Number 76: Baijiu

13 Mar

Just in time for St. Paddy’s Day, I bring you a post about booze!  Alright, it’s about Chinese booze, but that’s still booze.  This past weekend, when I went to Chinatown, I was on the hunt for something special: baijiu.  Baijiu is a grain alcohol made from sorghum, and supposedly it can strip paint off your walls, if you know what I mean.  I had heard of a place in Chinatown (aptly named China Place Liquor City) that sold many different kinds of baijiu, and immediately upon entering, I felt overwhelmed and confused.

There was booze everywhere and English nowhere.  Not only were the bottle labels in Chinese, but the pricing labels beneath them were, as well.  I could tell what was wine (wine bottles) and what was sake (wine bottles with Japanese writing), but everything else was a mystery to me…except for the mini bottles of Patron, which seemed strangely out of place.

I finally gave in and asked one of the employees if what I was looking at was baijiu.  It was!  (I am amazing.)  I tried to ask which other bottles in the store were baijiu, but there seemed to be a bit of a communication breakdown there.  I ended up buying the first bottle I had seen, which cost 26 bucks.  This made me feel sick, as the descriptions of baijiu I had heard compared it to smelly socks and paint thinner.  I was not happy to spend that much money on something I was going to hate.  And, boy, was I going to hate it.

Just by smelling the baijiu, I could tell that it was going to make me want to die.  It smelled like nail polish mixed with whiskey, and I’m not a huge fan of drinking either one of those.  My first sip confirmed my suspicions.  It was HORRIBLE.  It had a slight sweet flavor (Dan described it as “rotten orange juice”) and also a licorice-y taste that lingered in the background.  The worst part was that it seemed to transform in my mouth from cold to warm and from thin to thick.  I don’t know if this actually happened, but it sure as hell felt like it!  Every time I tried to hold the baijiu in my mouth to taste the flavors, I had to spit it out.  I managed to get a single sip down, and my throat burned for about 15 minutes afterwards.

The only thing about the experience that made me happy was the super awesome Jagermeister deer head shot glass that Dan acquired a few years ago.  In an attempt to put the horrible taste of baijiu out of my mind, I’m going to end this post with a photo of the shot glass that brings so much joy to my life.  Thank you, shot glass, for helping me forget.

Obviously, this one wasn’t a hit.  I spat out more than I drank, and what I drank almost burned a hole in my throat.  I don’t know if it was quite as bad as the absinthe I had in Prague, but it definitely made its way into my top 3 Drinks to Avoid list.


5 Responses to “Number 76: Baijiu”

  1. IntenseGuy March 14, 2012 at 7:15 am #


    So now you got the “Costco economy sixed bottle of nail polish remover”. Does it work well for that?

    You are really brave and dedicated to this project! I’ve been much impressed.

  2. Laura in Cancun March 14, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    Best shot glass I’ve ever seen!

    (Patron??? WTF?)

  3. Kelly @ Dare to be Domestic March 15, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    This makes absinth sound like a cake walk. Ugh… I hate American Pure Grain I can’t imagine this would taste any better… Thanks for taking one for the team. If anything you’ve warned us all to never try this on our own, so thank you!

    P.S. Love that shot glass. My friend has one. She conned one of our friends into buying the Jager JUST so she could have the shot glass… I want to take it from her every time I see it. It rocks.

  4. Cathy March 30, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    You need to save this for when I come down to Chicago, so we can drink it together. Because I really want to try it.

  5. Jahn Ghalt May 3, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    From wikipedia:

    “Drunken shrimp is a popular dish in portions of China based on fresh-water shrimp that are often eaten alive, but stunned in a strong liquor—baijiu (白酒)—to make consumption easier.”

    I wonder if this was the dish served in the T-Mobile Ad with Yao Ming, Charles Barkley, and Duane Wade?

    Google “eat the head” and “youtube” for this hilarious ad.

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