The illegal trade in alcohol has been an empirical manifestation of organised crime with a very long history; yet, the nature of the illegal trade in alcohol has received relatively limited academic attention in recent years despite the fact that it has been linked with significant tax evasion as well as serious health problems and even deaths. The current article focuses on a specific type associated with the illegal trade in alcohol, the counterfeiting of alcohol in China. The article pays particular attention to the counterfeiting of baijiu, Chinese liquor in mainland China. The aim of the article is to offer an account of the social organisation of alcohol counterfeiting business in China by illustrating the counterfeiting process, the actors in the business as well as its possible embeddedness in legal practices and industries/trades. The alcohol counterfeiting business is highly reflective to the market demand and consumer needs. Alcohol counterfeiting in China is characterised primarily by independent actors many of whom are subcontracted to provide commodities and services about the counterfeiting process. The business relies on personal networks – family and extended family members, friends and acquaintances. Relationships between actors in the business are very often based on a customer-supplier relationship or a ‘business-to-business market’. The alcohol counterfeiting business in China highlights the symbiotic relationship between illegal and legal businesses.