Like sake, shochu is an alcoholic beverage indigenous to Japan. Unlike sake, which is brewed from fermented rice, shochu is a distilled beverage–a hard liquor typically made from barley, sweet potatoes, buckwheat or rice. And it’s becoming quite popular in cocktails.
Brushstroke, a kaiseki (multicourse) Japanese restaurant in New York offers several cocktails containing shochu. One standard is the Ginger ($13), which contains hakutake rice shochu, house-made ginger ale and lime. Others are riffs on classic cocktails, served mostly by request.
Tokya nightclub and sushi lounge in New York also carries a few shochu cocktails. “My idea was to take some traditional American cocktails and replace the spirits in them,” says master mixologist Orson Salicetti.
The Negroni is one of the most popular, he says, and contains shochu (50%), Campari and sweet vermouth (20% each), Citron Sauvage and Ramazzotti Amaro (10%).
Another favorite is the Toyka gimlet, which contains shochu, yuzu juice, agave nectar and shiso leaf (Japanese mint), and is garnished with star anise and shiso leaf and flambéed. The shochu drinks are priced at $17 each.
For more on Japanese beverage, see The Sake Scene.