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Baijiu, China’s national drink, has reached New York

  • 03
  • 05
  • 2016

Baijiu, one of China’s most popular drinks is now making the rounds in cocktail bars and restaurants throughout the U.S. If you haven’t tried it before, what are you waiting for?

Baijiu is a clear liquor, commonly distilled from fermented sorghum. However, white rice, wheat and barley are also popular ingredients. It can be anywhere from 40% to 60% alcohol content depending on fermentation time and ingredients and is often confused with many other Asian liquors such as Korea’s soju or Japan’s shocho and .

Bartenders around the U.S. have fallen in love with the drinks versatility, pairing baijiu with white rum, pineapple juice, peach liqueur, lime and basil, creating a modern twist to the popular Singapore Sling. The bartenders claim that while it’s not uncommon for people to send it back, many actually order a second.

Derek Sandhaus, the author of “Baijiu: The Essential Guide to Chinese Spirits,” stated that in China there are thousands of brands of baijiu, ranging in price from cheaper than a bottle of water to aged bottles which can sell for tens of thousands of dollars.

Derek says that there is a massive range in the variety and flavors of baijiu, and people new to the drink can be easily overwhelmed. For non-Chinese drinkers, the aroma has loosely been described as a mix between pineapples, musk, gasoline, anise and old cheese.

In New York, the popularity of the versatile liquor is increasing, and cocktails made with baijiu are served in popular fine dining restaurants such as Red Farm, the Peninsula Hotel, the Park Hyatt Hotel and La Chine, just to name a few.

La Chine, a new and upper class Chinese restaurant in the Waldorf Astoria, goes to great lengths to ensure diners are able to pair the perfect baijiu with their dishes. Markus Tschuschnig, the general manager of La Chine, believes that “in general, baijiu helps to refresh and reset your palate during a big meal.”

Photo credits: Gnoparus/TonyV3112

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