20 March 2016

Tipple talk


Chinese sugar in a bottle

Rum made in China? Who knew?

Not surprisingly, Badr Benjelloun did, but even the affable owner of Cuju Moroccan Bistro and Rummery-Beijing's high priest of rum-"searched and begged" for months to put together 12 varieties made in the Middle Kingdom for a tasting. Most came from the sugar-cane rich Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, though Yunnan province and even sugarless Beijing delivered intriguing samples for the tasting. While some were quickly voted most likely to succeed when mixed with Coke, others had intriguing potential straight up, including three of Benjelloun's own infusions and distillations from Seawolf (Beijing), The Hump Saca (Yunnan) and the vanilla-tinged San Barts (Guangxi). Many are available at Cuju, where Benjelloun will host future Wednesday-night rum tastings from other regions. Up next: Asia beyond China.

28 Xiguan Hutong, Dongsibeidajie, Dongcheng district; 010-6407-9782.

Another rum event

It's black truffle season, which means fans of the fancy fungus can head for the nearest high-end European eatery for a memorable meal. Did that last year? Then head for Sanlitun's latest attention-getting soft opening, Botany, for owner Frankie Zou's inspired signature cocktail, the black-truffle rum martini. It's a blend of homemade Roma bitters, tropical fruit, Captain Morgan's dark rum, toasted spice garnish and black truffles from Yunnan province. It's 95 yuan ($14.60).

Daily 7 pm-1 am, 1209-2 Yongli International Service Apartment, Chaoyang district; 010-6463-6091.

Tastes of Georgia

Wine fans will have a chance to taste vintages from one of the world's oldest wine cultures Friday at the Galleria Museum of Food, when representatives of the Georgian wine industry join a pairing dinner with foods by Georgia's Marina Chopliani. The 300-yuan ticket includes wine, dinner and free hairstyle and makeup from sponsor Catherine de France.

Friday, 6 pm reception, 7 pm dinner; Beijing Galleria, 27 East Third Ring Road, Jianming Center 81, Chaoyang district; reservations: 134-2613-4777.


Beyond ganbei

World Baijiu Day is officially an annual event, with plans underway for the second event with venues in Australia, China, England, France and the United States already confirming participation on Monday, Aug 8, as well as the preceding weekend. Beijing nightlife blogger Jim Boyce launched the event last year to give more people a chance to try baijiu, the potent alcohol that ranks among the most consumed spirits in the world but is little-known outside of China.

The theme is "beyond ganbei", turning the focus away from the traditional toasts to new cocktails and infusions, tasting flights of baijiu styles, and even using the spirit for making foods such as pizza, ice cream and gummy bears.

"Few people enjoy room-temperature shots of any spirit, whether it's vodka or gin or baijiu, especially when alcohol levels reach nearly 60 percent," says Boyce. "We aim to make baijiu more accessible by using it for cocktails, infusions and foods." Worldbaijiuday.com will post updates about upcoming events as well as news on baijiu bars, cocktails and producers.