The U.S. Is Finally Discovering The Most-Sold Spirit In The World

If you just assumed the most-sold spirit in the world comes from the United States, you might be a little biased, or you may have overlooked the fact that China has a population of more than 1.4 billion, the largest in the world. When it comes to the market for any of its products, the country has a pretty solid head start on the home front.

Consider beer, for instance. People often envision countries like the Czech Republic, Germany, and Ireland as the top beer swillers, and, yes, based on per capita consumption, these nations all land comfortably within the top 10, per World Population Review. But pan out and take a wider picture to examine the largest beer-consuming country in the world by volume and China perennially claims the crown (via Kirin Holdings).

It's no secret as to why. China has a lot of people coupled with a traditional drinking culture that celebrates toasting and imbibing. Baijiu, a distilled spirit made in China, is the national drink of choice for most Chinese banquets and social occasions. The alcoholic beverage, which holds the coveted title of most-sold spirit in the world, is gradually making its way into more American cocktail bars.

A baijiu revolution

Baijiu (pronounced by-joe), encompassing any version of grain-based distilled Chinese liquor, has been taking the world by storm, and, despite its global popularity, has only recently made inroads in the U.S. drinking scene. Bartenders and restaurateurs alike are discovering baijiu's complex range of flavors, aromas, and styles and are adapting them accordingly to create new cocktails (via Eater).

Mixologists using baijiu have learned to appreciate the floral and fruity notes of the eclectic varieties and its four major aroma styles of strong, sauce, rice, and light to craft innovative drink menu ideas. One obstacle to finding converts has been baijiu's potent alcohol content of 50 to 80%. In China, it's traditionally served unadorned in a small shot glass-type container. But the wide array of options and flavor profiles has opened American bar managers' eyes to the potential and versatility of baijiu. Some places have even infused baijiu with dates or other ingredients to further enhance their tastes.

Baijiu was initially limited to bars in bigger cities, such as New York and D.C., and at Chinese restaurants, yet as the trend grows, the spirit has attracted attention from other cities and non-Chinese eateries and is becoming more widely available. It may not surpass the mighty margarita anytime soon, but baijiu cocktails are definitely on the rise. Just don't forget when making homemade ones the ways in which you can ruin your cocktails. Nevertheless, this simple ingredient can take your cocktail to the next level.