Monday, August 7, 2017

Rant: Drink Holidays & World Baijiu Day

There is National Chardonnay Day and National Cabernet Sauvignon Day. There are also Wine Days celebrating Merlot, Moscato and Champagne. Plus, there are Drink Days celebrating everything from Rum to Egg Nog, Margaritas to Mai Tais. The basic idea behind such days is to promote a grape, wine, beer, spirit or cocktail, and savvy marketers take the opportunity to highlight and push their products. However, do we really need all of these wine/drink holidays?

For the more popular choices, like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, I don't think we especially need a special day to showcase these grapes. They are already hugely popular and there are many other grapes more worthy of attention, grapes which are less popular or less known. There are plenty of under appreciated grapes and wines, such as Assyrtiko, Rkatsiteli, or Sherry, which would benefit much more from their own special day. They need the publicity, to boost their sales and recognition. There are other alcohols worthy of more attention to, from Mezcal to Sake.

I would much rather see days celebrating the drink underdogs, helping to gain them recognition and new fans. I want people to broaden their palates, and taste something new for them. They need to be enticed to step out of their comfort zone. For example, Sake is still vastly under appreciated in the U.S. so having a day that celebrates and promotes it makes sense. Did you know International Sake Day has existed since 1978? That makes it far older than most, if not all, of the other wine and drink holidays.

This Wednesday, August 9, is World Baijiu Day, a holiday created by Jim Boyce, who runs the nightlife blog Beijing Boyce and wine blog Grape Wall of ChinaThe intent of the day is to raise awareness of Baijiu, to highlight its wonders beyond the borders of China. Even though Baijiu is the most popular spirit in the world, most Americans know little, if anything about it. As I've said before, Baijiu seems to be the Durian fruit of the spirits world, both having a reputation for funkiness which turns off some people, while others become fervent fans. It is a compelling beverage and I strongly encourage everyone to seek it out and sample some of its wonders.

When is the last time you saw a Boston-area writer pen an article about Baijiu? It is a rarity, indicating that more attention needs to be paid to this spirit. Not enough people are writing and talking about this unique beverage, despite its fascinating history, production methods, and customs. We need to change this and World Baijiu Day can help spread the word, and maybe entice more writers to talk about Baijiu.

Last year, I wrote seven articles about Baijiu, covering a diverse selection of topics, from Baijiu reviews to an detailed explanation of its production methods. This is a great place to start your education about Baijiu.  

Baijiu: The Durian Fruit Of The Spirits World (Part 1)
Baijiu: Its Unique Production Process (Part 2)
Baijiu: Drinking Etiquette & Some Reviews (Part 3)
Baijiu: Cocktails, Boston & World Baijiu Day (Part 4)
Baijiu: Food Pairings (Part 5)
Vinn Bajiu: Made in Portland
Baijiu: The Essential Guide To Chinese Spirits by Derek Sandhaus

In celebration of World Baijiu Day, there will be events held all over the world, from Beijing to Liverpool, Stockholm to Los Angeles. In the Boston area, there is a single restaurant celebrating this holiday: Sumiao Hunan Kitchen, a new restaurant in Kendall Square, Cambridge. Sumiao carries five different Baijiu, including three by the bottle, Maotai ($288), Wuliangye ($188) and Luhzou Laojiao ($118), and two by the glass, Hong Kong ($11) and Jiannanchun ($16).

In addition, they have four Baijiu cocktails ($14 each), including: Schrodinger’s Coupe with Hong Kong, curaco, grapefruit, lime and plum bitters; Ice Cold Fusion with Mianzhu Daqu, cognac, triple sec and lemon; Perpetual Motion with Mianzhu Daqu, blood orange, lime, elderflower liqueur and mint; and, Pyroclastic Punch with Hong Kong, Fruitlab hibiscus liqueur, passionfruit cordial and lemon. Check out my prior post about Sumiao, with my thoughts on all four of these delicious cocktails.

Baijiu is also becoming more readily available at liquor shops in the U.S., though previously you might not have even realized it existed. Baijiu may be hugely popular in Asia but it needs much greater exposure in the rest of the world, including in the U.S. It is a unique and delicious spirit and well worth seeking out. This is a Drink Day that I wholeheartedly support and hope that everyone else takes this opportunity to acquaint themselves with Baijiu. Stop by the new Sumiao Hunan Kitchen, experience some of their tasty Hunanese cuisine, and have a Baijiu cocktail. I plan on stopping there at lunch time for a Baijiu cocktail. Will I see you there?

Expand your palate and try something different and more unique. Drink some Baijiu and celebrate World Baijiu Day!

1 comment:

acdemo said...

Thanks for mentioning World Baijiu Day, Richard! I'll be joining a food snack, five baijiu pairing here at Pop-Up in Beijing on August 9 and then, for those who can't come out on a school night, will be at Q Bar on the Friday, August 11, where there will be flights of both international and local baijius as well as a new lineup of cocktails. Hope you have a fun one! Cheers, Jim