By Jim Boyce | Out of the blue this week, I received a message from former Beijing bar owner Joseph Kornides, he who started the diminutive 12sqm Bar and created a baijiu cocktail called Baijiu Blizzard a decade ago. Kornides returned to Melbourne several years ago and says will soon open a new bar, Whisky Den, on the eve World Baijiu Day. Fortuitous timing!
“Opening a bar in my hometown had always been a goal of mine and after a couple of years of searching, I found a small space in the heart of downtown that was begging for a cozy bar fit out,” writes Kornides. “Months and months of permit applications and licensing requirements are now behind me and have resulted in another small bar punching well above its weight: Whisky Den.”
While whisky is the focus, he says other spirits will also have a place, including China favorite baijiu.
“It just so happens that the opening date is August 8, the day before World Baijiu Day, so in honour of that milestone and my ten years of service to the birthplace of baijiu, I am offering a cocktail for one night only that I invented many years ago in the hutongs of Beijing,” he says.
That would be the Baijiu Blizzard.
Kornides says he had a bad experience with baijiu on a Yangtze river cruise in 2000—”a group of overly hospitable locals insisted I join them for plenty of ganbeis. The only problem was the restaurant ran out of small glasses so they happily supplied me with an empty rice bowl”—and he thus decided to find a more palatable way to enjoy this spirit.
The Baijiu Blizzard includes baijiu, Frangelico, milk and a secret ingredient, and he described the concoction as “quite sweet and smooth.” Ask for one on August 8 at opening night of Whisky Den.
Whisky Den is at 2B, 27 Russell Street, Melbourne.