Alcohol in Chinese – How to Order Your Favourite Alcoholic Beverages in Mandarin
No matter where you are in China, whether you like a cheeky glass of beer with your dinner or you like to hit up fancy cocktail bars in the bigger cities, you’re going to need to know how to order what you want in Chinese. Luckily we’ve made a guide to ordering all kinds of alcohol in Chinese. Read on to find out more.
Traditional Chinese Alcohol
Chinese alcohol comes in many forms. Perhaps the most well known typically Chinese alcohol is 白酒 (bái jiǔ). It literally translates into English as “White Alcohol / Spirit” or “Wine Wine”. Don’t be fooled though, this is no regular wine.
‘Baijiu’ is a strong spirit made from grain that comes in many varieties. It is usually sorghum based, but it can also be made from wheat, rice, barley and other grains.
Its alcohol content varies from 28% up to around 65%. You can buy a cheap bottle of Er Guo Tou (二锅头 – Èr guō tóu) for just a few kuai, but the top end stuff can go for thousands or even tens of thousands. One famous prestigious brand is Maotai (茅台 – máo tái).
Although baijiu isn’t very well known outside of China, due to China’s huge baijiu-drinking population, it is still the most-drunk alcoholic drink in the world.
Baijiu’s less alcoholic cousin, Huangjiu (黃酒 – huáng jiǔ) is another popular traditional Chinese drink. It literally translates as “Yellow Alcohol / Spirit” and is made from millet, rice and wheat. Its alcohol content is usually around 15-20%, so much less than Baijiu.
Although the name is “Yellow Alcohol”, Huangjiu actually comes in lots of different colours, clear, cloud, yellowish and even a reddish colour. 米酒 (Mǐjiǔ) or Chinese rice wine is generally considered to be a type of Huangjiu.
As well as Chinese traditional spirits, beer has become a popular drink in China and there are plenty of Chinese brands brewing it. Now on to learning more names of alcohol in Chinese, check out the video below for the names of of our favourite drinks in Chinese and keep on reading for more information about alcohol in China and lots of tips on how to order!
1. Alcohol in Chinese – Beer
2. Alcohol in Chinese – Wine
3. Alcohol in Chinese – Spirits
4. Alcohol in Chinese – Mixers
5. Alcohol in Chinese – Cocktails
6. Alcohol in Chinese – Essential Words and Phrases
Beer in Chinese
The generic word for beer in Chinese:
Chinese Characters: 啤酒
Meaning: Literally “Beer Alcohol”
Chinese beers in general are quite weak and fizzy lagers. Here are some of the top brands you might encounter:
青岛啤酒 Qīngdǎo píjiǔ = Tsingdao Beer
雪花啤酒 Xuěhuā píjiǔ = Snow Beer
燕京啤酒 Yàn jīng píjiǔ = Yanjing Beer
哈尔滨啤酒 Hā’ěrbīn píjiǔ = Haerbin Beer
Tsingtao is one of the most famous Chinese beers. The Tsingtao brewery was founded by German settlers to Qingdao in 1903. The difference in spelling with the brand and the place is because the beer brand still uses the older form of writing the place name in the roman alphabet “Tsingtao” – this uses the Wade-Giles format. “Qingdao” is the modern pinyin version.
The English-Germany company was turned into a private Chinese brewery after the Chinese defeat of the Japanese in WW2. However it became a state owned enterprise soon after, when the Chinese Communist Party took power and was only privatised again in the early 1990s.
You’ll find Tsingtao Beer all across China, but in Qingdao itself the beer is brewed with mineral water from the nearby “Laoshan Spring” to make it extra tasty. You might also find the stronger Tsingtao dark beer too.
Since 1991 the city has hosted an international beer festival each year from late July through to the end of August. It’s the largest beer festival in Asia and is not to be missed!
Here’s a list of international beer brands that you might find at your local bar:
Heineken: 喜力 xǐ lì
Corona: 科罗娜 kē luó nà
Budweiser: 百威 bǎi wēi
Carlsberg: 嘉士伯 jiā shì bó
Grolsch: 高仕 gāo shì
Asahi: 朝日 zhāo rì
Tiger: 虎牌 hǔ pái
Top tip: If you’d like a lime in corona you can ask for a 青柠檬 qīng níngméng (literally a “green lemon”).
Craft Beer in Chinese
China’s craft beer scene is a fairly new phenomenon across the country, but it’s certainly growing. Hit up one of the larger cities like Beijing and Shanghai (and increasingly in smaller cities too) and you’ll find a selection of micro-breweries pouring out classic ales, as well as those with a Chinese twist. But how do you go about ordering a pint of one of these?!
Well the general word for ale in Chinese is:
艾尔啤酒 Ài ěr píjiǔ = Literally “Ale Beer”
and an IPA for example would be:
印度淡色艾尔啤酒 Yìndù dànsè ài ěr píjiǔ = Literally ” India Light-Coloured Ale Beer”
Though these terms aren’t really used all that often in the beer-ordering process. Mainly, because each brewery has a specific name for each beer, which you won’t know until you get to a bar and check out their menu. Instead, you can ask for the kind of type of beer that you’d like and the friendly bartender might be able to recommend a couple of options. In general beers in Chinese are categorised by colour as follows:
白啤 Bái pí = White Beer (usually some kind of wheat beer)
黄啤 huáng pí = Yellow Beer (a lager or something similar)
红啤 hóng pí = Red Beer (possible a pale, or a red ale)
黑啤 hēi pí = Dark/Black Beer (a stout, porter or dark ale)
Example sentence: 有什么黑啤？Yǒu shé me hēi pí? – Which dark beers do you have?
If you’re lucky they’ll give you a few options to choose from.
Do you want your beer cold?
What kind of question is that?! We know. But it’s one you might hear in China. It sounds like this:
冰的还是常温的？bīngde háishì chángwēnde? – Literally “ice-y or room temperature?”
The answer is: 冰的 bīngde – ice-y or cold
Wine in Chinese
Wine consumption in China has grown significantly since the 1980s, and China is now in the top ten of global markets for wine. Vineyards in China are also growing in number, with wine being produced across the country in Ningxia, Xinjiang, Hebei, Shandong, Shanxi Provinces among other regions.
But how do you say wine in Chinese?
葡萄酒 pú táo jiǔ – literally “grape alcohol’
Red Wine in Chinese
Chinese Characters: 红酒
Pinyin: Hóng jiǔ
Meaning: “Red Alcohol”
White Wine in Chines
Chinese Characters: 热巧克力
Pinyin: Bái pú táo jiǔ
Meaning: “White grape alcohol”
Note: For white wine we’ve written out the full name “white grape alcohol” whereas for red wine we’ve used the abbreviation “red alcohol”. This is because the Chinese for “white alcohol” is used as the name for the strong Chinese spirit “白酒 baijiu” which we mentioned at the start of the article.
Make sure you don’t get confused and order yourself a “baijiu” instead of a white wine!
Sparkling Wine in Chinese
The generic way of saying sparkling wine is:
Chinese Characters: 气泡酒
Pinyin: qìpào jiǔ
Meaning: Literally “bubble alcohol”
So for sparkling wine from a specific country you’d just add the name of that country on the front of the word. Check out our country blog for a detailed list of country names in chinese!
If you’re looking for champagne though, this is a bit different.
Champagne in Chinese:
Chinese Characters: 香槟酒
Meaning: The Chinese name is translated to sound like Champagne, so this just means ” Champagne alcohol”.
Spirits in Chinese
So we’ve been through the traditional Chinese spirits above, but what if you’d just like to order a classic? Check out our list below of some of the more popular spirits as well as some mixers, and how to put them together!
Vodka in Chinese
Pinyin: fú tè jiā
Rum in Chinese
Chinese Characters: 朗姆酒
Pinyin: lǎng mǔ jiǔ
Gin in Chinese
Pinyin: jīn jiǔ
Meaning: Gin (literally “gold alcohol”)
Whiskey in Chinese
Chinese Characters: 威士忌
Pinyin: wèi shì jì
Tequila in Chinese
And how about your favourite shot?
Chinese Characters: 龙舌兰酒
Pinyin: lóng shé lán jiǔ
Literally this is an interesting one, it means “dragon tongue orchid alcohol”.
Remember we taught you how to say lime earlier for your corona?
Well don’t forget the salt! 盐 yán!
Mixers in Chinese
And how about if you’d like a mixer with that? Here are a few to get your started, along with a couple of favourites but together:
- 汽水 qì shuǐ = Soda water
- 可乐 kě lè = Cola
- 雪碧 xuě bì = Sprite
- 芬达 fēn dá = Fanta
Gin and Tonic in Chinese (G & T）
Chinese Characters: 金汤力
Pinyin: jīn tāng lì
Meaning: Gin and tonic
Whisky Coke in Chinese
Chinese Characters: 威士忌可乐
Pinyin: wēi shì jì kě lè
Meaning: Whiskey coke
Cocktails in Chinese
The Chinese word for cocktail is exactly how it sounds in English:
鸡尾酒 jī wěi jiǔ – “Chicken Tail Alcohol”
Well maybe you want to be able to impress your date with your Chinese skills when you go to order, or perhaps you just like trying different cocktails, here’s a list our favourites to get you started:
Margarita in Chinese
Chinese Characters: 玛格丽特
Pinyin: mǎ gé lì tè
Mojito in Chinese
Chinese Characters: 莫吉托
Pinyin: mò jí tuō
Martini in Chinese
Chinese Characters: 马天呢
Pinyin: mǎ tiān ne
Pina Colada in Chinese
Chinese Characters: 椰林飘香
Pinyin: yē lín piāo xiāng
Meaning: Pina Colada
Mimosa in Chinese (Or Buck’s Fizz)
Chinese Characters: 含羞草
Pinyin: hán xiū cǎo
Whiskey Sour in Chinese
Chinese Characters: 威士忌酸
Pinyin: wēishìjì suān
Meaning: Whiskey Sour
Singapore Sling in Chinese
Chinese Characters: 新加坡司令
Pinyin: xīn jiā pō sī lìng
Meaning: Singapore Sling
Old Fashioned in Chinese
Chinese Characters: 古典酒
Pinyin: gǔdiǎn jiǔ
Meaning: Old Fashioned
Chinese Characters: 浓缩咖啡马天尼
Pinyin: nóngsuō kāfēi mǎ tiān ní
Meaning: Espresso Martini
Irish Coffee in Chinese
Chinese Characters: 爱尔兰咖啡
Pinyin: Ài’ěrlán kāfēi
Meaning: Irish Coffee
For those of you who are coffee enthusiasts, you might want to check out our essential guide to order a coffee too:
More Cocktails in Chinese
Incase we forgot some of your favourites, here’s some more cocktail names in Chinese. If yours still didn’t make the list, let us know in the comments and we’ll add it!
- White Russian (白俄罗斯 – bái è luó sī)
- Bloody Mary (血腥玛丽 – xuè xīng mǎ lì)
- Cosmopolitan: 大都会 (dà dōu huì)
- Long Island Iced Tea: 长岛冰茶 (cháng dǎo bīng chá)
- Mai Tai: 美态 (měi tài)
- Tequila Sunrise: 龙舌兰日出 (lóng shé lán rì chū)
- Strawberry Daiquiri: 草莓戴吉利酒 (cǎo méi dài jí lì jiǔ)
More Essential Drinking Vocabulary in Chinese
Now that you know all of the alcohol in Chinese, you’re almost ready to start ordering your own drinks. Here are a few more essential words and phrases to help you along your way:
Bar = 酒吧 jiǔ bā (essential if you want to find a place to drink)
- A bottle = 一瓶 yì píng
- A glass/cup = 一杯 yì bēi
- A can = 一听 yì tīng
So an example could be:
- 一杯红酒 yībēi hóngjiǔ
One glass of red wine
- 两瓶科罗纳 liǎng píng kē luō nà
Two bottles of Corona
- 你想喝什么 nǐ xiǎng hē shén me – What would you like to drink?
- 你想喝啤酒还是红酒? nǐ xiǎng hē píjiǔ háishì hóngjiǔ? – Would you like to drink beer or red wine?
- 我想喝… wǒ xiǎng hē – I’d like to drink
- 酒水单 jiǔshuǐ dān – drinks menu
Cheers in Chinese!
And finally, cheers and happy drinking! If you need the names of more alcohol in Chinese, let us know in the comments below.
干杯 (gān bēi)!
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