3 of a Kind: Baijiu

Find out which celebratory liquor is joining vodka, gin and the rest of the crew as a popular spirit.

Related To:

Peking Coffee

3 of a Kind checks out three places across the country to try something cool, new and delicious.

In the not-too-distant past, most Americans had never heard of baijiu. Most probably still have not. But this ancient Chinese spirit — made from sorghum and/or rice — is actually the most heavily consumed alcoholic beverage in the world, due largely in part to an avid fan base in China. The potent liquor (many brands are 100-proof and higher) has recently begun making headway in the United States, particularly at top-tier cocktail bars. With varying flavor profiles that range from gentle (with rice and pear notes) to heady and slightly nutty, this celebratory liquor is joining vodka, gin and the rest of the crew as a popular spirit.

This Los Angeles bar brought the Chinese drink to the spirit-loving masses of Southern California, offering top brands in assorted cocktails. The most popular and regular option is the Peking Coffee, which is essentially a Chinese-Mexican-Irish coffee. Equal parts Red Star baijiu, horchata liqueur and coffee liqueur are shaken, strained, poured into a coupe glass, dusted with cinnamon and garnished with a whole cinnamon stick.

Goji Cocktail

Opened in fall 2015 by Qifan Li and former Apotheke lead bartender Orson Salicetti, New York City’s Lumos is the first dedicated baijiu bar in the country. The cocktail list includes pages of baijiu-focused drinks, shots and infusions. The most refreshing is the Goji, which combines goji berry-infused baijiu, mezcal, pink grapefruit, lime, organic agave nectar and orange bitters. The result is akin to a slightly smoky, complex version of a paloma.

Vinn Baijiu and Dragon's Tail Cocktail

This family-owned Portland, Ore., distillery handcrafts its own rice-based products, including a popular baijiu that is thought to be the only brand produced and bottled in the United States. Its tasting room offers samples as well as mini cocktails created by local mixologist Robbie Wilson. Dragon’s Tail is a favorite. Equal parts Vinn Baijiu and Lillet Blanc are mixed with fresh grapefruit and a bar spoon of maraschino liqueur, shaken and strained, then served with a grapefruit twist.

Next Up

Chefs’ Picks: Frozen Cocktails

Chill out with the pros’ picks for the coolest frozen drinks across the country.

Chefs’ Picks: Apres Ski

Four ski town chefs divulge their favorite apres-ski dishes, drinks and destinations.

3 of a Kind: Curry Cocktails

Curry has become one of the more popular flavors in mixology, adding an unexpected twist to classic cocktails.

3 of a Kind: Cascara Drinks

With the flavor of an herbal tea and a java-like jolt of caffeine, cascara is a refreshing, energizing and waste-free alternative to coffee. Here are three places using it in cool ways.

3 of a Kind: Shakshouka

Shakshouka is a savory egg entree made with tomatoes, peppers and onions that's popular in Israel. Here are a few creative ways it's being adapted by chefs in America.

3 of a Kind: Togarashi

Feeling the heat? Check out a chile-laced spice blend that is elevating everything from cheesecake to cocktails.

3 of a Kind: Scraps

Sending something to the scrapheap used to mean dooming it to its demise, but restaurants across the country are now making the most of scraps, turning carrot tops, bread butts, corn silks and more into incredible dishes that are worth saving and sav

3 of a Kind: Tea Desserts

Put a new spin on tea and dessert with tea-flavored desserts, like Earl Grey pie and chamomile pots de creme.

3 of a Kind: Artisan Ice

Find out how creative bartenders are shaking up the cocktail scene with innovative ice cubes in unexpected flavors.

3 of a Kind: Montanara Pizza

This smoky masterpiece is one deeply satisfying pie.