By Jim Boyce | Capital Spirits will partner baijiu and brain-teasers this August for a promotion that teaches people about China’s national spirit. The bar will give away prizes like drinks, vouchers and bottles to those who can identify different styles of baijiu and show knowledge about this spirit.
The promotion, from August 2 to August 7, will be led by Capital Spirits’ David Putney and is of part this year’s World Baijiu Day activities.
“The first thing we explain to any novice baijiu drinker is that ‘baijiu’ is not really a category of spirits in the way that whiskey, vodka, rum or gin are each names for a specific type of spirit made with similar ingredients and through similar processes,” states co-owner Bill Isler. “‘Baijiu’ is actually a catch-all term for any Chinese distilled spirit. It can be made from different ingredients and in different ways.”
“Comparing different styles of baijiu to one another is much more akin to comparing a whiskey to a vodka, or a rum to a gin, than comparing two whiskeys or two rums,” he adds.
Isler says baijiu faces a dual problem. One on hand, it is little-known outside of China. On the other, many foreigners living here dislike it due to the tradition of drinking it ganbei-style. Given this, the focus at Capital Spirits is on appreciation. The bar offers many different flights of baijiu that allow customers to compare and contrast styles, notably the four main ones, “light aroma”, “strong aroma”, “sauce aroma” and “rice aroma.”
“Anyone who tries each of these side by side will immediately see that ‘baijiu’ encompasses an incredibly diverse family of spirit beverages,” he says. “While occasionally a guest may dislike all four styles, in the almost two years since Capital Spirits has been open, we have yet to see a single person say ‘they all taste the same’.”