In the past ten days I’ve consumed more than 50 shots of baijiu, most of which were with the top brass at Maotai. And boy do I have some good stories to go along with them. But for the time being they’ll have to wait, as I have a more pressing announcement.
As a home base, Sichuan has been good to me. Spicy food, mild temperatures and a constant stream of sweet, stomach-churning sorghum hooch. It’s the heart of China’s baijiu belt, but it’s just a tiny piece of the drunken Chinese puzzle. And baijiu is just a one of dozens of unique alcoholic drinks on offer in the Middle Kingdom.
So it’s time to hit the road. For the next month, I will be crisscrossing the nation in search of the kind of truth that can only be found at the bottom of a bottle. I’m visiting most of China’s alcohol-producing hotspots and, in some instances, meeting with some Chinese alcohol manufacturers, big and small alike.
I will drink baijius, huangjius, snake wines, grape wines, beers and ethyl alcohol infused with all manners of horrors. I hope to learn more drinking games, drinking songs and the Chinese answer to the greasy Western breakfast to fight off my hangovers.
I will try to post semi-regular updates of my progress. For the good of science, I’ve undergone a full range of liver functionality tests and will return to the doctor upon my return to learn the horrible truth. For moral support, I’ve enlisted the help of some travel companions to join in at various legs of the journey.
As a parting shot, I would like to issue a challenge in the form of an invitation. If you live along the China coast, or in one of its saucier inland cities, I will likely be coming soon to a city near you. If you have the gumption, I invite each and all of you to join me for a drink along the way. If you want to meet up, shoot me a quick note in the contact section with your location and contact info. Drinking alone, far away from home, is never as enjoyable as a drink in good company. As the saying goes, “When friends meet, a thousand glasses isn’t enough.”