Shochu Advanced: Enjoy Shochu Cocktails at Home

Shochu is a distilled alcoholic drink enjoyed in Japan for centuries, and it’s often introduced as Japanese vodka to non-Japanese. This explanation might give you a broad idea of what it is, but it does not correctly describe the beauty of shochu. Shochu can be made from various base ingredients, such as sweet potato, barley, rice, brown sugar, sesame, tea, citrus, dates and many, many more. And because of the beautifully expressed flavors of the base ingredients, shochu can be a great addition to America’s cocktail-centric alcoholic beverage culture. But enjoying shochu as a cocktail is actually pretty advanced. Japanese people still prefer shochu as-is, meaning on-the-rocks or cut with cold/hot water or soda in order to appreciate its flavor. It takes mastering to blend shochu with other drinks, juices, mixers and bitters without losing the features of its base ingredients. Therefore, before going to that level please review the basics summarized below. Then you can try making the amazing 10 shochu cocktail recipes introduced on the following pages, maximizing each shochu’s feature.

What is Shochu? And What is Behind its Flavor?

Shochu, as defined by the government, is categorized into two types: Singly distilled with less than 45% alcohol content and multiply distilled with less than 36% alcohol content. The former is called honkaku sho- chu and the latter ko-rui shochu. Singly distilled honkaku shochu has a more distinct flavor from its base ingredients than multi- ply distilled ko-rui, and naturally the former is pricier than the latter.

Base ingredients are, of course, a major determination in producing shochu’s unique characteristics, but there are other factors that come into play. The selection of koji is one of the things. Koji is a type of mold that breaks down base ingredients into sugar that is necessary for fermentation. Black, white, and yellow koji are the three most of- ten used in shochu making. Water is anoth- er factor in determining flavor. Distillers use local water, which contributes to producing unique shochu.

Distillers also play with distilling methods to obtain the desired taste. The atmospher- ic distillation method is conducted under normal pressure when the boiling point is 100°C, while the reduced pressure dis- tillation method is conducted under re- duced pressure, which enables boiling at about 50°C. The former method is perfect for retaining base ingredients’ flavor, and the latter is effective in minimizing any excess flavors from ingredients.

Storing and aging methods may affect flavors as well. The environment and facili- ties where shochu is stored help shochu ma- ture differently, resulting in different flavors.

Akazaru Mojito

Akazaru Mojito

Akazaru Mojito

Ingredients: Serves 1

□ 4 oz Akazaru
□ 4 oz seltzer or sparkling water
□ ½ lime, juiced
□ Mint leaves to garnish

Directions

1. Add lime juice and mint leaves in a glass and mash mint leaves.
2. Add ice and pour Akazaru and seltzer gently.
3. Garnish with mint leaves.

Akazaru
Crafted with “Norin #56” known as “The King of Purple Sweet Potato”, Akazaru boasts a deep and mellow aroma and distinct sweetness.
Komasa Jyozo Co., Ltd.
http://en.komasa.co.jp

Creamy Lento

Creamy Lento

Creamy Lento

Ingredients: Serves 1

□ 1oz Lento
□ 1 oz Amaretto
□ 1 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream
□ 1 tsp espresso
□ Cinnamon powder to garnish

Directions

1. Put Lento, Amaretto, and Bailey’s Irish Cream into a shaker with ice and shake well.
2. Strain into a Champagne flute glass with ice.
3. Carefully pour the espresso on top and garnish with cinnamon powder.

Lento
This brown sugar shochu matures with classical music whose vibration transcends through tanks. It’s as mellow and smooth as the music.
Amami Oshima Kaiun Brewing Corp.
www.lento.co.jp

Flying Kappa

Flying Kappa

Flying Kappa

Ingredients: Serves 1

□ 2 oz Kappa No Sasoi Mizu
□ 1/2 oz yuzu juice
 (alt. 3/4 oz pineapple juice)
□ 3 1/2 oz Moscato d’Asti
 (alt. sparkling sweet wine)

Directions

1. Chill Kappa no Sasoi Mizu and yuzu juice mixture over ice.
2. Strain into a chilled Champagne flute glass.
3. Top with Moscato d’Asti.

Kappa no Sasoi Mizu
Elegant, clean flavor of sweet potato with a hint of nuts is the beautiful feature of this shochu. Great with sashimi and carpaccio.

Kyoya Distiller & Brewer Co., Ltd.
www.kyo-ya.com

iichitini

iichitini

iichitini

Ingredients: Serves 1

□ 1 1/2 oz iichiko Silhouette 25%
□ 1/2 oz dry Curaçao
□ 1/2 oz Manzanilla sherry

Directions

1. Put all ingredients into a shaker or a glass with ice and stir.
2. Strain into a chilled martini glass.
3. Garnish with a lemon twist.

iichiko Silhouette 25%
Made with barley and barley koji, this hugely popular shochu releases a fruity aroma and delicate fruit flavor with a hint of a mineral finish.
iichiko
www.iichiko.co.jp/en

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