of baijius, or pick and choose from among Du Kang, Luzhou Laojiao, Red Star, and more.
“We always have at least ten baijiu on the go at any time,” says Robinson.
Here’s Team Fu at this year’s Liverpool Food & Drink Festival:
Good Works is a not-for-profit project that sources its beans and leaves from small producers in the southwest province of Yunnan. Along with his duties running the company, manager Sam Cornthwaite says he’s been working with baijiu.
“Good Works has spent the better part of the past six months exploring the relationship between baijiu and coffee,” he is quoted as saying. “From barrel aging, to brewing and beyond, we’ve pushed the limits on how the duo can create a beautiful pairing.”
Pop-Up customers will get a chance to try a couple of those creations from 4 PM to 5 PM on August 6.
“We’ll be slinging Iced Moutai Mochas using a rustic and rugged coffee called ‘Dragon’,” says Cornthwaite.
His team will also serve “Hainan Island Iced Tea“, which he describes as “a sweet and tart tisane showcasing mint, stevia and orange peel, and hardened by a hibiscus-infused baijiu.”
The informal theme of World Baijiu Day is “beyond ganbei” and Good Works has certainly embraced it.
Get both the mochas and the iced tea for rmb50, with all money going to Good Workers and its mission to help train late-teen orphans and get them jobs in the coffee and tea sectors.
To book a spot, email hello (at) popupbeijing.com or call 6502-5725 from noon to 10 PM.
By Jim Boyce | The Tiki Bungalow, a source in Beijing of potent and palatable drinks, thoughtfully designed menus and carefully curated kitsch, a model Magnum P.I. poster and a stoic inflatable shark named Higgins, and innumerable reckless nights followed by regret-filled mornings that magically lead to more such sessions, has an important message.
“Joining bars worldwide in celebration of World Baijiu Day, in the true spirit of the 1940s Tiki cocktail masters and intrepid explorers Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic, The Tiki Bungalow is featuring a special baijiu Tiki cocktail from August first to August ninth,” states co-owner Oliver Davies.
The concoction is called Goodbai Fu Manchu*, a riff on the Mystic Lamp, a 1962 Chicago Kon-Tiki cocktail.
“This exotic elixir features Bye Joe Dragon Fire baijiu, aged Venezuelan rum, lychee juice, almond extract, and lime and orange juices,” says Davies. “It comes served in a unique long-moustached Fu Manchu mug.”
Wait, he isn’t done.
“This Sino-Caribbean simultaneous orgasm demonstrates how a Sorghum-based baijiu, infused with dragon fruit and hot chili, flirts mischievously with aged Venezuelan rum and exotic fruit juices,” he finishes.
The Goodbai Fu Manchu will be available from August 1 to August 9, World Baijiu Day, at The Tiki Bungalow, near Beixinqiao station. Check out the cool map below!
* Or maybe Qu Manchu, after the fermenation agent for baijiu?
Paul Mathew, who has experimented with baijiu for years, including during a long stint in China, and who has taught several classes in London, said there will be tasters and cocktails at both bars on August 9.
“The Hide will have complementary Moutai or HKB tasters for anyone who comes to the bar and wishes us ‘happy World Baijiu Day‘ on August 9,” says Mathew. He adds that Darling Monkey Nutter cocktails, made with HKB baijiu, will also be available at 20 percent off.
Likewise, Demon, Wise & Partners will also offer a taster to those offering a “happy World Baijiu Day” greeting on the ninth. The special cocktail will be Baijiu Blood & Sand, with HKB, cherry brandy, grapefruit and vermouth, at £8.
Mathew says he will also be a selection of baijiu brands at both bars for people to taste.
Sounds like a good way to try something new on a boring old Tuesday! Here are a few photos from last year’s event at The Hide:
By Jim Boyce | Richard Auffrey of the Passionate Foodie blog, now in its tenth year, has been on a baijiu roll lately: see this post, this post and this post, among many others. In the past month alone, Auffrey has tasted a bunch of baijiu brands, experimented with food pairings, and read up on Chinese drinking traditions, all from his base in Massachusetts. I asked him a few questions about his experiences.
You’ve been writing a lot about baijiu. Do you think the U.S. is ready for this spirit?
This is a great time for spirit lovers, with a surge of craft distilleries all across the world. There is a deep appreciation for unique spirits so now is an excellent time to highlight and showcase the wonders of baijiu.
Baijiu is one of the most unique spirits out there so it should appeal to many people with adventurous palates. Bartenders are always seeking something new and fascinating to use in cocktails and baijiu fits that desire.
As bartenders are often at the forefront of introducing new spirits to consumers, baijiu can spread to many consumers. Baijiu also will appeal to the myriad of people who are now concerned with terroir and a sense of place.
What’s the most common reaction when you first mention baijiu and then when people first taste it?
Befuddlement. Most people know little, if anything, about baijiu, so they ask plenty of questions about it when I raise the topic. They are intrigued when I tell them some of the details of baijiu and they want to try it.
When they try baijiu for the first time, much depends on the style / type they sample. They usually aren’t ready to appreciate a sauce aroma like Moutai, finding its smell and taste far too strong and off-putting, but if they try some of the milder styles / types, like Hong Kong Baijiu, they are surprised at how delicious it can be.
You’re tried different styles of baijiu, including sauce, strong and light aroma. Is there a particular style you think works best for first-timers?
In general, I think strong aroma baijiu might often be an excellent gateway to introduce newcomers to baijiu but there will be exceptions. Some of the earthier strong aroma baijius would not be good. Instead, seek out the fruitier, strong aroma baijiu and once people are hooked, they can move onto other baijiu.
I also noticed you’ve tried numerous baijiu cocktails, and that tropical fruit flavors tend to strike you as fitting. Is that a good basis for someone making drinks at home?
Yes, adding tropical fruit flavors to baijiu is a simple way to create a baijiu cocktail at home. During the summer, you could even make a frozen baijiu cocktail, adding ice and tropical fruit juices.
I’m continuing my own explorations of baijiu cocktails, and feel it can be quite versatile. Maybe try some baijiu, vermouth and bitters, an interesting variation of a Manhattan.
I don’t think many people realize the U.S. has a baijiu producer, Vinn Distillery in Portland. What’s your take on their baijiu?
I was impressed with the complexity and taste of Vinn baijiu, finding it reminiscent in some ways to Japanese sake. However, as it has an intriguing earthy component, I’m not sure it would appeal to many people new to baijiu, unless they experienced it in a cocktail. The family behind Vinn has been creating baijiu for over seven generations and it is truly a work of passion.
Read more of Auffrey’s posts here.