WildChina Book Club:
Baijiu and the World’s Oldest Drinking Culture with Derek Sandhaus (Event #80)
For our June book club, we’ll be reading Drunk in China: Baijiu and the World’s Oldest Drinking Culture and chatting with the author, Ming River Baijiu founder, Derek Sandhaus.
China is one of the world’s leading producers and consumers of liquor. In turn, alcohol infuses all aspects of China’s culture, from religion and literature to business and warfare. Yet to the outside world, China’s most famous spirit remains a mystery.
That’s about to change: Baijiu, the most popular alcoholic drink in China, is now being served in cocktail bars overseas.
The baijiu invasion is beginning. Drunk in China follows Derek Sandhaus’ journey of discovery into the world’s oldest drinking culture. He travels throughout the country and around the globe to meet with distillers, brewers, snake-oil salesmen, archeologists and ordinary drinkers. He visits production floors, karaoke parlors, hotpot joints and speakeasies.
Along the way he uncovers a tradition that spans more than nine thousand years, and explores how recent economic and political developments have conspired to push Chinese alcohol beyond the nation’s borders for the first time. As Chinese society becomes increasingly international, its drinking culture must also adapt to the times.
But is the West ready to clink glasses with China, or will deeply rooted stereotypes prove too difficult to overcome? Far from engaging in a juvenile celebration of inebriation for its own sake, Sandhaus has aimed to examine the many ways in which alcohol has shaped Chinese society and its rituals, sometimes with disastrous consequences.
Derek will also be treating us to a Baijiu cocktail mixing lesson as part of the event! You can get the recipe in advance below:
- Mei ZhangFounder and CEO of WildChina
Mei Zhang is the founder and CEO of WildChina. Under her leadership, WildChina flourished from a small Hutong operation into an award-winning business. Mei’s own expertise has led her to win a number of personal awards, including Travel and Leisure’s A-List of Top Travel Advisors, Condé Nast Traveler’s Top Travel Specialist, and Wendy Perrin’s #WOW List of Travel Experts. Mei is an Aspen Institute China Fellow and currently serves as a member of Harvard Business School’s Alumni Board.