Anyone with a keen interest in ingredients, flavours and trying out new concoctions, whether that’s for the food on their plate or what’s in their glass, would perhaps be wise to keep up to date with all the latest trends and innovative developments in the culinary world. After all, who knows what your eyes might open up to next!
For cocktails, there’s one ingredient doing the rounds and currying serious favour among bartenders here, there and everywhere and that’s baijiu, a Chinese liquor characterised by a complex potency that has led it to become one of the most consumed liquors in the entire world.
In fact, last year it was found to be the most sold-spirit of 2021… so if you are looking for something new to offer your customers, baijiu could well be the one.
The liquor itself has been part of Chinese tradition for thousands of years, but to the uninitiated it can certainly be a little offputting, with an aroma oft-described as a combination of gasoline, pineapples, stinky cheese and musk.
It doesn’t sound like it would be a good addition to any cocktail, but somehow it works and the end results are often quite remarkable.
There are actually four recognised flavour profiles of baijiu: rice, sauce, light and strong. And within these parameters there is a huge range of different flavours, so you could have a great time making all sorts of never-before-seen drinks with which to wow the crowds.
The liquor is made by fermenting cooked sorghum or other grains along with a starter of crushed wheat, barley and peas that grows yeast, fungi and other microorganisms that then secrete enzymes when they come into contact with the grains. This is what produces the drink’s complex and intriguing flavour.
For a bit of inspiration where your baijiu cocktails are concerned, check out what SanYou in Guangzhou is up to. According to Drink Magazine, they have almost 200 bottles in their baijiu collection, all of which are available to taste test. There are 12 signature cocktails on the drinks list, covering everything from light and fruity to floral, fermented and funky.
If you want to give making your own baijiu cocktail a go, take your time to work out which herbs and fruits pair well with it, as well as which spirits and liqueurs complement the flavours.
For example, baijiu is a brilliant bedfellow of campari and citrus, as well as mezcal and absinthe… so you could make something incredibly potent if you’re not too careful!
Starting off simple might be a good idea, however, and a really easy baijiu cocktail is the simple yet mighty highball. All you need is a fruity rendition of baijiu, a spritz of lime and some tonic – and away you go!
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