Ming River

The Original Sichuan Baijiu

About Ming River

The journey to Ming River begins in the heart of Sichuan, China in the lush port city where China’s longest continuously operating distillery makes its legendary liquor. Over the past 700 years, traditional baijiu techniques here have passed from master to apprentice for over 20 generations.

 A balanced and complex spirit, Ming River is the original Sichuan baiju. Each batch starts with locally harvested red sorghum grain and the purest waters from protected wells. It is fermented in earthen pits with naturally harvested yeast cultures native to Luzhou that impart the distinctive terroir of Sichuan style baijiu. After two months, the mash is unearthed and distilled in small batches using a traditional Chinese pot still. The spirits age for up to two years before the master blender balances them into Ming River’s distinctive flavor.

 The result is an uncompromisingly bold spirit with notes of pineapple and anise with a lingering mellow finish. Perfect neat alongside spicy cuisine or in a cocktail, this baijiu evokes Sichuan with each sip.

Our Story

Many people told us baijiu could never succeed internationally. We ignored them. We met in China and fell in love with baijiu. It offered us a world of unexplored flavors and experiences. It changed how we thought about drinks. We had to spread the word.

Baijiu is a category encompassing all traditional Chinese grain spirits. In terms of flavor and aroma, there’s nothing else like it. The world beyond China knows almost nothing about it, and we have devoted ourselves to correcting that. Derek penned the first English-language book about baijiu. Bill, Matthias and Simon opened the world’s first bar dedicated to baijiu. Now we’re taking our show on the road.

With Ming River we’re introducing the world to an authentic expression of Sichuan baijiu that reflects twenty-four generations of skill and a true taste of the region. We have partnered with China’s oldest continuously operating distillery, Luzhou Laojiao, to bring you the original Sichuan baijiu. Together we’ve taken a tradition that began in the Ming Dynasty and created a shared future.

The Distillery

About The Luzhou Laojiao Distillery

Luzhou Laojiao is located in the lush river town of Luzhou, in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. Luzhou’s winemaking tradition spans nearly two thousand years, and boasts such luminaries as Guo Huaiyu, the creator of “big qu” baijiu in the fourteenth century, and Shi Jingzhang, inventor of pit fermentation baijiu in the fifteenth century. Drawing upon their work, the trailblazing distillery perfected Sichuan baijiu.
The distillery is best known for the “thousand-year pit, ten thousand-year mash” production method. This involves fermenting a sorghum mash in large earthen pits, the walls of which absorb yeasts from the fermentation cycle over time. At the start of each cycle, a quarter of the old mash is discarded and replaced with fresh grains and yeast to begin fermentation anew. A mash is always returned to the same pit, creating an unending cycle that ensures continuity of flavor.

Conventional wisdom suggests that the longer a fermentation pit is used, the greater the complexity of the resulting baijiu. A fully mature “old pit” has been in continuous use for at least thirty years. Luzhou Laojiao currently operates 1,600 old pits, more than a thousand of which are at least a century old. It also owns the world’s most ancient baijiu pits that have been in continuous operation since 1573.

About Baijiu

What is baijiu?

Baijiu—pronounced bye-j’yo, meaning “white spirits” in Mandarin—is a category that encompasses all traditional Chinese grain spirits. Baijiu is most commonly distilled from sorghum, but is also often made from rice, wheat, corn and millet. Production techniques differ significantly by region and style, and different styles of baijiu can be as distinct as whiskey is to tequila.

All baijiu is fermented with naturally harvested cultures of airborne yeast and microorganisms, called qu (pronounced like the English word “chew”). Most baijiu is distilled in a solid state using traditional Chinese pot stills.

Baijiu is the world’s most popular liquor by volume, with annual outputs of 12.9 billion liters (3.4B gal), according to China’s Statistics Bureau. Put another way, there is more baijiu produced each year than the combined total of vodka and whisky—numbers two and three, respectively. Baijiu and Western spirits, broadly defined, are fundamentally different alcohols. In terms of production, ingredients, flavor and aroma they bear little in common. Thus baijiu’s uniqueness makes it an exciting new category in the global spirits market.

What are the different styles of baijiu?

In all there are about a dozen distinctive regional styles of baijiu, but four styles make up the bulk of the market: strong aroma, light aroma, sauce aroma, and rice aroma.

Learn more about baijiu at DrinkBaijiu.com

How To Enjoy

In China they say, “One cannot set the table without alcohol,” which means it’s not a meal without baijiu. Traditionally baijiu is served neat at room temperature to accompany food at mealtimes. It is poured into tiny, thimble-sized shot glasses that are downed in a series of communal toasts. One always drinks with others, so baijiu is associated with raucous, festive drinking sessions.

China has no indigenous cocktail culture, but the Chinese are fond of infusing baijiu with fruits, spices, herbs and traditional Chinese medicine. These tonics are associated with health and wellness,but are usually not part of the toasting ritual. In recent years, bars in China and elsewhere have begun to experiment with baijiu in cocktails. As an ingredient, its strength and pungency make it challenging but rewarding to work with. It has tremendous untapped potential for adventuresome bartenders.

Ming River Tasting Notes

Aroma: Begins with green apple peel and gives way to a mélange of tropical fruit—papaya, guava and melon—rounded out by a hint of ripe cheese.
Flavor:Spicy pink peppercorn, with pineapple, anise and a bright and briny middle note. A long, mellow and earthy finish.

Drinks and Mixing with Ming River Baijiu:

Baijiu is traditionally enjoyed neat at room temperature. Ming River’s fruity sweetness is the perfect counterpoint to the numbing spice of Sichuanese cuisine. As a clear but decidedly non-neutral spirit, in mixed drinks Ming River’s bold aroma and flavor can be called upon to perform like a rhum agricole, Jamaican pot still rum or a Batavia arrack, effortlessly finding a home in tiki drinks while also opening a new world for sours and aperitifs. Additionally, many classic recipes can be enhanced by incorporating Ming River baijiu in a split base or even just as a rinse.



Red Drink #1

  • By Don Lee
    Existing Conditions
    New York
  • 1 oz (30 ml) Ming River
    1 oz (30 ml) Aperol
    1 oz (30 ml) Noilly Pratt Dry

  • Stir, strain and serve in a lowball glass. Garnish with a half wheel of orange

Yellow Drink #1

  • By Don Lee
    Existing Conditions
    New York
  • 2 oz (60 ml) Ming River
    ¾ oz (22 ml) Lemon
    ½ oz (15 ml) honey syrup (1:1)
    ¼ oz (7ml) St. Germain

  • Shake, strain and serve in coupe (no garnish)

Yellow Drink #2

  • By Don Lee
    Existing Conditions
    New York
  • 2 oz (60 ml) Ming River
    ¾ oz (22 ml) Lime
    ½ oz (15 ml) Agave syrup (1:1)
    ¼ oz (7ml) Ancho Reyes Rojo 

  • Shake, strain and serve in coupe (no garnish)

Tiki #1

  • By Don Lee
    Existing Conditions
    New York
  • 1 ½ oz (45 ml) Ming River
    ½ oz (15 ml) Smith and Cross Jamaican rum
    ¾ oz (22 ml) Lime
    ¾ oz (22 ml) Coco Lopez
    ¾ oz (22 ml) Passionfruit puree
  • Shake, strain and serve over crushed ice in a traditional Tiki mug


Paper Crane

  • By David Putney
    Capital Spirits, Beijing
  • 1 oz (30 ml) Ming River
    1 oz (30 ml) Aperol
    1 oz (30 ml) Amaro Montenegro
    1 oz (30 ml) lemon juice

  • Shake, double strain over ice.

Bittersweet Boomerang

  • By Paul Matthew
    The Hide, London
  • 1 ¼ oz (35 ml) Ming River
    ½ oz (15 ml) Yellow Chartreuse
    ½ oz (15 ml) Creme de Cacao
    ⅓ oz (10 ml) Cynar

  • Stirred, serve on the rocks with a lemon twist

Sichuan Sour

  • By Shannon Mustipher
    Glady’s, Brooklyn
  • 1 ½ oz (45 ml) Ming River
    ½ oz (15 ml) Rum Fire overproof Jamaican Rum
    ½ oz (15 ml) Giffard passionfruit liqueur
    ¾ oz (22 ml) Lime
    ¾ oz (22 ml) Pineapple juice

  • Combine all in a shaker with ice. Shake and fine strain into a coupe serve up – garnish with a lime wheel or shaved lime zest, then serve.

Tiger's Milk

  • By Shannon Mustipher
    Glady’s, Brooklyn
  • 2 oz (60 ml) Ming River (coconut fat washed or sesame fat washed)
    ½ oz (15 ml) Rum Fire overproof Jamaican Rum
    1 oz (30 ml) Coconut cream
    1 oz (30 ml) Banana milk
    1 ½ oz (45 ml) Pineapple juice

  • Combine all in a shaker with ice and shake to chill. Strain into a chilled Collins glass over ice. Garnish with a pineapple leaf and or plantain chip, then serve.


Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) April 26, 2018

Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) April 26, 2018

Baijiu: The World of Chinese Spirits Baijiu is the world’s best-selling liquor category, with a diversity of flavors as rich as the country that created it. Join author Derek Sandhaus (Baijiu: The Essential Guide to Chinese Spirits) for a discussion on Chinese alcohol and drinking culture, with a guided drink tasting, small bites from Kings County […]

Read more


For press inquiries:

Sara Gorelick
Colangelo & Partners PR
+1 (646) 624-2885

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Ming River press media kit

Download our press kit here Ming River Baijiu Media Kit MAY 14.2018

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Contact Info


343 E 18th Street New York, NY 10003