Bill Isler, co-owner of Capital Spirits, talks to Phoenix Kwon of the South China Morning Post in this article about promoting a positive image of baijiu in China.
Describing his initial experience with baijiu, while as a student at Tsingua University in Beijing in 2000, as “awful”, Isler said it was only a dozen years later when, while working on a project in Inner Mongolia, that he gradually acquired a taste for this white spirit. That, and meeting like-minded foreigners during a baijiu seminar by author Derek Sandhous, helped convince him and several friends of a greater interest in the spirit.
“Like me, many foreigners have had bad experiences with baijiu because they were forced to drink it a lot at banquets. But at the talk, I discovered that many people were curious about it, even if they didn’t love it.”
Partner Simon Dang proposed the idea of a bar, Matthias Heger on board as it would provide a showcase for Westkorn, his German vodka, and planning started, helped in great deal by Isler’s previous Beijing bar industry experience.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
“What has been the reaction from local customers and is it different to the foreigners?”
“Everybody is very curious, but what they’re curious about is very different. The foreigners are curious about the actual drinks, while Chinese customers are curious about us and why we are doing this. For foreigners, right now it’s more out of curiosity, but I think that will change over time. In fact, we’ve started to see a change, as we’re getting some customers coming back again.”
You can read the full interview here.