Shochu Cocktails: How to enjoy Juroku Cha with shochu

How to enjoy Juroku Cha with shochu

What is shochu?

When people think of Japan’s traditional alcohol, sake aka rice wine usually comes to mind. But even more popular in the island nation is the low-proof distilled spirit, shochu. Although both sake and shochu are fermented from the mold koji, shochu can be made from a diverse range of base ingredients, including sweet potato, barley, rice, buckwheat, and even sesame. This base ingredient is what makes each shochu variety distinct and gives it a unique character.

How is shochu enjoyed?

Although shochu can be drank straight or simply poured over ice, shochu is often enjoyed as a cocktail mixed with water, soda, and even tea. Hands down, our preference here at Juroku Cha is tea! Tea not only softens the alcohol content but it can enhance the natural flavor and aroma of shochu.

Mixing shochu with Juroku Cha

Shochu cocktail ―How to enjoy Juroku Cha with shochu

Which shochu is right for you? Read on to find your perfect match to blend with Juroku Cha. 

Sweet potato shochu (imo shochu)

Sweet potato shochu is unarguably the most popular variety of shochu in Japan. Production originated in the Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures as early as 1705, and to this day the region prides itself on its signature drink. It has the richest flavor of all shochus, and its fruity aroma coupled with robust earthiness makes it an ideal accompaniment for meat, cheese, and heavy foods. This strong flavor also makes it suitable for mixing with Juroku Cha as a shochu cocktail, especially if you want a milder taste without losing sweet potato shochu’s punch and personality.

Barley shochu (mugi shochu)

Crisp and clean compared to sweet potato shochu, barley shochu has a weightless quality that also makes it a great palate cleanser. Easy to drink, it pairs well with light dishes like grilled fish, caviar, and sushi. It’s no mystery that barley shochu blends effortlessly with Juroku Cha, since Juroku Cha contains three types of barley that lend the shochu a toasted aroma. For the real deal, look for barley shochu made in Oita, Miyazaki and Nagasaki prefectures.

Rice shochu (kome shochu)

Well-known for its production in the Kumamoto Prefecture, rice shochu carries a delicate and smooth flavor reminiscent of its rice-based cousin, Japanese sake. Mellow compared to sweet potato but thicker than barley varieties, it pairs well with traditional Japanese cuisine, including tofu, sashimi, and rice-based dishes. Like barley shochu, rice shochu shares its main ingredient with Juroku Cha’s brown rice, malted brown rice, and black rice ingredients, making the tea and shochu complement each other harmoniously.

Other varieties

Equally worthy mentions are the subtle and sweet brown sugar shochu (kokuto shochu), nutty and bold sesame seed shochu (goma shochu), toasty and crisp buckwheat shochu (soba shochu), and refreshing shiso herb shochu. We encourage the advanced shochu connoisseur to give these a try!

Ready to pair your Juroku Cha with food, too?  Stay tuned for our upcoming post on festival food pairings.

Can’t wait to try Juroku Cha? You can find it on Amazon.