World Baijiu Day fetes the most popular spirit in the world
IT'S the most- consumed spirit on the planet, and perhaps the least well- known.
To promote the merits of Chinese baijiu – a clear, white spirit made from the cereal grain sorghum – a Western blogger who writes about China's wine and spirits scene is mobilising cities around the world to celebrate the country's unofficial drink on World Baijiu Day, which has been designated for August 8.
Jim Boyce, the voice behind Grape Wall of China and Beijing Boyce, has so far tapped bars in more than a dozen cities including New York, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Singapore, London and Paris to observe the occasion by serving the spirit in new cocktails, infusion, and food.
Though baijiu represents more than onethird of global spirit sales, the spirit is little known outside Chinese borders.
For the uninitiated, baijiu is not for the faint of heart, running between 80 to 120 proof.
Its smell and flavour have been described as everything from stinky cheese to sweaty socks, rotten fruit, soy sauce, pineapples, musk and gasoline, earning it the nickname “firewater”.
The latest figures show that between 2009 and 2013, consumption in China sky
50%, rocketed to top 1.17 billion cases of baijiu.
But that growth is expected to slow to
2.7% just by 2018, which can be explained in part by China's anti- corruption crackdown aimed at rooting out excess and abuse of powers within government ranks, and changing consumer habits.
Declining growth at home has prompted attempts for expansion abroad, where baijiu remains largely unknown, but is starting to gain traction.
New York, for instance, opened its first bar dedicated to baijiu last year, called Lumos, where mixologists mask some of its more pungent flavours with fruit juices, spirits, and lime wedges.
London hosted its third annual Baijiu Cocktail Week, and author Derek Sandhaus distilled his knowledge of China's national drink into the first English guidebook Baijiu: The Essential Guide to Chinese Spirits.
Meanwhile, participating cities in the second edition of World Baijiu Day include Beijing, Singapore, Shanghai, Taipei, Brussels, Paris, London, Sydney, New York, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Washington.
For details, www. worldbaijiuday. com.
Three- year- old Kuaijishan Shaoxing rice wine, packaged in a clay jar traditionally used to age the wine.