We love chuhais, the ubiquitous, thirst quenching drink served at any watering hole or found in a can at any conbini (convenience store) in Japan. The word chuhai is a combination of shochu-highball – get it? They have yet to get their day in the limelight here in the States, but Shinichi Washino (aka Washi), co-owner and bartender of Oakland's Soba Ichi, is trying to change all of that.
In this month's San Francisco Magazine, he declares that he is the "Chuhai King" and that he, "makes the best chuhai in America." We can't argue with him – he takes a lot of time and care into making every chuhai that is ordered at his restaurant and it is damn satisfying.
Washi kindly gave us his recipes for America's Best Chuhai, as well as the Shochu Soda that is also on the drinks menu at Soba Ichi. Kanpai!
America's Best Chuhai
2 oz Takara shochu or multiple distilled shochu (shochu korui)
Bottle of Q Soda or Fever Tree Club Soda
Slice of lemon for garnish
1. Add ice to glass. Stir until glass cools (a few seconds). Make sure to stir around the rim of the glass.
2. Cut water with Julep strainer.
3. Add shochu into the glass and stir a few times to cool down the shochu.
4. Squeeze half a lemon into glass.
5. Add soda to the top of the glass.
6. Stir a few times (you want to keep the soda fresh and fizzy so don't overstir).
7. Add a slice of lemon to the glass.
And now onto "Washi's Shochu Soda" that uses honkaku (single-distilled) shochu versus the korui (multiple-distilled) shochu for the chuhai above.
Washi's Shochu Soda
1. Add ice to the top of the glass. Stir until glass cools, for a few seconds. Make sure to stir around the rim of the glass.
2. Cut water with Julep strainer
3. Add shochu into the glass. Stir shochu with ice to cool down the shochu.
4. Add soda to the top of the glass
5. Stir once (this is enough as you don't want the bubbles to disappear).
うまい！Umai! So good!