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Japanese Shochu Meets Top Mixologists in NY and LA

JFOODO, The Japan Food Product Overseas Promotion Center, has the goal of boosting the export of Japanese agricultural, forestry, fishery, and food products overseas. Throughout the year, events are organized focusing on specific products, and from February 3 – March 6, the focus is on the little-known Japanese spirit Shochu. This year, famous mixologists between New York City and Los Angeles have developed original Shochu cocktails to enlighten the public about the pure and expressive spirit. Shochu is a distilled beverage typically made from rice, barley, sweet potatoes, buckwheat, or brown sugar, and has a flavor often described as nutty or earthy. Each Shochu has a distinct flavor based on the base component and is about 25% alcohol. Shochu has clean, aromatic characteristics that may be faintly reminiscent of sake, due to the fact that both Shochu and sake typically begin with the use of koji, a microbe that converts the starches of rice into sugars. However, that is where the comparison ends. Shochu is a versatile spirit that can be enjoyed on the rocks or mixed with other ingredients, bringing out the umami of the brand of Shochu being used.

For the campaign, eight high-end bars have been experimenting with adding the pure and expressive spirit to their drink menus. These famed connoisseurs of spirits will showcase Shochu in a custom-made cocktail created specifically for this campaign, which will be available to the public throughout the dates of the promotion at each individual venue, and a selection of cocktails will be available at Shochu Pop-up bar Gongo, 15 St. Mark’s Place, through February 13. Visit our collaborative bars and enjoy Shochu cocktails!

– New York –
Angel’s Share (Atsushi Nakayama, Tsunetaka Imada):
Verre de vin, made with Aka-Kirishima (Kirishima Shuzo). Mixed with blueberry juice, maple syrup, yuzu, yogurt and green tea leaves. A recreation of a glass of red wine using Shochu.

Bar Moga (John Anthony Ober):
Norwegian Wood, made with Mugi Hokka Roaster Barley Shochu (Honkaku Spirits). The toasty aroma of barley hocks and chocolate go well together, perfect bitter hot chocolate for adults.

Martiny’s (Takuma Watanabe):
Guardian Deity, made with Iichiko Saiten (Sanwa Shurui) and yuzu jam for a sweet citrus taste.

Oldies (John Carlson):
OKINAWA GOLD, made with Nankai Gold Shochu (Machida Shuzo), blended with dried mango, and spun in a centrifuge to clarify it and add some fruitiness and sweetness from the mangoes. Yuzushu and lime juice add sweetness, complexity, and acidity to balance the drink.

Thyme Bar (Jeremy LeBlanche):
Yushoku Mae, made with Kuro-Kirishima (Kirishima Shuzo). This aperitif is slightly spiced from Kummel (a sweet liqueur flavored with caraway seeds, cumin, and fennel) with a nice floral profile from Shochu.

– Los Angeles –
Shibumi (Chris Gomez):
Hojichawari, made with Sakura Shiranami (Satsuma Shuzo). This winter drink combines oyuwari (Shochu mixed with hot water, and the richness of hojicha (green tea). To top it off, a dollop of whipped cream is added as a nod to grand Viennese tradition.

Thunderbolt (Tom G. Liu ):
Shachō Sipper, made with Hakutake Shiro (Takahashi Shuzo). The Shachō (president in Japanese) Sipper keeps a soft and velvety mouthfeel with support from the blanc vermouth while subtle hints of banana and orange give it some levity without distraction.

V DTLA (Clayton Favela & Danny Cruz ):
YuYu Mizu, made with MIZU (Ryukyu 1429). Liquid alchemist ginger syrup, lemon juice, and basil leaves were shaken with Shochu and served on the rocks garnished with fresh basil leaves.

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