I talked about the basics of “Japanese Shochu”(焼酎) in this post, it has been rooted in the Japanese drinking culture from ancient years, and Shochu is a kind of alcohol that you can enjoy in various ways like other distilled spirits.
In this article, I am going to introduce popular ways to enjoy “Shochu” in Japan to give you some hints of “Shochu drinks”.
I recommend you to start with “MugiJochu”(made from barley) or “KomeJochu”(made from rice) if you are a beginner at “Shochu”.
“MugiJochu” is very dry and clear taste, “KomeJochu” is smooth and hints of sweetness and fruity.
If you like “Potato Vodka”, you may already ready for “Imo Jochu”(made from Japanese sweet potatoes).
In any way, let’s try and enjoy it!
- The Basic And Simple Way To Enjoy Japanese Shochu
- Other Ways To Enjoy Shochu
- Enjoy Shochu Cocktails More With Topping
- The Bottom Line
The Basic And Simple Way To Enjoy Japanese Shochu
There are roughly two types of shochu, “Otsurui shochu (genuine shochu)” and “Kourui shochu”, and the way to enjoy them differ slightly depending on the type. (If you want to know about details of these kinds, read this post.)
The most standard way to enjoy Otsurui Shochu is preferred to taste as it is such as straight, on the rock, with cold/hot water.
On the other hand, Kourui shochu with a refreshing and smooth taste is generally used for classic cocktails. The most popular ways in Japan are shochu with carbonated water, club soda, fruit juice, and green tea.
The most standard way to drink shochu is probably “mizuwari”-mixed with cold water.
This simple but supreme way, I will tell you how to make the best “mizuwari” at home.
However, it is not enough to just mix shochu and water, and there are some keys when making it. The mizuwari technique is such a deep!
If you mix the shochu with water, it will have a sharp but mellow taste, it is like all flavor and aroma components comprehensive to one round taste.
When making mizuwari, the alcohol content is of course reduced. By dividing by water, the alcohol content will be within 5-10%. It will change depending on the kind of shochu and the ratio. This is why it is nice to adjust the strength you want to drink.
Finally, here are the steps on how to make delicious Mizuwari-Shochu. As a prep, keep the shochu chilled in the refrigerator.
Fill Ice In a Glass
First, fill a glass with ice cubes until 80% high. Large ice cubes are better. Then spin the ice with a bar spoon to cool the entire glass. Add few ice cubes to fill the glass.
Pour Shochu Until 60% Of The Glass
It’s time to pour shochu. You can choose the amount you like, but there is the perfect ratio I want to introduce.
The golden ratio of shochu mizuwari is to pour about 60% and add the remaining 40% with water. It is called “Rokuyon” in Japan among connoisseurs.
You don’t have to follow the ratio, but if you like to try the authentic mizuwari, please try Rokuyon way.
Stir Shochu and Ice With A Bar Spoon
Stir the poured shochu well to chilled the shochu.
Chill the glass with ice, and also chill the shochu in the icy cold. Now it’s ready for the water.
Finally, add water. Pour water about 40% according to the golden ratio. Use mineral water instead of tap water for a habit-free taste. Stir well again to complete.
Use The Best Glass For Mizuwari-Shochu
Connoisseurs are particular about glasses for a drink.
When a glass is thick, you naturally open your mouth wide, so it is better to enjoy feeling the back of your throat rather than sniffing the scent. Beer mugs are a good example.
On the other hand, when you want to enjoy the aroma, a thin glass is more suitable.
Therefore, thin glass is recommended to enjoy especially Honkaku Shochu or Otsurui Shochu which you want to enjoy flavor and aroma delivered from raw materials.
Especially, the best way to enjoy Honkaku Shochu (genuine shochu) and awamori from Okinawa is “with hot water” which is said to prove the real deep value of the Shochu.
The Kyushu region is known for high-quality shochu production, locals enjoy “Oyuwari” throughout the year. Because they know delicate umami ingredients of Honkaku shochu and awamori can be pulled out by warming up with hot water.
Oyuwari is also simple to make as well as Mizuwari, but there are some tips to make it more delicious.
Bring The Temperature Of The Hot Water To 70 ℃/158 F
The tip of making delicious Oyuwari is the temperature of 40-45 ℃/104-113F when it is finished.
The complete boiled water (100℃ and more) is not suitable for making shochu with hot water because it can blow away the aroma and flavor of shochu. It also stimulates the tongue, making it impossible to enjoy the original taste.
Therefore, wait until the temperature of the hot water settles at 70 to 75 degrees Celsius.
You can achieve just the right temperature by transferring boiling water to another container.
Also, easy to get cold due to the friction of water molecules when using a microwave to warm the water. Use a kettle or pot on the stove if you want to make the best.
The Best Glass/cup/mug For Oyuwari
The glass (cup, mug) should be chosen following these tips.
- Choose a small glass (cup, mug) than a large one. It is good to drink up Oyuwari before the water gets cold.
- If you use pottery, you can enjoy the original sweetness of shochu.
- A Stainless steel glass has a high heat-retaining effect
- A heat-resistant glass has a beautiful and elegant impression.
Choose one that makes Oyuwari more enjoyable to your liking.
Hot Water First, Then Shochu
Once the hot water and the glass are ready, it’s time to make Oyuwari.
First, the best ratio of Oyuwari is as well as Mizuwari- Shochu 6 : Water 4. (Rokuyon.)
Second, the best order to make delicious Oyuwari is “hot water first, then shochu.”
This is because you can enjoy the aroma and flavor of shochu first, and convection occurs due to the temperature difference between shochu and hot water, making it naturally mix both. As a result, the original aroma and umami are enhanced, and the alcoholic habits are suppressed and make it mellow and round.
Shochu with fizzy water is also popular in Japan, and it’s almost the same steps to make “Mizuwari”. Because of the simple cocktail, select thoughtfully ingredients and tools to make it delicious.
I need to explain what “soda” is referred to in this term in Japan, and it commonly refers to “carbonated water”. So, shochu with carbonated water is called “Soda-wari” in Japan.
Generally, soda-wari doesn’t contain any sweeter but some Izakayas add sweeter so it is hard to define whether sodawari is sweet or not here.
Anyway, note that soda refers to carbonated water in this post.
Choose Normal Carbonated Water
I think that many people usually just buy commercial carbonated water available, but let’s stick to the water. Even it alone will change the taste. There are various kinds of carbonated water, choose “soda with fewer minerals components” if possible. In other words, better avoid natural sparkling water such as Perrier.
Also, cool the soda well.
It’s an idea you can make own fizzy water at home with SodaStream.
The Best Glass
The thin glass is also palatable. You can enjoy shochu with soda not only by taste but also by vision, so use a thin glass.
The Perfect Ratio Of Shochu With Soda “4 : 6”
First, let’s look at the ratios of shochu with soda. The best ratio is “Shochu 4: Soda 6”.
In the case of Mizuwari and Oyuwari, the so-called Rokuyon of shochu 6: water 4 is considered to be perfect, but the contrary is true for Sodawari. The carbonic acid in the soda lifts the flavor, making it a little thinner than the water.
By the way, the alcohol content is now about 10%.
It is lower than one in wine and Japanese sake, so even those who are not good at strong alcohol can enjoy it.
Stir Shochu With Soda Once
The steps to make Sodawari is the same except for the last step. In the case of Sodawari, stir gently it only once complete.
This is because to keep fizzy as possible of course, and since the carbonic acid bubbles lift the Shochu, it is not necessary to stir it many times.
“Sodawari” Or “Shochu High Ball”???
Alcohol drinks mixed with carbonated water are called “Highball”. The most famous is “Whiskey Highball.”
In Japan, highball refers to “Whiskey highball” because it is so popular so it is called “Shochu high ball” when the cocktail used Shochu.
Technically, Sodawari and Shochu high ball is the same drink, and it is more confusing when the Japanese call “Chu-Hi” which is sometimes the same drink but sometimes not.
Mae-wari is one of the classic ways to enjoy Shochu along with straight, on the rocks, Mizuwari, and Oyuwari. Add water to shochu, dilute it to the desired concentration in advance, and let it sit for a few days to a week before drinking.
It is a connoisseur’s favorite way, and also in the Kyushu region, especially Kagoshima, it is served for hospitality at parties since ancient times.
By resting for over 24 hours, shochu and water are well blended and make it more smooth, mellow and rounded, and rich without habits.
How to make Mae-wari shochu is very simple. Simply mix the shochu and water in a clean bottle in the desired ratio, and let it sit in the refrigerator for about one night to a week.
It is OK whatever the bottle available in your kitchen, but the best result is a bottle that blocks lights.
if you have a iconic pottery “Shochu” server“, the atmosphere will improve.
When using a shochu with an alcohol content of 25%, the ratio of shochu to water is about 6 to 4, but you can adjust it to your liking. Also, it is recommended to use soft mineral water instead of tap water.
The taste of shochu can be significantly improved by Maewari, and it is also attractive to find your favorite ratio and resting days. Maewari Shochu also can be enjoyable with a straight, on the rock. When you make it warm, soak a heat-resistance glass or mug filled Maewari Shochu in boiled water until it gets warm. Enjoy to have “Maewari” experiment and find your favorite taste.
Other Ways To Enjoy Shochu
In Japan, it is also a popular way to enjoy Shochu mixed with “Japanese green tea” or “Oolong tea”.
Pour the shochu first and then add the tea. Believe it or not, mixing with green tea is said “hard to get hungover” the next day. Also, you can enjoy not only cold tea but also hot tea. When using hot tea, pour the tea first and then add the shochu.
Green tea contains vitamin C and caffeine and also helps increase glucose in the blood to break down alcohol.
Also, oolong tea has a diuretic effect, alcohol is easily discharged out of the body.
Not only green tea and oolong tea, but you can also enjoy it with your favorite tea such as English tea, Jasmine tea.
In another way to enjoy Ochawari, it is ideal to make homemade tea-infused Shochu which is no technique is required.
You may wonder whether coffee and shochu go well together. However, the aroma of coffee and the umami of shochu combine nicely to create a fresh and unique taste.
As you know, Coffee is originally a drink that goes well with alcohol which has been used in cocktails such as “Irish coffee” with whiskey and “Cafe Royale” with brandy.
Add coffee to the shochu and stir gently. Barley shochu, Awamori,and Soba shochu go well with the coffee flavor.
It will be good as a dessert cocktail top with milk, vanilla ice cream, or fresh cream if you like.
If you are a coffee and Shochu lover, isn’t it perfect?
The recipe is very simple. Just divide Shoochu or Awamori with hot/iced black coffee or espresso. Also, you can make coffee-infused shochu with coffee beans. It goes well with syrup and milk.
The recommended ratio of shochu and coffee is 1: 3 or 1: 4. In these ratios, Alcohol habit is moderately suppressed and is just right to feel the coffee aroma, making it delicious.
Enjoy by adding your favorite fruit juice such as orange, grapefruit, kiwi fruits. Even you can add them to Mizuwari and Sodawari. In Japan, “Nama-shibori” series is popular as Izakaya’s menu-Shochu with fresh-squeezed fruit juice”. raw squeezing”. You can also mix several kinds of fruits and enjoy your own taste.
If you need more vegetable consumption, why not add vegetable juice instead of fruit juice?
Add the desired amount of apple cider vinegar and sweeter (honey or syrup) to Miauwari. Finished with a refreshing taste.
In the summertime, using carbonate water instead of water is super refreshing and blow your fatigue because of vinegar benefit.
Enjoy Shochu Cocktails More With Topping
Umeboshi; Japanese Super-Sour Dried Plums
“Umeboshi” is a Japanese traditional dried plum-it is generally super sour and salty. (Woo, it makes my mouth water.)
It is one of the popular toppings for Shochu cocktails, and it can be enjoyed with iced/hot.
Umeboshi is also known for the effect of preventing osteoporosis and high blood pressure and recovering from fatigue.
Crush it before topping on the drink. In this way, the ingredients of umeboshi will be combined with shochu, and it can be expected health effect will be enhanced.
Above all, crushing spreads the sourness and makes it easier to drink with a unique taste.
Cucumber Topping; Kappa
Putting slices or sticks of cucumber in the Shochu on the rock is called “Kappa”(かっぱ).
Slices of cucumber are a very common garnish for gin in the UK, and Gin and Shochu are in the same category, “Distilled spirits”.
It gives it a honeydew melon-like scent, and the mysterious refreshing flavor is addictive.
“Kingyo” is a goldfish in Japanese.
As Japanese aesthetic, colorful goldfishes has been around as attractive decoration from ancient years.
People enjoy watching them in the beautiful unique water tank.
The Mizuwaru Shochu with Japanese mints and a whole dried chili is called “Kingyo”-wari because it looks like a goldfish in a water tank.
So, the Japanese enjoy it with Shochu in the glass in a stylish way. It’s not just about stylish but also tasty that you can enjoy both with tongue and eyes.
So, it is a good idea to select a unique shaped clear rock glass to enjoy atmosphere.
Besides, it has a refreshing impression at the first sip, the pungent stimulus of chili peppers becomes stronger and stronger- the addictive taste is something that other cocktails do not have.
Put ice, Shiso perilla, and a whole dried chili pepper in a glass and pour the shochu gently.
Shiso, Japanese basil, is the best result if you are looking for authenticity but it is kind of decoration to initiated as water grasses, so you can use any other leaves.
I think that it is hard to find Shiso leaves if you don’t have any oriental grocery store which especially covers enough Japanese food, so you may plant them or you may use other herbs.
Shochu can be delicious with both Otsurui and Kourui, but it is better to avoid strong flavors such as Imo Jochu.
The Bottom Line
Shochu has been loved in Japan for a long time, is not only unique in variety but also can be enjoyed in countless ways.
I have introduced how the Japanese drinkers enjoy Shochu, and I believe you understand shochu is so deep. There are more arrangements that could not tell you here today. Create as many flavors as you like, exploring your ideas. If you are a Shochu beginner, why not use this article to find the best for you?
There are some terms that you may not understand. If you like to learn the Shochu basic, here is the ultimate guide of Japanese Shochu.
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