The native guide; All about unique JapanThe Native Ultimate Guide; How To Enjoy Shochu Like A Japanese

The Native Ultimate Guide; How To Enjoy Shochu Like A Japanese

how to enjoy shochu like a japaneseFood & Drinks
Food & Drinks

“Shochu”(焼酎) is the popular alcohol in Japan, as I talk about here.

Due to its unique aroma and flavors especially in Potato Shochu, Awamori, Brown sugar Shochu, sometimes it takes time to get used to it.

Wait a minute!

Shochu is a kind of alcohol that you can enjoy in various ways like other distilled spirits. People who are not good at drinking alcohol can enjoy “Shochu” depending on how you make a mixed drink.

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 of “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 Cocktail


shochu on the rock

The simple and common way is mixing with cold water and ice.

The taste will be very soft remains its aroma and flavor when the shochu is mixed with water.

Better use soft waterand ice cubes made from mineral water, in this way, ice and water will not bother taste.

  1. Fill a glass with ice cubes and add shochu in a glass.
  2. Top with mineral water and stir gently for three times.

The ratio of shochu and water has no rule, however, it is said Shochu : Water = 6 : 4 or 5 :5.


oyuwari, hot water, shochu

“Oyu”(お湯) means “Hot water”, this way is also a common way to enjoy Shochu taste. In this way, not only it can boost the shochu scent, but also you can feel the alcohol more.

“Imo Jochu” or “Kome Jochu” is recommended for Oyuwari due to the sweet and fruity flavor that they have.

If you want to know kinds of Shochu at first, read here first.

The tip for making perfect “Oyuwari”, the temperature of hot water should be 113F. Simply pour boiling water into a pot or cup and transfer to another cup or heat-safe glass that you are going to use.

ceramics, oyuwari, shochu

  1. Ready 113F hot water in your preferred cup.
  2. Pour Shochu gently filled up to 80% of the cup.
  3. Stir a couple of times. *Shochu is heavier than hot water, so you don’t have to stir well.

The preferred ratio is “Shochu : Hot water = 6 : 4“.


Alcohol drinks mixed with carbonated water, sparkling water or club soda are called “Highball”.

One of the popular “highball”s in Japan is “Whiskey Highball” aka “Whiskey soda” in other countries.

In the same category, a drink that Shochu is mixed with carbonated water is called “Shochu highball”.

You can enjoy “Mugi Jochu” as the refreshment so it can be the perfect way for Shochu beginners.

The carbonated water is better used soft water and also water and glass should be refrigerated before make.

soda, shochu, carbonated water, fruits

  1. Use a tall, narrow-mouthed glass (which preserves the bubbles). Fill ice cubes with glass and stir a few times to chill the glass.
  2. Pour Shochu a little less than half of the glass and stair again with a muddler so that ice and shochu are mixed. *add ice cubes if needed
  3. Add the carbonated water or club soda, and stir once.

Keeping fizz is very important, so pour carbonated water gently from close the top of the glass and also don’t stir well.

Do you have a hard time finding the carbonated water with strong fizz? You can make own carbonated water and never make it flat because you can carbonate water over and over as I do. (For only water, not flavored)

I drink “Shochu highball”, “vodka highball”, “whiskey highball” every day so I make carbonated water with MAX fizz every other day!

Have you ever heard “Sodastream”???

It’s easy to use, saving money and waste.

To be honest? I love it!

When you want to make “Chuhai”, add fruit drops in carbonated water!


“Mae-wari”(前割り) is mixing the shochu with water and rest it more than 24 hours before drinking.

By resting for over 24 hours, shochu and water are well blended and make it more smooth and rich without a taste of stimulating alcohol.

It is common in Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu island, especially for the special day.

Use clean a bottle or a special iconic “Shochu” server, pour Shochu and water (shouldn’t be tap water), 6 : 4.

Rest it for 24 hours, then keep it in refrigerator. Will last for 10 days.

You can enjoy any way with “Mae-wari”, straight, on the rock, hot, soda-wari…

Other Drinks


It is OK to mix coke, ginger ale, but you can try “Shochu Cocktails” below.

Fruit Juice

Simply you can mix with fruit juice such as Orange, grapefruits.

Here’s some idea of cocktails.

shochu, sunrise, cocktail

“Shochu Sunrise” In a highball glass filled with ice, pour in the Shochu (Imojochu preferred) and orange juice. Slowly pour the grenadine(5ml) into the glass over the back of a spoon or by drizzling it down the side of the glass, allowing it to settle at the bottom.

caipirinha, cocktail, shochu

“Shochu caipirinha” Cut a half lime or lemon into small wedges. Put 1-2 TBS of sugar, citrus wedges into a large rocks glass, and use a muddler to gently crush and squeeze out the juice from the wedges. Fill crushed ice with glass and pour”Shochu” and stir well.


variety of tea leaves

In Japan, it is also a popular way to enjoy Shochu mixed with “Japanese green tea” or “Oolong tea”.

Mixed with Japanese green tea is “Ocya-wari”(お茶割り) or “Ryokucya-hai”(緑茶ハイ), with “oolong tea” is “(w)uron-hai”(ウーロンハイ).

Believe or not, mixing with tea is saied “hard to get hung over” next day.

(There is no  scientific proof.)

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.

Enjoy “Shochu” with your favorite tea such as English tea, Jasmine tea, Japanese roasted tea…


cucumber, cocktail, gin, shochu

Putting slices of cucumber in the “on the rock” of Shochu is called “Kappa”(かっぱ) in Japanese.

Slices of cucumber are a very common garnish for gin in the UK, and Gin and Shochu are in the same category, “Distilled sprits”.

Why not?!

It gives it a honeydew melon-like scent, and the mysterious flavor is addictive.

At Last…

Shochu has been loved in Japan for a long time, is not only unique in variety but also can be enjoyed in countless ways.

Find the one that suits your taste in various ways and enjoys the Shochu life to the fullest.

how to enjoy shochu like a japanese


You might be interesting in Izakayas in Japan.

Also Non-alcoholic Drinks in Japan.


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