In a futile effort to class this post up a bit, I’m going to start with a lovely and poetic Chinese saying:
When drinking with a friend, a thousand glasses are too few; when the conversation turns sour, a single word is too much.
Now – to more appropriately set the tone – here’s another Chinese saying in meme form:
I love China.
Just like in the *crazy foods* post, I want to disclaimer this by saying that China is home to countless distilleries that produce a wide variety of incredible spirits – I’ll do a post about the rich and extensive drinking culture of the Middle Kingdom eventually.
But once again, this is not that.
Kids, this is 二锅头 (pronounced ar-gwuh-toe). The name means double distilled – literally, “second pot head.” You don’t know it, but it knows you. And it’s coming for you and your loved ones.
Here’s my best attempt at a textbook description of the stuff:
二锅头 is a type of Chinese baijiu made from sorghum. It’s colorless, takes around six months to produce, and is typically very high proof. The “Red Star” brand (56% alcohol) in particular has gained a certain level of noteriety among foreigners for its low price, widespread availability, strength, and distinctive flavor.
Of course, the dry explanation doesn’t quite do it justice. Allow me to paint you a word picture:
(warning: not pleasant. duh)
Erguotou smells like the Human Centipede’s personal fragrance and tastes like everclear mixed with backwash from a coffee enema. From the moment you crack open the bottle, every one of your senses starts screaming at you to re-evaluate your life choices.
To say that erguotou tastes like the taint sweat of a detoxing alcoholic is an insult to alcoholism; to say that it’s the oral equivalent of watching the “Friday” music video is an insult to the artistry of Rebecca Black. This a liquor that – if he somehow managed to get his tiny hands on a bottle – Donald Trump would be unwilling to put his name on. This is a liquor that would have been the low point of the evening if Walder Frey had served it at the Red Wedding.
Given the choice between shots of this stuff with Scarlett Johansson and a nice glass of whiskey with Ted Cruz, I’d need some time to think about it.
Given the choice between eyeball shots of vodka and normal shots of erguotou, I would – at the very least – check out what kind of progress science has made in the field of ocular implants recently.
William Faulker once said that he would prefer the “experience of pain” over nothingness. One glass of this paint thinner would have changed his mind.
If we found out tomorrow that this shit is actually drawn from the fountain of youth, philosophers the world over would be (even more) out of work because we’d all learn to accept mortality after one night.
It isn’t very good. Is that coming across?
There’s not much else to say about it, honestly. I’ll close with a pro tip for potential abroad students: If you do come here and drink a bunch of erguotou as part of your cultural experience – as you should and most certainly will – don’t chase it with Oreos. It may seem like a great solution at the time, but puking your guts out is unpleasant enough without channeling The Exorcist.
dunno what he’s actually drinking, but seems about right