World Baijiu Day focuses on a spirit more common than vodka, whiskey or rum, but little known outside China. Baijiu is a potent grain spirit that typically has a 53% kick and represents one third of global hard liquor production.
China makes the vast majority of baijiu, about 10 billion liters each year, enough to fill 4,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. (That much baijiu poured into shot glasses and stacked would reach the moon.)
World Baijiu Day aims to make this spirit better known. Since the first WBD in 2015, partners in 50-plus cities have held events—from Melbourne to Minsk, Stockholm to Singapore, Los Angeles to Lima—on August 9. The numbers for August 9 are ‘ba’ and ‘jiu’ in Mandarin, and sound close to baijiu.
Some photos from last year’s World Baijiu Day, held in dozens of cities:
Baijiu is pronounced ‘bye joe”, translates to “white alcohol” and uses production techniques with roots thousands of years old. (Booze has been made in China for at least 8,000 years.)
Bajjiu is drunk as warm straight shots to the toast of ‘ganbei” or ‘dry glass’ (‘bottoms up’). As this isn’t common in many nations, one World Baijiu Day theme is ‘beyond ganbei’. Partners have been very creative over the years in making baijiu-inspired cocktails, infusions, liqueurs, chocolate, pizza and more. Even deep-fried baijiu.
Finally, this event is not meant to convince everyone to become a baijiu lover. The goal is to give people the chance to try one of the planet’s most intriguing spirits. And for those who have tried baijiu and didn’t like it, perhaps due to heavy ‘ganbei’ sessions, a chance to give it another taste. It’s also a reason to get creative and have fun!
Cheers, Jim Boyce