I was watching a documentary about General Tso’s chicken, and it mentioned that Chinese food in America is always tied to politics.
At first, the Chinese rushed to San Francisco over gold – that’s how Chop Suey was invented.
Chinese food was seen as ‘dirty’ migrant food so it was limited to random stir-fries without any specific meanings.
Then Nixon visited China for the first time in 1972, and the whole world saw Zhou En Lai entertained the president with a shot of Moutai, amongst a giant elaborated banquet.
Americans saw how elegant Chinese food can be, and started demanding the same.
I thought that was interesting.
Life is weird sometimes – a few days later Moutai Australia approached me to photograph an event at The Den at Crown.
It is to celebrate the Lunar New Year while featuring Moutai-flavoured cocktails.
If you have not heard of Moutai, just know this: it is the national pride of China.
And it costs $300 for a 500ml bottle.
It is 53% alcohol and the general tasting note is ‘liquid razor with a hint of soy sauce’.
It’s was interesting for me to see an Australian take of a Chinese spirit, especially during the cocktail masterclasses.
With ingredients like burnt orange, pomegranate, with a Manhattan twist, and a name like ‘Rooster’s Neck’, or ‘Sneaky Beak’.
I guess because of its history, Moutai is seen primarily as a diplomatic tool.
The downside is that people find it stuffy, somewhat linked to the older (try Qing Dynasty old) generation.
By introducing the concept of cocktails, it is trying to shed that skin.
What I took from the covering the event is that you don’t necessarily have to adapt to run a business.
But all successful ones definitely do so.