Hennessy XO (cognac)
750 ml/$199.95. Available at selected LCBO outlets (product #61440)
Sources within the cognac industry say their fastest-growing market is China. Peter Schembri at the Chinatown LCBO confirms cognac's popularity. The older Chinese like brandy, the younger cognac, especially the XOs. A bottle of Hennessy XO (ranked number one by China's big spenders) will set you back $200. That's some deluxe hair of the dog in the the year of the dog.
Kweichow Moutai (Chinese liquor)
375 ml/$77.05. Available at selected LCBO outlets (product #895037)
If you want to put the China back into Chinese New Year, consider a bottle of Kweichow Moutai. It's 53 per cent alcohol, derived from sorghum and wheat, and they've been making it at Kweichow for 2,000 years. Clear and colourless, highly alcoholic with earthy flavours and a long finish, it's going to add a new hue to your drinking palette.
Bek Se Ju (herbal rice wine)
375 ml/$10.25 Available at selected LCBO outlets (product #556852)
Korea, also celebrating the Lunar New Year, is represented at the LCBO by Bek Se Ju, a herbal rice wine in a very tasteful contemporary bottle. The makers cite beneficial herbal ingredients, insisting that drinking this is the best thing you could ever do for yourself. The dominant ginseng and ginger flavours reside in a sakelike base. A challenge to the Western palate, it awaits the inventive mixologist.
Saigon Export (beer)
355 ml/$1.75 Available at selected LCBO outlets (product #454579)
So far our Chinese Booze Year has been pretty sophisticated. Lets bring it down with some plain old cheap beer. If you want to do your Chinese New Year Vietnamese style, crack open a bottle of Saigon Export, a beer so lacking in taste or character, you'll think you've mistakenly grabbed a Miller Lite.