For thousands of years, Chinese emperors, literati scholars, and great men of letters have waxed poetic about the pleasures of getting drunk. The distilled spirit known as “Baijiu,” 白酒，was developed by the Ming dynasty, but it was during the Communist era that this “working man’s drink” was elevated to the national sensation that we see in China today. Any businessperson will tell you that nary a deal can be sealed without a flurry of baijiu shots and bleary-eyed, drunken toasts. Derek Sandhaus, author of Drunk in China and founder of a Baijiu company, will share the secrets of the world’s most fiery liquor. As China becomes more international, how has its drinking culture changed? Will the West learn to drink baijiu and clink glasses with China?
Derek Sandhaus is one of the world’s leading experts on Chinese spirits, and has published several books on Chinese history and culture including Drunk in China: Baijiu and the World’s Oldest Drinking Culture and Baijiu: The Essential Guide to Chinese Spirits. In 2018 Sandhaus cofounded Ming River Sichuan Baijiu in partnership with China’s oldest continually operational distillery. He serves as Ming River’s baijiu communications director and as the editor at DrinkBaijiu.com. He lives with his wife and dog in Washington, D.C.