How To Enjoy Japanese Sochu And Make Some Cocktails With It!

The Best Spirit You’ve (Probably) Never Tasted: Japan’s Shochu
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How To Enjoy Japanese Sochu And Make Some Cocktails With It!

Shochu is a kind of Japanese traditional spirit. Its Alcohol content varies usually from 25 to 30% and it has taste and smell that are quite characteristic and different from sake. Shochu can be enjoyed simply straight, on the rock, but it makes a nice cocktail base as well, by adding fruit juices and other beverages. This post will list only the most popular shochu-based drinks you can make on your own in a whim!

What is Shochu (焼酎)…?

Shochu is a kind of Japanese traditional spirit. Its Alcohol content varies usually from 25 to 30%, but it can go up to 40% for some brands such as the Awamori originally produced in Okinawa. Unlike sake, which is a brewed alcohol made from rice only, shochu is made from many kinds of ingredients such as Japanese sweet potatoes, barley, rice, and buckwheat.

Its unique taste and high alcohol by volume content have been the reasons why Japanese drunkards have loved it for decades!

Shochu was originally made in the Kyushu region, but nowadays it is produced in all areas of Japan.

You can enjoy shochu just like whiskeys and any other kinds of spirit. For instance, have it on the rocks, diluted with water, with soda, and it’s even an excellent drink to mix with Japanese teas.

Just sooo many ways to enjoy your shochu!

Straight Shochu

Just like other spirits such as whiskey and vodka, drinking shochu just by itself is always a good way to enjoy the true taste of the beverage. Connoisseur like to drink it that way. I mentioned above that shochu is a drink for drunkards, which is true, but it can also be a classy drink too. There are some very cheap and some very expensive ones. Unlike sake, shochu doesn’t need to be chilled or heated when drank as is. Serving it at room temperature is fine.

Shochu on the rock

Strongly recommended by shochu lovers, and also a good classy way to enjoy shochu if you’ve never tried it, drinking it on the rocks (with ice) is a good way to enjoy the pure taste of the drink. It’s better not to drink the moment it was served to you. Let the ice melt for a minute as it releases the subtle flavors of shochu.

When you order a bottle of shochu, you will be served with a bucket full of ice along with your glasses.

Shochu mizuwari (with water)

Mizuwari, or having your shochu with some cold water, is another good way to enjoy shochu. The best ratio of shochu to water is 3:2, a bit more of shochu than water to preserve the original taste of shochu.

Shochu oyuwari (with hot water)

In Japan, mostly in the winter season, people sometimes have shochu mixed with hot water. In order to make a great Oyuwari, add hot water to the glass first. Then, add the shochu which is heavier than water. The difference in density will create a movement which will mix the drink by itself. The best ratio will of shochu to hot water is also 3:2.

In the shivering winter seasons, this hot drink will give you a great relaxing time!

Sochu soda-wari (with soda)

If you want something sweeter and sparkly, simply replace your cold water with soda. This is a very popular way to drink it too.

Shochu Cocktails, Chu-hi (チューハイ)

The most interesting feature of shochu is that any kind of shochu can be mixed in to make some cocktails. Generally speaking, light-tasting shochu is better than strong-tasting shochu, when you are making cocktails. Also, the light-tasting ones are generally cheaper.

There are no rules when making shochu cocktails and the cocktails can be based on any kind of beverages you like. You can mix in orange juice just like when you make a screw-driver cocktail, or coke and any other beverage.

Fresh fruit chu-hi

One of the most popular kinds of shochu cocktails is fruit chu-his. Usually, the shochu is cut by soda and some fruit syrups of juices are added to give taste. For the freshest tasting ones, there are some izakaya bars which offers their drinks with seasonal fresh fruit juices! Sometimes, you even get to press them yourself at your table.

The popular fruits for shochu cocktails are lemon, grapefruit, yuzu (Japanese lemon), and ume (Japanese plums).

Tea based chu-hi

Instead of cutting your shochu with water, why don’t you cut them with some tea beverages? Oolong-hi (oolong tea) and Ryokucha-hi (green tea) are two very popular types of shochu tea cocktails.

Unlike fruit-based shochu cocktails listed above, tea-based chu-his are not sweet and complement Japanese cuisine very well.


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