Call us crazy, but we’re baijiu believers. Although, we’re not talking about the bottom shelf Erguotou you can find at Family Mart. We’re talking Bye Joe, a China distilled, American refined baijiu. Yes, really.
Bye Joe has a lower ABV (35-40 percent), compared to the baijiu we’re used to (40-60 percent ABV). That major difference takes away the harsh burning aftertaste and unpleasant pungency we’re used to when taking shots of baijiu. And not to mention the terrible hangover the next morning.
Unlike its Chinese counterpart, Bye Joe is refined and goes down surprisingly smooth. Mixologist Logan Brouse of Logan’s Punch introduced us to two new concoctions he’s crafted to bring out the best of Bye Joe.
Logan pays homage to our favorite summertime fruit, yangmei, with 'Xiao Meimei,' which translates to 'little sister' (小妹妹). You know summer has arrived in Shanghai when fruit vendors begin to sell yangmei, so crushing them up into a cocktail made it all the better. It’s refreshingly fruity and mildly sweet, while remaining balanced with the additions of lime and ginger. The slight spice from the ginger also hides any aftertaste from the baijiu.
In charge of making baijiu, well, drinkable, is Alan Chen. Chen tells us that he sees Bye Joe's role in the spirit market as a means to show consumers and mixologists alike that baijiu can be a versatile cocktail base and quaffable spirit in its own right. His ultimate vision is for more bars to offer baijiu cocktails, and create a new reputation for the punchy, distinctly Chinese spirit also known as 'rocket fuel.'
For a cocktail that brings out the flavor of baijiu, Logan's Xiao Lang Gou (小狼狗) uses dragon-fruit infused Bye Joe, passionfruit, fresh orange juice and apricot liqueur. (And for those wondering, the drink’s name roughly translates to a boy who has a sugar mommy relationship, take from that what you will.)
This time around, we could definitely taste the distinct presence of baijiu, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Bye Joe paired nicely with the tropical flavors of passionfruit and fresh orange juice, bringing out subtly sweet tartness with citrus undertones.
Also it looked pretty awesome.
We were pleasantly surprised at how well baijiu works in a cocktail, but also at the fact that we woke up hangover free. Gone are the days of cringing at the mere thought of drinking baijiu. Now that’s something we can ganbei to.
Bottles of Bye Joe are priced at USD29.99 each (you can buy them here), but currently aren’t being shipped to China just yet. However, you can buy them on Weidian right here for RMB320 a bottle or on Taobao here. Or head over to Logan’s Punch to get your dose of the strong stuff.
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