To kick off the New Year, we had an event on Zoom in which we talked about these shochus, learned to make some groovy cocktails, and said "kanpai" once or twice. Watch the video on our Youtube Channel!
We’ve done it. We’ve nearly made it through this shitstorm of a year. Covid, shutdowns, wildfires, the presidential elections. And still, it ain’t over till it’s over. I’ve put together two dynamic shochus that are going to help us weather the storm till 2021. We’re so close. We’re going to make it.
Why don’t we make the current directive of, “Stay home for the holidays,” to: “Stay home for the holidays with shochu!” I’ve created two very easy cocktail recipes to dazzle your holiday guests (your partner who you miraculously made it through the year with (or not!), and the new puppy or kitty you decided to adopt while you sheltered in place).
I turned 40 this year, and while I can’t say I’m wiser, this year has taught me the virtues of versatility and flexibility. Impossible to plan ahead, we’ve been forced to take things one day at a time, and just slow down in general. I like to think that shochu carries all of these traits – flexibility, versatility, and encourages slowness. The versatility of shochu is its hallmark trait. Drink it straight, with water, with a mixer, whatever you fancy. It’s flexible, just like we’ve been forced to be this year. And the rewards of the drink is when you slow down with it. Pick up the subtle nuances and complexities. It’s a special drink because its only been distilled once by skilled craftsmen, with high-quality ingredients, and fresh local water. Certainly, the bottles from this quarter demonstrate these virtues.
Thank you all for being a part of Shochu Gumi in 2020. Umami Mart was able to weather the Covid storm thanks to your loyal membership. See you on the flip side!
Kougin no Sasayaki Shochu
Bungyo Meijyo (Oita, Kyushu)
Distilled from 100% barley
Using local Nishiboshi barley from Naokawa Village that is polished down to 50%, Kougin no Sasayaki is a unique shochu with a nutty, spicy bouquet. Made in the ginzukuri method, meaning slow fermentation at a low temperature for a longer period. Get notes of cocoa nibs and vanilla, as well as earthy, savory undertones with a long finish. This is delicious oyuwari-style (with hot water) alongside chicken tsukune nabe with Yoko’s Garlicky Gomadare.
I love any Martini variation, and this one is dedicated to the original James Bond. He would have had this drink in the modern day rendition of You Only Live Twice! The Kougin is quite subtle so you don’t want to overstir it – 10 seconds, not a moment longer!
2oz Kougin no Sasayaki Shochu
0.5oz Dolin Dry vermouth
Stir 10 seconds, strain into a glass
Express lemon oil from peel
Akarui Nouson Shochu
Kirishimacho Joryusho (Kagoshima, Kyushu)
Distilled from 83% Koganesengan sweet potato, 17% rice
I first had this at Ippuku in Berkeley, so imagine that you’re at a rowdy izakaya having grilled meats with 10 of your friends or colleagues. The fruity nose reminds of fermented pineapples and tropical fruit. It’s bright and funky and great mixed with soda and a spritz of lime. Food pairings run the gamut, from fries to kimchi and pickles, to tonkatsu.
Bright Rusty Nail
The Rusty Nail is a severely underrated cocktail and perfect for the holidays with the honey and spice from the Drambuie. Pretend you’re in New Orleans and put it in a go-cup!
2oz Akarui Nouson Shochu
Add ingredients into rocks glass, add ice. Stir.