Before you make up your mind on China’s ubiquitous firewater, the beers and spirits of the Baijiu Society are here to challenge your perspectives.
You can’t long in Asia, especially in China, without having the local hooch thrust upon you. Clear, with an aroma that’s like a right cross to the face from your local florist, baijiu is a distilled rice or sorghum spirit that’s consumed in extraordinary amounts (about 10 billion litres per year) across Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and in Chinese communities beyond. Like vodka, baijiu’s quality can vary greatly, from spirit that doubles as BBQ cleaner, to prized bottles enjoyed on special occasions. However, despite this diversity, the category has always struggled to penetrate the contemporary cocktail scene.
Created by founder Craig Butler and produced in the United Kingdom, Baijiu Society is all about capturing the timelessness of China’s most popular spirit and adapting it for today’s contemporary consumers, both as beer and as a selection of cocktail-friendly spirits.
Perfectly suited for the chillier months of winter, Baijiu Society beers are typically served slightly warmer than regular brews to allow the floral aromas of the baijiu to be released. There’s The Original, with subtle touches of pear and vanilla, and a smooth, velvety carbonation, with hints of hops and vanilla on the finish; and Premium, an intense beer with pear and citrus on the nose and sweetness on its rounded finish. Also keep your eyes open for the VVIP Baijiu Beer, an imperial stout that’s bottle-aged for up to a decade and available exclusively through Baijiu Society’s VVIP Club.
Something a Little Stronger
Then there’s the line of Baijiu Society spirits, all designed to be incorporated into contemporary cocktails, highballs, or enjoyed solo over ice. The Spirit of Society is a 40%ABV dram with spiced botanicals like clove and cinnamon, and subtle touches of pear. With its intensely dry finish, it’s a great alternative to gin in a martini or gin and tonic.
In contrast, the Spirit of Love boasts an intense cherry aroma with a light baijiu funkiness that’s accentuated by cherry and almond on the palate, making it a great base for fruitier cocktails and lighter highballs.
The Spirit of Prosperity is packed with citrus flavours, including yuzu and orange, as well as a medium intensity baijiu aroma. Clean and crisp, it lends itself to summer libations, spiked seltzers, and traditional vodka cocktails.
The Spirit of Family also features a medium baijiu flavour profile, with bright fruit notes of lychee and pear and a long, smooth finish, making it perfect for punches and blended cocktails.
Finally, the Spirit of Life is a baijiu dominated with peach and pear notes with touches of honey and crisp citrus that makes it an ideal base for tropical cocktails made with fresh juice and good ice, or even served neat with a citrus garnish.
For a sweeter interlude, Baijiu Blac is an intense baijiu and coffee liqueur bottled at 22%ABV. With a smooth coffee and anise nose, and a warm, smooth finish, the spirit offers an innovative take on the classic espresso martini or Irish Coffee.
Or perhaps that should be a Chengdu Coffee.
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