It’s been a wild year and a half with lots of misinformation and unnecessary violence, including the horrifying rise in hate crimes against people of Asian descent. Misunderstanding, misplaced blame and anger have showed the ugliest side of many people in this country. That’s why I chose to create a cocktail that would highlight just a couple of the beautiful things coming out of Asia using the national spirit of China: baijiu, and soju, from Korea, to create a split-based tiki-inspired cocktail.
Baijiu translates to ‘white spirits’ in Mandarin and is usually distilled from sorghum, though it also can be made from rice, wheat, corn or millet. Just like other spirits, production methods differ with the region and style. The flavors have quite a range, and I chose Ming River Sichuan, which comes from the oldest operating distillery in China — it’s 400 year old! Baijiu itself is roughly 5,000 years old.
Soju hails from Korea and is distilled from rice. Haven’t heard of soju before? You’re in the minority: Soju is the best-selling liquor in the world. It is often referred to as the ‘Korean vodka’ because of its similar flavor profile. This is good news for mixing: soju will go with most mixers, just like vodka!
Class adjourned — here’s a recipe using both spirits!
Ming River Tiki
2 ounces coconut water
1 1/2 ounces baijiu (Ming River Sichuan recommended)
1 ounce orgeat
1/2 ounce soju
1/2 ounce lychee syrup
1/4 ounce Carpano Botanic Bitter
Dash lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon white sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon butter
Melt butter in a small pan and add sesame seeds, stirring until browned. Remove from heat.
Add coconut water, baijiu, soju, and lemon juice to a shaker with ice, shake and strain into a rocks glass over a king cube. Gently pour Carpano Botanic Bitter over the top so that it creates a thin floating layer. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top for garnish.
The flavor profile is going to be tiki flavors with the creamy orgeat and the mango notes from the baijiu with the subtle fruity sweetness from the lychee. This all meets a slight bitter balance with the Carpano.
Cheers to well-crafted spirits from Asia and all over the world!