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Mixology picks up steam

By Xu Lin | China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-02 10:08
[Photo provided to China Daily]

Winners of the recent Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition China share their passion for mixology and their insights into the country's booming bartending scene. Xu Lin reports.

When the Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition China was launched in 2013, only around 100 bartenders from across the country signed up for the event.

When the sixth edition of the cocktail final competition was held in Shanghai this March, the registrants numbered more than 600.

"It's a good phenomenon," says Irving Holmes Wong, managing director Greater China of Bacardi. "Many bartenders today believe this career is not just about drinks, but about creation."

In 2014, Xie Jun from Shanghai finished among the top three in the competition's global final. These days, he's one of the judges for the final in the China leg of the global competition.

Xie says that while the contestants each year have become younger, their creations are becoming increasingly sophisticated, reflecting how quickly the industry is maturing.

Many of these Chinese bartenders like to add Chinese elements such as traditional Chinese herbs and Chinese teas to showcase local culture. During this year's final, Han Chao mixed baijiu (Chinese liquors) with Bacardi rums and other ingredients, such as passion fruit and rose syrup.

"Like whiskies, rums are aged in oak barrels which will create unique flavors such as vanilla and honey. Baijiu is often pungent and doesn't have such flavors," explains the 28-year-old who is the bar manager of the PuXuan Hotel and Spa in Beijing, which will soon open to the public.

"I can not only make classical cocktails, but also modify them using Chinese elements. Such localization makes Chinese bartenders unique."

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