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The Shochu Cocktail Experience

March 18, 2022

Story: Punch Staff

photo: Daniel Schwartz

Japan’s native distilled spirit is finding its way into bars across the United States. Here’s everything you need to know to try it yourself.

To celebrate shochu, Japan’s native distilled spirit, several of the greatest shochu-producing regions in Japan—the Kagoshima, Miyazaki, Kumamoto and Oita prefectures—partnered with a number of top American bars to create a week dedicated to drinks built around shochu and its unique qualities.

For over 500 years, the production of shochu has remained Japan’s best-kept secret. The koji-fermented spirit can be made from over 50 different ingredients, most commonly rice, barley, sweet potatoes, brown sugar, and buckwheat, and results in a finished spirit with a lower ABV and no added sugar. The delicate flavors of shochu find themselves perfectly suited for mixing in the canon of thoughtful modern cocktails.

To explore the world of shochu cocktails, 10 bartenders from across the country present three different shochu cocktails from different regions- Chris Bostick (Half Step, TX), Kevin Diedrich (Kona’s Street Market, SF), Brian Evans (Rule of Thirds, NY), Kenta Goto (Bar Goto, NY), Caer Maiko (Daijoubu at Drink.Well, TX), Julia Momosé (Bar Kumiko, IL), Nikola Nikoletić (Patent Pending, NY), Ryan Chetiyawardana (Silver Lyan, DC), Aaron Plein (PABU, SF), and Takuma Watanabe (Martiny’s, NY)—created original recipes featuring the versatile spirit, each reflecting their individual creative approaches. The drinks were available at their bars for the duration of Shochu Week (March 1-31).

Take a tour of the highlights from this year’s celebration of all things Shochu.

Find a bar

Learn more about Shochu Week

To celebrate this original craft spirit, the Kagoshima, Miyazaki, Oita, and Kumamoto Prefecture have partnered with some of the best bars across the country, and avid shochu admirers to offer 30 signature cocktails on offer for a limited time.

Aiden Bowie Shochu Week

Aidan Bowie on Capturing Shochu’s “Pure Flavor”

The Kagoshima, Miyazaki, Kumamoto and Oita prefectures challenged bartenders across the country to reimagine the shochu cocktail. Here's a look at Aidan Bowie's winning recipe, the Red Clay Bamboo.

Shochu Week Cocktail Roundup

Meet the Modern Shochu Cocktail

Ten signature shochu cocktails from the country's top bartenders that demonstrate the nuance and versatility of this Japanese spirit.

Kagoshima Shochu Cocktails

Want to Understand Shochu? It Starts with Kagoshima.

The birthplace of shochu is famed for its ancestral expressions of the spirit—imo and kokuto—made exclusively from sweet potato and brown sugar. Here’s how to use them in cocktails.

JSS Feature Shochu Cocktails

Japanese Shochu Is Coming for Your Cocktail

The versatile spirit is at home in just about any format. Three bartenders share their recipes for a shochu-laced Espresso Martini, a frothy fizz and a tea-topped highball.

Tagged: shochu, shochu week