The Shuijingfang baijiu company has been struggling to market its super-strong, rancid, eye-burning firewater in the international market, for some reason. To help convert the Western consumer the company hired Jim Rice, a real live foreigner, who thinks that the baijiu mojito and martini are the way of the future.
Rice’s comments were part of an interview he held with the lovely folks at Marketplace and go as follows:
Inside Shuijingfang’s distillery in the city of Chengdu, Rice shows off a 600 year-old baijiu pit. Next to that, mounds of mud covering a fermenting mixture of grains like rice, corn, and wheat, giving off baijiu’s distinctive odor. “It’s uh sweet,” pauses Rice, choosing his descriptors carefully,”and a little bit rancid, I suppose.”
This smell — Westerners compare it to anything from nail polish to dumpster juice — is baijiu’s Achilles’ heel in markets outside of China. The Chinese drink it at room temperature, but if baijiu’s served on ice, the smell is diminished. It’s nearly erased if you mix it with other liquids. At a tasting event in California, Rice created four baijiu cocktails, including a baijiu martini and a baijiu mojito.
He says they were a hit.
It might take a bit of convincing to get the American market to delve into baijiu, but the drink may have just the right combination of strong-cheap-novelty to do alright. In this author’s opinion, however, it tastes like poison (and sometimes it actually is).
[Image via Flickr]