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mbanu

Chinese cocktail culture

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Found these here, along with some other cocktails incorporating western ingredients.

Never realized China had it's own cocktail culture, with an entire set of indigenous ingredients and such. :) How cool.

"Coral Reef"

35ml Fen Chiew

20ml Blue Mint Wine

Put pieces of ice cubes into the shaker. Pour 35ml Fen Chiew and 20ml blue mint wine. Shake well into a cocktail glass. Embellish it with cherries.

"Golden Sun"

1 spoon sugar

10 ml Chu Yeh Ching Chiew

30 ml Daqu Liquor

Put 3 ice cubes into a glass. Let one spoon of sugar melt in the glass. Pour 10ml Chu Yeh Ching Chiew and 30ml Daqu Liquor. Stir until it cools. Serve in a cocktail glass. Embellish it with a slice of lemon and a bamboo leaf.

"Spring Green"

5ml simple syrup

10ml coconut milk

30ml Chu Yeh Ching Chiew

Put the above ingredients into the shaker in order. Shake for ten seconds and pour it into a wine glass. Embellish it with a cherry.

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What is Fen Chiew, Blue Mint Wine, Chu Yeh Ching Chiew, and Daqu Liquor? Are there places in the States to find these things?


"Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more." Proverbs 31: 6-7

Julia

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Funny you should post this -- just read the other day how a Chivas Regal and green tea cocktail :wacko: is all the rage in Shanghai...


Edited by Joe Blowe (log)

So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

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What is Fen Chiew, Blue Mint Wine, Chu Yeh Ching Chiew, and Daqu Liquor?  Are there places in the States to find these things?

Fen Chiew (fen jiu) is unaged sorghum liquor, I think.

Chu Yeh Ching Chiew (zhu ye qing jiu) is a liquor in the category of gin, absinthe and chartreuse, I think; they take a raw spirit and infuse it with chinese botanicals.

Daqu (Da gu jiu) is sort of like a chinese whiskey, as far as I can tell. They take a mash that's a blend of various grains (sorghum, rice, glutinous rice, wheat, millet, corn, barley, etc.) and after distsilling age them for extended periods, only in clay or ceramic pottery instead of in wood, apparently.

No clue about the blue mint wine, or the name of a good importer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_wine


Edited by mbanu (log)

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You can find most of these in your local asian supermart (or should I say chinese supermart).

Do note that prices are comparable to european liquor (a good mao tai runs about $20-30) and some do contain higher concentrations of alcohol by volume (eg Kaoliang about 55% abv)

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There's a famous Five Grain "Du Kang" spirit that comes from China that has a red and gold label on it, but the name escapes me. The stuff is really harsh and very high proof.

EDIT: I'm talking about "Wu Liang Ye"

http://www.cbw.com/company/wuliangye/index.html


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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A year and a half back or so I did a piece for Esquire on this topic. I went to the best-stocked Chinese liquor store here in new York (it's on Elizabeth St; I can't recall the name offhand) and bought an armful of different things and tried to make cocktails with them. I was very cocky about this--how hard can it be, right? You take the high-proof moutai (sorghum liquor), cut it with the low-proof xiaoshing (rice wine) and you've got a Chinese Martini, no?

No. It turned out to be extremely difficult to come up with a palatable drink, at least by my standards and those of my guinea p--friends. Most Chinese drinks, it turns out, use little cakes of fermented and mouldy rice to start fermentation, and as Dave Pickerell (the guy who makes Maker's Mark) once told me, the only things you can't get rid of by careful distilling are a burnt taste or a moldy one. This gives all the various strong wines, liquors and herbal liqueurs a kind of damp-basement taste that woulf take a good deal of acquiring.

Anyway, to make a long story short, after much tinkering and many pulled faces, I finally managed to come up with three drinks that were pretty good; one, which I call "The East Is Pink," was even quite good, IMHO. Have I made it again, though? Nope.

Here are the recipes:

The East is Pink

Stir well with cracked ice:

2 oz Mei Kuei Lu Chiew (=“Rose dew liquor”—basically, Moutai with rose petals)

3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

2 dashes Fee’s Orange Bitters

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon simple syrup

Strain into chilled cocktail glass and squeeze a twist of thin-cut lemon peel over the top.

No. 1 Son

Shake well with cracked ice:

3 oz Hua Tiao Chiew (=dry xiaoshing, or strong rice wine)

1/2 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz Monin orgeat (or other almond syrup)

1 oz canned sugarcane juice

3 dashes Angostura bitters.

Pour unstrained into tall glass and spear with a straw.

Long March

Shake well with cracked ice:

2 oz cognac (ok, I cheated a little here)

1/2 oz Sze Chuan Dah Poo Chiew (=ten-herb liqueur; sort of a Chinese Bénédictine)

1/2 oz fresh-squeezed orange juice

Strain into chilled cocktail glass that has had its rim wet with orange juice and dipped in superfine sugar.


aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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Oh man this is making me ill just thinking about it. I got into some kind of ridiculous early twenties (mine, not the decade's) drinking contest in a little town in Southern China called Yang shua. Big on the Lonely Planet circuit. It was with some Chinese men, turns out they were cops from a much bigger city nearby, and we were drinking a chinese liquor called bai jo. That's phonetic. I was sick for a week. I will never forget that night, at least the parts I remember. Chinese drinks are outs for me. Yao. Apparently saying fuck you to a chief of police is a bad idea even if he and you are in the depths of delerious salubriousness. Fellow travelers claim I'm lucky not to've ended up in a ditch. I can attest that I did end up in a ditch. Luckily, I guess, I was the one who put me there.


Edited by ned (log)

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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Moutai....ooof....the FOULEST liquor on the face of the earth. Once upon a time, I too thought, "Yeah, sure; easy". I purchased 1 bottle of the stuff, and opened it up. It was like unleashing an evil genie; all the most horrific, putrid aromas of the universe just wafted up into my face, and then overwhelmed the kitchen. I literally gagged, and then threw the top back on. It was so foul that I couldn't even sample it.

The bottle still sits in the kitchen to this day; it's a red & white thing that loosely resembles a short, fat stick of dynamite. At 106 proof, too. I let it sit there to remind me; never again.

Audrey

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Is this foulness an inherent characteristic of these drinks, or is it evidence that only the cruddy products get exported over to us? Imagine if your impression of Western booze was formed solely on the basis of spirits too cruddy to serve in well drinks here...

Are there better versions of this stuff, or is the stank an essential element in the appreciation of Chinese booze?


Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Another rumination on chinese fermentation and distillation: There are fine chinese beers out there, e.g tsing tao, that have no funk. So the technique of stank-free fermentation is well established over there.

Anybody know of any distilled malt beverages in the whisky family being made in China? Do stank-free western beverages sell well over there?? Do they even compete? Chinese consumer nationalism is an old habit... it figured well into the tea trade and the opium wars back in the day...


Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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There's a cognac, I think, that they call XO, expensive by Chinese standards but also kind of ubiquitous. I don't know where it's made. . .


You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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Another rumination on chinese fermentation and distillation:  There are fine chinese beers out there, e.g tsing tao, that have no funk.  So the technique of stank-free fermentation is well established over there.

Tsingtao was originally a Beck's factory, as part of the short-lived German colonialization of China, from 1897-1914. Beck's opened the first brewery there in 1903 and some of the original vats that are in use still say "Beck's" on them. The beer is still brewed pretty much to the same specs as the original Beck's.

http://www.dhm.de/ausstellungen/tsingtau/tsingtau_e.html


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I was at a beer making class this past week, where the teacher made the point that it is only through coincidence and culture that yeast became our fermenter of choice. There are plenty of other fungus out there that could do the job; but, western brewing traditions are based on yeast, and our flavor expectations are based on what yeast brings to the party.

My guess is it had something to do with making bread with wild yeast as a leavening agent, a batch of sour dough starter that smelled ok, etc. Next thing you know, you've got beer.

In cultures with no bread to speak of, and no tradition of yeast fermentation, other fungii fill that niche and bring their own special flavors to the table.

As my Chinese Civilization prof. in College said, "100 flavors of tea, and one flavor of alcohol, old socks".


Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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It's no surprise you have to stretch to make a decent drink with Chinese booze. In the US, most hard alcohol ends up getting consumed in a cocktail. So of course alcohols that mix well become popular, while those that demand to be taken straight generally turn into niche products. There's a certain amount of tail wagging the dog that doesn't so much happen in China.

Europe also has less of a cocktail culture, I recall visiting Eastern Europe and getting plum or apricot wines that were unbearably sweet (much sweeter and stronger than what is brought to the US) and would be probably unusable in a decent cocktail.

And bread has always been big in most of China. Also there's other Chinese beers that are about the same quality as Tsing Tao (ie nothing to brag about). Yanjing comes to mind.

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And bread has always been big in most of China.

I knew that when I posted, dunno why I put that in there, aside from the fact that I had consumed a fair bit of fermented beverages myself, and felt a need for grand statements.

I will also note plum "wine" is not wine at all; but, plums steeped in white alcohol and sugar. It has more in common with Sloe Gin than wine.

I think, though, my larger point is still valid. After a very basic level, taste is largely a matter of cultural conditioning. The flavors we find attractive in our various cultures should never be assumed to be universal.

Some questions I don't know the answer to.

Did the idea of fermented grain beverages using items aside from rice exist in Asian/Chinese culture prior to the arrival of Western ambassadors? Is yeast used to ferment these beverages?

Even larger and slightly off topic questions.

Distillation is largely held to have been invented in the Middle East some time prior to the 13th century. Is there an even older tradition of Chinese distillation? Or was it transferred through trade, as it was to the West?


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Here's the culprit. I found this bottle some years ago (it's still full today) at a liquor store in Chinatown. Curious to see if it was over-indulgence or the noxious beverage itself that was the cause of my distress. I and a few others smelled the stuff. Responses were uniformly negative although one fool did offer to take a shot in exchange for twenty dollars.

gallery_14011_31_288523.jpg


You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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Did the idea of fermented grain beverages using items aside from rice exist in Asian/Chinese culture prior to the arrival of Western ambassadors?  Is yeast used to ferment these beverages? 

Distillation is largely held to have been invented in the Middle East some time prior to the 13th century.  Is there an even older tradition of Chinese distillation?  Or was it transferred through trade, as it was to the West?

After doing some research, it appears that yes, fermented grain beverages were a part of Chinese culture prior to the arrival of Western trade partners. Not sure about the yeast question. My guess is no.

As far as I can tell most sources say heat distillation was developed some time B.C. in China, Mesopotamia, and Egypt and then further perfected by "Arabs". The Chinese are reputed to have used the resulting substances medicinally and the Middle Easterns in Cosmetics and perfumes. Though some sources say that separate from these examples, Mongolian cultures developed cold distillation, probably for beverages.

PS. I found this timeline on Modern Drunkard to be particularly amusing, if not entirely germaine to my research.

http://www.moderndrunkardmagazine.com/issu...ry_of_hooch.htm

added pointless; but, amusing, off topic link


Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Ok, I'm going to try and ignore the whole number one son thing, which I find mildly offensive in a Confucius say, Charlie Chan, kind of way.

But c'mon people, nearly every culture uses yeast to brew booze since nearly the dawn of time. I find it incredulous that this would come as any sort of surprise. I don't buy the "it's chance" that yeast is dominant argument either, but that could be a long and boring to most biology/anthropology argument, so I'll abstain. However, yeast is frequently used along side other fellow fermenter/flavor additions and not just in those strange exotic Asian lands... for instance, while sake is brewed with both yeast and fungi, many fine Belgian beers utilize both yeast and bacteria, and more then one strain of the wee beasties.

There is a very long history of using yeast to brew up something alcoholic in China, and not only that, but there are dessert/snacks based on eating the sticky rice that has been left over from fermenting. All those famous poets would get tanked on rice wine and write some of their best stuff. Rice wine can be really tasty and a good thing, and so can the distilled stuff, but that has been rarer in my experience. Some of the nicest rice wines I've had have been ones brewed at home and then aged. You can buy supplies for it (the yeast cakes and sticky rice) in any big Asian grocery store. Chinese aren't alone in this practice of course, I find Ch'ongju (sp?), a Korean sticky rice wine really tasty and worth drinking too.

I haven't bumped into any good hard stuff for sale here, just things that have been brought over. Most of the expensive stuff I've come in contact with has other stuff, like very expensive ginseng roots, stuffed in there too. Beer usually gets it's "funk" from hop aromatics oxidizing, so I'm not sure it's a valid comparison that if there is ok beer, there must be ok hard stuff.

Western booze is a huge status symbol and gets drunk in some interesting ways, i.e., XO cognac and Coke, fine French wine and Sprite, etc. Bad, yes, but hardly any worse then some of the shit in a glass that gets served all over the US. I don't think any country can claim the monopoly on bad booze.

regards,

trillium

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My commentary about Chinese beers was aimed at the assertion that all Chinese fermentation is the result of moldy rice cakes being pitched in, and that the moldy flavor was therefore inescapable in a distilled product.

And the moldy socks odor was the "funk" I was referring to, as well as the "stank". I was being imprecise.

I've never met a Chinese rice wine or a Korean one. How do they compare to sake? I've tried a pretty broad range of sakes, from clear dry ones, to cloudy sweet ones, to oxidized sweet-sherry type ones well balanced in a sauturnes-kind-of-way. Are any or all of those styles also done in places not Japan?

What are the major styles of rice wine in China? How commonly are they distilled?


Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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What are the major styles of rice wine in China?  How commonly are they distilled?

Hopefully some of the other folks will supply more personal anecdotes or descriptions, however, I found this ehaustive website, apparently created by a student or grad student at a Chinese University, to be rather fascinating.

"Grandiose Survey of Chinese Alcoholic Drinks and Beverages"

http://www.sytu.edu.cn/zhgjiu/umain.htm

Who can disagree with topic titles like, "Alcoholic Drinking Occurred in Harmony with the Existence of the Universe"?

edited for usage


Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Ok, I'm going to try and ignore the whole number one son thing, which I find mildly offensive in a Confucius say, Charlie Chan, kind of way. 

Entirely my bad. I aimed at cheeky and hit offensive. Thoughtless and stupid.

As for Moutai, etc. The stuff I was playing around with is the one in Ned's picture (and, I belive, Audrey's description). I also had some bamboo-leaf chiu, the rose-petal chiu and a few other things. By olfactory evidence, they all rely on the jiuqu, the moldy rice cakes, for fermentation (and no, Tsingtao beer doesn't use them, but as Jason points out, it's essentially a Western product--just like soy sauce made here in the USA is essentially an Asian product). My point about these wasn't that they're not yeast: they do indeed contain yeast. But they also contain molds (often in carefully cultivated and selected strains), something which the Western distilling tradition rigorously excludes.

I'm not going to go along with Audrey and say that this moutai and the other stuff I was trying are the foulest things I've ever tasted (that dubious honor is shared by Thai centipede wine and this thing I had recently in London that had the nerve to call itself an Old-Fashioned). Some of them appeared to be quite carefully made and well aged. But the "cellar taste" or "soy bouquet" (as I've seen it called) is pervasive and, like stinky cheese, it's a taste that has to be acquired. I didn't acquire it, but then again I only spent a week or two working on the article. I did try everything more than once, some much more.

As for WoBuDiJao's point about sipping liquors versus mixing liquors, most Western sipping liquors do in fact make perfectly delicious--if very expensive--cocktails. A partial exception is a peaty single-malt Scotch. Again, smoke and mold are pervasive flavors that come through the still unmolested, and the smokiness of a peaty Scotch can be difficult to accommodate in a cocktail.

More research needed here, clearly.

--DW


aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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Hmm.. my mom makes her own "wong zhao" (lit. Yellow wine in cantonese) by taking the "zhao bang" (lit. wine biscuit in the same language but it's actually a dry yeast starter) and steamed glutinous rice.

Makes for a very nice chicken stew (famous hakka dish "wong zhao gai")

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      a) When you arrive at a restaurant, you are often given a pot of tea which people will sip while contemplating the menu and waiting for other  guests to arrive. Dining out is very much a group activity, in the main. When everyone is there and the food dishes start to arrive the tea is nearly always forgotten about. The tea served like this will often be a fairly cheap, common brand - usually green.
       
      You also may be given a cup of tea in a shop if your purchase is a complicated one. I recently bought a new lap top and the shop assistant handed me tea to sip as she took down the details of my requirements. Also, I recently had my eyes re-tested in order to get new spectacles. Again, a cup of tea was provided. Visit someone in an office or have a formal meeting and tea or water will be provided.
       
      b) You see people walking about with large flasks (not necessarily vacuum flasks) of tea which they sip during the day to rehydrate themselves. Taxi drivers, bus drivers, shop keepers etc all have their tea flask.  Of course, the tea goes cold. I have a vacuum flask, but seldom use it - not a big tea fan. There are shops just dedicated to selling the drinks flasks.
       
      c) There has been a recent fashion for milk tea and bubble tea here, two trends imported from Hong Kong and Taiwan respectively. It is sold from kiosks and mainly attracts younger customers. McDonald's and KFC both do milk and bubble teas.
       

      Bubble and Milk Tea Stall
       

      And Another
       

      And another - there are hundreds of them around!
       

      McDonald's Ice Cream and Drinks Kiosk.


      McDonald's Milk Tea Ad
       
      d) There are very formal tea tastings and tea ceremonies, similar in many ways to western wine tastings. These usually take place in tea houses where you can sample teas and purchase the tea for home use. These places can be expensive and some rare teas attract staggering prices. The places doing this pride themselves on preparing the tea perfectly and have their special rituals. I've been a few times, usually with friends, but it's not really my thing. Below is one of the oldest serious tea houses in the city. As you can see, they don't go out of their way to attract custom. Their name implies they are an educational service as much as anything else. Very expensive!
       

      Tea House

      Supermarkets and corner shops carry very little tea. This is the entire tea shelving in my local supermarket. Mostly locally grown green tea.
       

       

      Local Guangxi Tea
       
      The most expensive in the supermarket was this Pu-er Tea (普洱茶 pǔ ěr chá) from Yunnan province. It works out at ¥0.32per gram as opposed to ¥0.08 for the local stuff. However, in the tea houses, prices can go much, much higher!
       

       
       
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