Erguotou (simplified Chinese: 二锅头; traditional Chinese: 二鍋頭; pinyin: èrguōtóu; lit. 'second pot head, i.e. second distillation') is a Chinese liquor. It is a type of light-aroma baijiu made from sorghum. The most famous brands are Red Star (红星, Hóngxīng)[1] and Niulanshan (牛栏山), both from Beijing. It is available in various strengths, the average being 50% alcohol by volume or 100 proof.[2]

Red Star Erguotou on shelves (20200202160825).jpg
Bottles of the two most famous brands of erguotou, Red Star and Niulanshan (at far right)
ManufacturerRed Star, Niulanshan among others
Country of originChina
Region of originBeijing
IntroducedMid-Qing dynasty
Alcohol by volume44%-56%
Proof (US)88-112
FlavourLight aroma
Bottles of Red Star erguotou at 53% abv.

"Red Star was the first distillery formed in the People's Republic [of China]"[3] In 1949, many of the old distilleries had either been destroyed in the civil war or gone out of business, so it was a group of twelve former baijiu distilleries that came together to form the new 'Red Star' distillery. "Red Star master blender Wang Qiufang watered down the èrguōtóu from the standard 68 percent alcohol level to a more palatable 65...a Japanese Communist who fought against his compatriots in World War II designed the label, which also remains more or less unchanged."[4]

The name "second distillation" [二锅头] indicates its level of purity. It is a clear, potent spirit and takes six months to produce. It is one of the most commonly drunk baijiu in Beijing, and thus has a deep cultural association with China's capital and beyond.[5] According to Drunk in China author Derek Sandhaus, it is considered "the Coca-Cola of baijius".

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Alessandro De Toni. "Red Star – Alcohol for the masses -". Archived from the original on 29 July 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  2. ^ "Baijiu factory tour: How Chinese brew their national liquor | CNN Travel". '. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  3. ^ Derek Sandhaus, Drunk in China: Baijiu and the World's Oldest Drinking Culture, Nebraska: U. of Nebraska Press: Potomac Books, 2019, p. 88
  4. ^ Sandhaus, p. 88.
  5. ^ PERRY, MARJORIE (9 April 2019). "Everything You Need to Know About Baijiu, the World's Most Popular Liquor". Esquire. Retrieved 12 April 2020.