Bars across London are set to celebrate China’s world-leading spirit with special drinks and menus for Baijiu Cocktail Week in February.
Original cocktails will be available at some of the capital’s top bars and restaurants to demonstrate the versatility of what is the biggest-selling spirit in the world but little known in the West.
Now in its third year, the celebration runs from February 5 to 14, tying in with Chinese New Year on February 8 – the year of the monkey. It is organised by London-based SeeWoo Foods, a specialist supplier of Asian food and drink.
Bars and restaurants already set to take part include 68 & Boston, Demon Wise & Partners, Opium, The Hide, China Tang at The Dorchester, Bó Drake, Hutong at The Shard, Nam Long and Ping Pong.
Drinks will include 600th Monkey (pictured top) at Demon, Wise & Partners, mixing Shui Jing Fang baijiu, Admiral Rodney rum, house-made falernum and a house shrub made with honey vinegar, peanuts and vanilla pepper.
At 68 & Boston, the Pixiu (pictured below) will be made by mixing baijiu with Spanish liqueur Licor 43, crème de cacao dark, Bob’s Chocolate Bitters and Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, served with an ice diamond and garnished with a salted caramel rim and chocolate pieces.
The Darling Monkey Nutter at The Hide combines Shui Jing Fang baijiju with Fairview Darling Chenin Blanc and the bar’s own “monkey nut” shrub made with peanuts, Pedro Ximénez sherry and lemon thyme.
Participating brands include premium baijiu Shui Jing Fang, which is produced by China’s first baijiu distillery, founded more than 600 years ago.
Baijiu has been tipped as a spirit to watch in 2016 after the arrival of new brands such as HKB. In November last year, Nam Long in Chelsea created a bar dedicated to baijiu while, over in New York City, a baijiu bar was launched at Lumos in Greenwich Village.
In a section dedicated to baijiu in Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley’s book Distilled, the spirit is described as not easily accessible to Western palates, with herbal, slightly fruity, hay and medicinal flavours plus notes of soy sauce. It can be made from a variety of grains such as wheat, sorghum, barley and sometimes rice and beans, fermented and distilled. Leading brands include Wenjun, part of LVMH’s portfolio, and Quanxing, part of Diageo.
Bars looking to take part should visit www.baijiucocktailweek.co.uk.