Local Brews and Liquors from China

Northern Chinese swear by their baijiu, a strong, usually sweet, clear liquor, but Shanghainese opt for milder poison. Most beloved is huangjiu, a brown brew from Shaoxing with a mild taste that resembles whiskey, which may explain why the latter is the most popular foreign liquor among locals. Huangjiu's quality is determined by whether it was brewed 2, 5, or 10 years ago. It is usually served warm, sometimes with ginger or dried plum added for kick.

Beer is also widely consumed; although there is a Shanghai beer brand, it is cheap, very bitter, and mostly found in the suburbs. Stores stock brands like Suntory, Asahi, Harbin Snow, and any number of imported beers. Bars serve Tsingtao and imports like Tiger, Heineken, and Budweiser, which are more expensive. You’ll find Sinkiang Black at Xinjiang restaurants. Craft beer can be had at Shanghai’s small but strong homegrown breweries, and, increasingly, at fancier spots around town.

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