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Snakes, Dicks, Bees, Ants, Whatever: A Taste Test of Baijiu Infusions

So I went and drank all the penis baijius. This one's going to get a little TV-MA, just warning you.
Last updated: 2016-05-13
Ever seen a deer penis? They have NOTHING to be ashamed about.

This is a jar of deer penises.

(Incidentally, I very much don't recommend googling deer penises.)

Deer penises in a jar totally look like some Van Helsing stake-through-the-heart-of-a-vampire realness, don’t they? Oh man.

The deer's penis is our starting point today for an exploration of the various baijiu infusions available around Shanghai. We're doing a baijiu taste test for the damned, trying out whatever we can get our hands on. Tonight, we rock the yaojiu (medicine wine).

What you got Shanghai? Snakes? Ants? Insects? Bring it. I'm impotent as hell and I'm feelin' wicked thirsty.


Snakes and Deer Penis Wine

The Drink

Must have been a pretty easy job to be a doctor back in the day.

I can imagine the medical paper published, thousands and thousands of years ago, by some wise and ancient sage, some tireless and unflinching luminary of the medical sciences, arguing the curative and therapeutic values of ingesting deer penises as a remedy to male testosterone and virility issues, athletic injury, and even pregnancy complications and fetal health issues.

“So like deer have these pretty huge, huge, huge penises right? Like, I bet if you eat these huge deer penises, it would totally cure any penis thing you might have.”

Where else would one keep one's penis power other than in one's penis, I ask you.

Boom. Medicine.

Prescription: Cock.

Along the way, coming from thousands of years ago, some Nobel Peace Prize-deserving unsung innovator had this massive breakthrough on the delivery system technology of the deer penis medicine.

“Hey, why aren’t we putting these dicks in some booze?”

And here we are today. At the Dong Bei restaurant off the end of Huahai Lu. With a glass of snake and deer penis wine in our hands. With a Chinese gangster-looking guy in our face snapping sunflower seeds and giving us the stink eye. About to TURN THIS MOTHER OUT.

The Experience

So it's baijiu. Plus snakes. Plus deer penises. Plus Goji berries for taste. But it all comes back to the baijiu.

Baijiu, ugggghh... how to describe it.

Baijiu, if you've never had it before, is basically the process of un-tagging yourself from embarrassing Facebook photos distilled as a beverage.

Down the hatch.

Yeah, But Did It Make Your Eyes Bleed?

Yep, there it is. God, baijiu. It's got a taste as unwelcome as that guy in the green Chang Beer muscle t-shirt constantly asking you to play foosball in a bar.

Do I look like I want to play foosball, guy?

We're just getting started here, folks, I'm already moving on. Nuts to this snake and penis wine.


Starfish-Infused Baijiu

The Drink

My main man Jackie has a nifty little cocktail bar called Magpie on Yongkang Lu. In said cocktail bar, he serves his own infusion which is starfishes -- actual starfishes from the actual ocean -- in baijiu. Not so uncommon as you might think.

Sound like... well, that sounds like it's going to taste like shit, quite frankly, but hey I'll give it a try! Getting into the medical side of things, all these baijiu infusions are loosely orientated towards men's health issues and the all-important concept of Yang qi. When we talked to the various vendors of the various penis elixirs discussed herein, the same refrain rang throughout: "these are good for men."

Boner benefits for men, then, is the order of the evening, with a host of other ailments addressed in a tertiary fashion: digestion, circulation, sore muscles and bones, throat problems, whatever else.

Also, if you find yourself suffering from having good relationships with the people in your life and are a functioning and productive member of society, drinking animal dongs in some baijiu will clear that up for you right quick. No problems, mate!

The Experience

Ooof, this big jar of mean looking grey liquid is just squatting at the end of the bar, radiating pure evil. Just smelling the stuff, my God. It smells haunted. It smells like the ghost of a serial killer. It's got this rank, rank, rank, bottom-of-the-ocean kind of vibe that you just don't want any part of. They don't charge you anything to try it because, dude, you really just want to get an Old Fashioned or something. I'm telling you this as a friend.

Yeah, But Did It Make Your Eyes Bleed?

Let me just state that Magpie is a very cool place and you should go there for a drink if you want.


I've put a lot of abhorrent stuff in my mouth for this website, and the starfish-infused baijiu is way, way, way at the top of the list for the most vile tasting shit I've ever had. Top three easily. It's got this rotten, briny, seawater kind of taste mixed with a PT Barnum sideshow fetus-in-a-jar aesthetic presentation. I mean you simply cannot get any worse than this. It tasted like a pirate's morgue. It's like cleaning out an abandoned fish aquarium with your cherished childhood memories. It's essence of the rotting ocean.

And this carcass of the ocean just stayed with me for days and days and days afterwards, like I was living frigging Life of Pi in real frigging life or something.

But no hard feelings, Jackie! The man actually accompanied us out to our next destination: a Yunnanese baijiu infusion specialty shop called Yunnan Cun, way out in Qibao.


Nuclear Mushrooms

The Drink

'Shrooms, man. 'Shrooms.


That reminds me, let's get some 'shrooms!

We should totally get some 'shrooms. Maybe not in a bunch of baijiu though.

Yunnan Cun has several varieties of mushroom-infused baijiu for all your mushroom-infused baijiu needs. I bet you have several. The one I tried out is made from the song rong mushroom, AKA the matsutake, a mycorrhizal mushroom that figures heavily in lots of Chinese and Japanese cuisine. This is a highly prized fungus. It's appreciated for its strong aroma and rich, almond-like taste. It's an autumnal delicacy, I've been told, by solemn and reverent food-type people who know about these sorts of things. Now let get it into some baijiu and let 'er RIP.

Jackie translates from the baijiu lady owner of Yunnan Cun that this particular strain of fungus is known at the "King of Mushrooms" because it, evidently, was the only piece of plant life to survive the atomic blast in Hiroshima in 1945. I don't know if that's true or not, but damn that's a pretty fantastic thing to have on your resume -- shrugging off a nuclear assault. As to the medical maladies this particular baijiu infusion is good for?

Baijiu Lady: Radiation.

Me: Uhhh... radiation?

Baijiu Lady: Radiation.

The Experience

It's coming in a shimmering and deep caramel color liquid with a sharp, medicinal, and pronounced aroma. Should I stop describing what these things smell like? They're all "sharp, medicinal, and pronounced" -- it's baijiu. It smells like it's straight-up trying to kick my nose in the dick.

Oooo this one warms on the way down. She burns, she burns.

***Cough... cough***

Smooth. Real smooth. Rich. Deep. Earthy. And with a pleasant and sweet aftertaste.

Yeah, But Did It Make Your Eyes Bleed?

Nah, this one was alright! It was aaaaaa-iight! Reminded me of like drinking a nice brandy or something. It's still knock-you-over strong as hell but I could literally maybe even finish a full shot glass of this. Of the ones we tried from Yunnan Cun, this was also Jackie's favorite as well. Leaves you with a nice jolly sort of buzz like drunk Santa.

There goes my massive "radiation" problem.


No! Not The BEES!

The Drink

Yes, the bees. Getting into that classic Yunnan flavor now. Yunnan representing once again with that whole bee thing. Some poor bee stung someone from Yunnan once like 4000 years ago and they've been living it down ever since. That's like an Aesop's Fable -- The Story of the Hungry Yunnanese and the Bee. As the Baijiu Lady at Yunnan Cun says, you can fry up these little guys as a side dish to compliment a BBQ feast or, evidently, stick them right in some baijiu to help with "bone aches" and "fatigue".

At this point, I'm realizing that the only thing these bastards are curing is this troubling case of sobriety that's been dogging me all these years. I got damn sobriety like a monkey on my back, man.

A shot of this stuff is 38rmb, money first. Doesn't it always just fill you right up with confidence when they ask you for the money first before they give you the thing that they're going to give you?

The Experience

Comes as a clear liquid served in a flimsy plastic cup, like the kind migrant laborer construction guys are always drinking out of. Putting it up to the sun, I could see clear through to The Other Side and the face of God Himself giving me the "hang loose" sign out of the corner of my eye. Smells like nail polish. Smells like a super intense kind of paint thinner they use on pain thinner to make paint thinner thinner.

Ka-BOOM. Oh man. Hey, this stuff ain't that bad!

Yeah, But Did It Make Your Eyes Bleed?

Again, like the mushroom one, this was surprisingly decent for a alcoholic beverage that has the intended, expressed purpose of suplexing you into a pile of puke, garbage, and lost friendships. I turn to my notes: "bright", "warming", "surprising", "oily", "possibly not poisonous".

Hey, I've had worse ice creams.

With that, we bid adieu to our much appreciated guide, Jackie from Magpie and head to The Tailor Bar in Jing'an where they serve...


Starfish, Goji Berries, Lizards, DOG PENIS, Licorice, FIRE ANTS, Seahorse, Starfish, Truffles, and "Some Kind of Animal I Don't Know What It Is", Are You Serious

Looks pretty HR Giger-y, right?

The Drink

Here we are, folks, the grand finale. Eddie Yang's wonderful speak easy-ish cocktail bar The Tailor Bar, above a Chinese medicine market, in Jing'an serves an infusion to end all infusions. It doesn't cost anything to you. It takes everything from you. It contains all the things you see above and more. This is two-middle-fingers-to-the-sky alcohol infusion craft right here. This is lighting a cigar with a match and then tossing it casually over your shoulder, walking away, cool as hell, while a Lamborghini Countach explodes into a fireball behind you.

They put a dog dick in this. A dog's dick.

And then some fire ants. And then :P truffles.

It's like their parents went away for the weekend and left the liquor cabinet unlocked and so then these kids got into it and mixed all the booze together into one drink. But their liquor cabinet is actually all the gross things of nature.

Spielberg didn't even want this on the set for Temple of Doom for the monkey brains eating scene because he thought it would be too unrealistic and culturally insensitive.

This is like doing jello body shots off a zombie.

This is how Charles Manson hydrates on his elliptical machine.

I've got more.

This isn't mixology; this is a goddamn Satanic ritual.

This is like watching the movie Event Horizon on the actual event horizon.

What does it cure? LIFE ITSELF.

K, done.

Wait, one more, this is item number one on Hitler's rider when he's backstage after a metal show on the Ninth Plane of Hell.

Too far, probably. Okay so THE DRINK -- we're just going to refer to it as "THE DRINK" -- is, according to our wonderful and skillful bartender at The Tailor Bar, "uhhh... good for men". It's "good for men", apparently. I guess it's good for whatever man problems you might have. I have several man problems. I got problems, man. I'm not ashamed to say. THE DRINK is brimming with, of course, yang qi, ideal for people who are yang qi deficient. If you drink too much yang qi, however, blood starts gushing out of your nose, and that's a true fact. I'm not even making that up; that's what they said.

This will cause nose bleeds if you drink too much of it. Because it snaps something important in your brain, and then the blood gushes down out your nose, carrying that important thing with it.

So, yeah. One, please.

One more thing if you're keeping score. They actually make this from a vodka base instead of baijiu, but that's okay. I'm good, I'm easy. Just as long as you put a fucking dog dick in it, WE'RE ALL GOOD TO GO.

The Experience

I make my way to the magnum bottle at the end of the bar to get my glass and the entire room stops their conversations and looks up.

"Oh shit," they're thinking, "Check this out, this guy's about to set his whole life on fire."

I could see it in their eyes. They're like "it's not worth it, buddy, it's just not worth it" but I wasn't going to be deterred. I'm not altering my course. I'm a man on a mission.

I'd like a glass of some dog's penis vodka, please, uncircumcised, as is my preference.

Let's do this.

Yeah, But Did It Make Your Eyes Bleed?

It tasted like...


It tasted like...

.... *

It tasted like a gingerbread house.

It tasted like a warm, fresh out-of-the-oven gingerbread house baked in some glowing and peaceful chalet tucked under a snowy mountaintop in some beautiful and serene part of Switzerland.

It tasted like a gingerbread house.


And then I didn't sleep for nine days.

And that, possums, is a story for another time!


Chin chin! Have a good one!

Much thanks Rena for researching e'rythang, driving me around, and taking pictures.