Chinese Firewater to Hit U.S. Shelves

Try it if you dare: China's potent and most popular liquor will soon be offered in the U.S.

Only the bravest American drinkers should test the limits of Chinese baijiu, to be offered soon on U.S. shelves.

If you think you can handle the strongest of liquors, think again. Chinese baijiu, or Chinese firewater as it’s more commonly known, will soon reach American grocery store shelves in an attempt to boost the spirit’s sales.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., Chinese firewater is a flammable and pungent white liquor at 110-proof. This extremely strong competitor surpasses beverages like 20-proof Belgian style beers and 80-proof tequila, though not as strong as Everclear, topping at 190-proof.

Michael Pareles, manager at the U.S. Meat Export Federation in Beijing, described the liquor to taste like “paint-thinner” at first, although he eventually grew to appreciate the taste. To accommodate untrained American taste buds, some distillers have found a way to refilter the liquor, according to the New York Daily News.


Even though Chinese firewater is the world’s most heavily consumed liquor (selling more than 11 million liters in 2012), the popularity of the drink is diminishing thanks to new foreign liquor imports to China. This means Chinese firewater makers are betting the future of the spirit in the hands of the overseas buyers.