Monday, October 25, 2010

So What Cocktails

I wanted a special cocktail for our Korean feast a few weeks back, and my friend Virginia suggested using a distilled drink called soju.

I had never heard of this beverage and I imagined going to the local liquor store and having the following exchange.  (You should hear a Texas twang inside your head for this.)  Me: “Hi, I’m looking for a bottle of soju.  Do you have it?”  Liquor store clerk: “So what?”  Me: “Soooo jew.”  Liquor store clerk:  “Huh.  Never heard of it.”

Soju is a distilled beverage from Korea.  It is clear in color and tastes similar to vodka, but it is lower in alcohol content, usually 25 to 45% ABV.  Traditionally soju was made from rice, but you can now see it distilled from other grains and starches.  Even though it is commonly drunk neat in shot glasses, I wanted to mix it up a bit.

It just so happened that the very weekend I decided to create a soju cocktail we went to dinner with our friends Chris and Jennifer.  We learned that Chris has become something of a liquor connoisseur and because my husband and I enjoy drinking alcohol, thinking about alcohol, and talking about alcohol, the conversation quickly turned to Chris’s expanded focus on liquor. 

I asked Chris if he could recommend a liquor store that might have hard-to-find items.  Chris asks what in particular I’m seeking.  I don’t expect him to have heard of it, so I say I’m looking for an Asian distilled beverage called soju.  Just as I am about to launch into an explanation of what has been shared with me by Virginia, he says oh, I think I have three cases of that.  I’m pretty sure my mouth fell open at this point.  I can only hope I didn’t embarrass myself too badly.  Luckily, Jennifer has known me a long time and that certainly wouldn’t have been the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done in front of her.  Once, my jaw started working again, I asked him where he got it.  He offers instead to give me a few bottles.

Well, we’ve enjoyed experimenting with our bottles of soju.  Thanks, Chris!

Soju Gingertini
Makes 1

3 oz soju
1 1/2 oz ginger syrup
lemon peel

Put soju, ginger syrup, and ice in a cocktail shaker.  Shake until chilled.  Strain into glass and garnish with lemon twist.

To make the ginger syrup - Take a 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peel, and cut into big chunks.  Put it in a saucepan with 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water, stirring to combine.  Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat.  When mixture boils, reduce heat and simmer until sugar is completely dissolved and syrup is slightly thickened.  This took me about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat, discard ginger, and let cool.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Pom Soju Cooler
Makes 1 drink

2 oz soju
4 oz pomegranate juice
1/2 tsp honey
lemon slice for garnish

Pour soju and pomegranate juice over ice.  Stir in honey.  Garnish with lemon slice.

Gingerbread Soju

Makes 1 drink

1 1/2 oz soju
3 oz ginger syrup
cinnamon sugar
dash of allspice
cinnamon stick

Pour soju and ginger syrup in an ice-filled shaker.  Shake until chilled.  Strain and pour into a cinnamon sugar rimmed glass.  Add dash of allspice and garnish with cinnamon stick.


  1. Mmm...these look good! I was thinking of a Pear Gingertini...that would be a good one!

  2. are right, that does sound good!

  3. Ha. Your exchange with the liquor store clerk made me laugh!
    These all sound so interesting...especially the Pom Soju Cooler. Will have to see if I can get my hands on some Soju.