过年How?: Spirits Importer Dishes on Drunk Relatives, Respecting His Elders, and Dumplings Galore

2 weeks ago
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We quiz some long-term Beijingers on how they intend to spend this year’s Chinese New Year and hopefully uncover some horror stories along the way. 过年 Howy’all?

Liu Yue, or Rio as he’s more commonly known in Beijing’s bar scene (“It’s my stage name!”), is a Beijing native and liquor importer with Sarment x Proof. That job, and the consulting assignments that come along with it, have left him well acquainted with numerous cocktail bars and lounges around town. Below we talk to Rio about why even those deep ties with the capital’s top bartenders and mixologists aren’t adequate preparation for his baijiu and erguotou-swilling relatives during Chinese New Year.

Tell us about a particular CNY nightmare that you’ve encountered.
Some elders drank too much and quarreled over trivial matters.

Which dishes do you particularly look forward to gorging on every year?
*Insert row of dumpling emojis*

What are three tips for avoiding the excesses of eating and drinking that CNY is defined by?
To be honest, visit fewer relatives. Before, I was more traditional and would spend four days visiting the homes of different extended family members. And each time, I’d eat and drink a lot. Now I only spend one day on this.

How do you deflect awkward family questions?
Don’t argue, because they are elders. In fact, many old people are very lonely, and Chinese New Year is their only chance to talk. So I will listen and smile, and toast with them. If they have very different opinions from mine, sometimes I will go to the other room

What are you going to spend your hongbao haul on?
Having a drink with a friend.

Check out all our Chinese New Year coverage here.

Photos: Rio Liu

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