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Drunk in China

Baijiu and the World's Oldest Drinking Culture

Derek Sandhaus

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: Potomac Books
Published: 11/2019
Pages: 320
Subject: Biography and Autobiography
eBook ISBN: 9781640122598


2020 Gourmand Award in Spirits China is one of the world's leading producers and consumers of liquor, with alcohol infusing all aspects of its culture, from religion and literature to business and warfare. Yet to the outside world, China's most famous spirit, baijiu, remains a mystery. This is about to change, as baijiu is now being served in cocktail bars beyond its borders.Drunk in China follows Derek Sandhaus's 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, archaeologists, and ordinary drinkers. He examines the many ways in which alcohol has shaped Chinese society and its rituals. He visits production floors, karaoke parlors, hotpot joints, and speakeasies. Along the way he uncovers a tradition spanning 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. Can the West also adapt and clink glasses with China? Read Drunk in China and find out.  


Derek Sandhaus has published four books on Chinese history and culture, most recently Baijiu: The Essential Guide to Chinese Spirits. In 2018 Sandhaus co-founded Ming River Sichuan Baijiu in partnership with China's oldest continually operational distillery. He serves as Ming River's baijiu education director and as the editor at He lives with his wife and dog in Jerusalem, where he is developing a fondness for arak.  


"Drunk in China takes readers on a spirited, entertaining journey through the lens of China's favorite and often misunderstood drink, baijiu. Derek Sandhaus illuminates Chinese history and contemporary life in his devoted quest to embrace and relish a traditional Chinese liquor."—Jen Lin-Liu, author of Serve the People and On the Noodle Road and founder of Beijing's Black Sesame Kitchen cooking school    

"I have learned so much from Derek Sandhaus over the years, and Drunk in China is no exception. It's not just about baijiu—although it offers a master class on the subject. It's about China and its history, culture, and relationship with the West, told through the perspective of a witty, generous storyteller."—Clay Risen, deputy opinion editor at the New York Times and author of Single Malt: A Guide to the Whiskies of Scotland  

"Who knew that the history of China was so wrapped up in its drinking culture? This ramble through time and geography is an intoxicating romp through a boozy China. Sandhaus's ability to turn a phrase keeps us laughing all the way."—Scott D. Seligman, author of The First Chinese American