Drunk in China


Drunk in China

Baijiu and the World's Oldest Drinking Culture

Derek Sandhaus

320 pages
1 timeline, 1 appendix, 1 map


November 2019


$34.95 Add to Cart

March 2022


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2019


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2019


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

2020 Gourmand Award in Spirits
Gold Medal winner in the Independent Book Publishers Awards

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.

Author Bio

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 communications director and as the editor at drinkbaijiu.com. He lives with his wife and dog in Washington, DC.


"An engaging introduction to baijiu, the world's biggest selling spirit, Sandhaus gives the reader as much historical and societal context as he does entertainment."—Millie Milliken, Imbibe

“It’s a fun journey.”—Wall Street Journal

"Derek Sandhaus offers a rollicking, hard-drinking exploration of baijiu, China's national tipple."—Janet Brown, Shelf Awareness

"This is bound to become the go-to guide on how China's national drink is produced, con­sumed and marketed, charting its history, culture and effects."—Mike Cormack, South China Morning Post

"If his aim is to encourage greater consumption of the fiery booze, his enthusiastic writing and raucous tales are likely to do the trick."—Jeremiah Jenne, World of Chinese

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

Table of Contents



Notes on Language

Time Line of Alcohol in China

Introduction: The First Sip

Part 1. Climbing the Sky

1. The Wild West

2. Three Hundred Shots

3. The Way

Part 2. Jiu’s Story

4. Drink of the Dead

5. Drink of the Immortals

6. Firewater

7. The People’s Choice

Part 3. The Journey of a Thousand Drinks

8. Party Favors

9. Song of the South

10. Yangtze Delta Blues

11. Dust Bowl Ballad

12. Yellow River Ramble

Part 4. Warning Labels

13. Burning Questions

14. Quality Control

15. The Cost of Doing Business

16. Red Tape

Part 5. Matters of Taste

17. Reinventing the Flavor Wheel

18. Exclusion

19. A Seat at the Bar

Afterword: Why We Drink

Appendix: About the Recipes





2020 Gourmand Award in Spirits
Gold Medal winner in the Independent Book Publishers Awards

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