Soju is an incredibly popular spirit that originated in Korea. And theNumber one in the world in sales of alcoholic beverages by volume, which is surprising since many people in the United States have never heard of it. What is really soju? And why do people like it so much?
What is soju?
Soju is a clear spirit that originated from Korea. It typically contains 20-24% alcohol by volume, which is very light in comparison.Vodka, which usually contains 40% ABV.Soju tastes very neutral, like vodka, but it doesn't come with the strong burn of alcohol. Although soju originated in Korea, it is popular in many Asian countries such as China and Japan.
The flavor profile of soju can vary widely as there are no strict laws governing what ingredients can be used in its manufacture. In general, the taste of soju is similar to that of vodka, but a little thicker and a little sweeter.
Soju is unique in that it is a spirit, but it does not follow the "rules" of a traditional spirit. It is very low in alcohol, which means that in some states like New York andCalifornia, can be served in restaurants without a specialty drink license🇧🇷 All that is required is a beer and wine license.
Due to its low alcohol content, soju is easy to drink neat and forms the base of a variety of low-alcohol cocktails. Soju can also be used as an alternative to vodka for those who don't want to drink to excess. This versatility is part of what makes soju so popular.
Like many spirits, soju has an intriguing history. Although soju is considered the national drink of South Korea, it actually had its beginnings elsewhere. Soju is originally from Arabia and was originally known as "Araq". The spirit was brought to South Korea by Mongol invaders in the early 13th century. According to legend, Genghis Khan himself introduced Araq to Mongolia and his grandson Kublai Khan brought it to Korea.
Traditionally, soju was made from rice and wheat. However, rice distillation was banned during the Korean War, so distillers began using alternative starches such as wheat, sweet potato, and tapioca. Many popular soju brands still use these starches today.
The traditional way of drinking soju
Like wine, soju should be consumed with food. In fact, Koreans have a whole word for food specially prepared to be consumed with alcohol: "anju." In addition to getting drunk while eating, they should always drink soju together. You should never pour your own soju.
Traditionally, an older member of the group pours some soju into a cup and hands it to you. After your glass is poured, you grab it with both hands, turn your face to the side so you don't make eye contact with the person who gave you the glass, and throw it away! After the first drink, the glasses are simply filled empty. Soju is drinkable, but shooting is more common.
Why is soju so popular?
There are many reasons why soju is popular in Asia and why it is rapidly gaining popularity in other parts of the world. Soju has little to no distinctive flavor, making it incredibly versatile. It suits a wide variety of tastes and, thanks to its low alcohol content, can be mixed into almost any cocktail.
In fact, soju's low alcohol content is another thing that makes it so popular. Light beers, low-calorie wines, and alcoholic soft drinks are incredibly popular, especially in the US They allow drinkers to enjoy alcoholic beverages without the weight, calories, and hangover. You can enjoy a lot of soju without getting drunk.
What are the best brands of soju to try?
With so many amazing brands of soju on the market, it can be hard to pick one you want to try first. We've compiled a list of some of our favorite brands to get you started in your soju-drinking circles.
Jinro 24 Soju
Jinro is the best-selling soju brand in Korea. It comes in a variety of flavors, but we recommend starting withjinro 24, the original bottle, unflavored, 24% vol. Light and easy to drink, this soju is carefully distilled for a smooth, bold flavor.
This soju can be drunk neat or mixed into a cocktail for dinner. It has a subtle character that ensures it doesn't overwhelm the accompanying dish. If you like it a bit more fruity, Jinro also makes strawberry, green grape, grapefruit, and plum flavors to name a few.
Tori Kai Soju
Tori Kai SojuIt's interesting because it's from Japan, not Korea. Tori Kai is distilled in small batches from polished, still rice and pure spring water. This soju is silky, flavorful, delicious, and highly versatile. Like most types of soju, it's wonderful served neat, chilled, or mixed into a variety of cocktails.
Chum Churum Original Soju
Distilled from a mixture of cereals and rice,Chum Churum Original Sojuis another popular brand of Korean soju. What makes chum churum unique is that it is made with alkaline water. Alkaline water has tiny mineral-rich particles that give chum churum its unique, mild flavor. It is a great starter soju as it is very low ABV and moderately sweet.
Kakushigura gealterter Gersten-Shochu
Made with barley and carefully aged in barrels,Kakushigura gealterter Gersten-ShochuIt is full-bodied and delicious, with flavors of sweet vanilla.
Unlike some varieties of soju, this brand actually offers quite a strong flavor that comes primarily from the barrel-aging process. It is recommended to drink kakushigura with ice or cold water in order to really enjoy the more subtle flavor notes.
Takara Yokaichi Mugi Shochu
Another soju from JapanTakara Yokaichi Mugi ShochuIt is very complex and goes great with any meal. It has a barley base and offers savory notes of salt, toast and buckwheat, along with more subtle sweet notes of banana, raspberry and strawberry. Due to the complex flavors, it is recommended to drink this soju neat or with ice.
Soju Cocktail Recipes
One of the best aspects of soju is its versatility, which allows it to be paired beautifully in a variety of cocktails. Here are some of our favorite soju-based mixed drink recipes.
Korean yogurt soju cocktail
Yogurt in the cocktail? It may sound strange to Americans, but yogurt-based drinks like Yakult are incredibly popular in Korea and other parts of Asia. Don't touch until you try it!
For this recipe you will need:
- 3 or am
- 3 ounces Asian yogurt drink like Yakult (which you can find at your local Asian store)
- 3 ounces lime-lime soda, such as Sprite
To prepare, place your soju yogurt drink in a shaker filled with ice and shake until completely chilled. Add the lemon soda and stir. Strain into a cocktail glass and enjoy!
Appletini de soju
This recipe adds a touch of soju to a traditional appletini. Replacing the vodka with soju makes the drink much lighter and less alcoholic, so you can drink even more!
For this recipe you will need:
- 2 ounces Soju (apple flavored if available)
- 2 ounces sparkling water
- 2 ounces apple juice
- Granny Smith apple to decorate
Combine your soju and apple juice in a shaker filled with ice. Shake until completely cool. Strain into a martini glass and top with sparkling water. Garnish with a Granny Smith slice and enjoy.
Ice Cucumber Soju
Cucumber and soju are a perfect match. The earthy soju perfectly complements the cucumber flavor, and because soju is so subtle, the flavors can really shine through. This cocktail is incredibly refreshing and perfect for summer!
To prepare this recipe you will need:
- 3 or am
- 2 ounces regular syrup
- 1 ounce. lemonade
- ½ cup cucumber
- ¼ cup fresh mint
- a splash of lemonade
To start making this cocktail, combine the cucumber and mint in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Strain the puree through a fine mesh strainer to remove any clumps and extract as much juice as possible.
In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, combine the soju, simple syrup, lime juice, and 2 tablespoons of the cucumber-mint puree. Shake until completely chilled and strain into a glass filled with fresh ice. Top up with some sparkling water, serve, and enjoy!
Soju is the world's best-selling spirit, but it's just beginning to gain popularity in the United States. It's light, versatile, and incredibly delicious. It's amazing in a variety of cocktails, chilled on the rocks or even drunk neat. There are so many great soju brands that if you want to try them all, you need to start now!
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