Ancient Chinese Liquor Baijiu To Invade America

Mar 10, 2016 06:40 AM EST | By Anita Valensia

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The oldest yet funkiest alcohol drink - Baijiu is popularly known as China's most favorite liquor. Americans who are accustomed to beer and wine might find Baijiu tastes like ripe fruit. However, Lumos bar owner, Orson Salicetti, philosophically explains how sipping the scarce drink can make you travel back to Chinatown and discover new spice.

Gradually being introduced in New York, the flavor of Baijiu is quite a surprise for the first time drinker. Made from sorghum (and many other grains), the high-proof, citrusy and sweet traditional liquor creates a fiery punch. Strangely, the harsh taste is a staple in China. Some people who've made a trip to China, for a business or friendly visit, are often subjected to Baijiu night. Now that it heads to the West, hip bartenders infuse it with other flavors to make amazing cocktail scenes.

According to Shawn Chen, Red Farm's beverage director, drinking Baijiu in China is like a knife fight. So, before you order a shot of the best-selling liquor in the world, you probably should know a few things about Baijiu.

Baijiu, pronounced as "bye jyoh", is actually two words. Bai means white and jiu is liquor. The so-called traditional Chinese white liquor refers to a category of alcohol drink as the taste may vary from smooth to fiery. Made from distilled fermented sorghum or other grains, it tastes so strong (80 to 120 proof) that it's not recommended to drink by the bottle. It's unlikely to drink it in a martini glass, either.

Salicetti suggests drinking the smooth-infused Baijiu with fruity flavors. This is typically favored by newbie drinkers due to the rice fragrance and its softer taste. The rum tames baijiu as it adds that earthy flavor to the mixture. The drink is quite uncommon and it's not an order that guests usually make. But for adventurous souls, baijiu definitely gives a new experience.

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