While you might think of sake as Japan’s most iconic alcoholic beverage, the title of most consumed boozy drink actually goes to shochu. Shochu is a distilled alcohol similar to vodka but with a sweet hint and a weaker alcohol content, typically around 25% ABV but occasionally as high as 35% or more.
There’s many different ingredients that can be distilled into shochu; the most common are rice, buckwheat, sweet potatoes, or barley. There are two types of shochu: honkaku and korui. The differences in these stem from their production process — honkaku is distilled only once, while korui is distilled multiple times. Because of this, honkaku has more flavor and is generally considered more “authentic,” while korui has much less flavor so is better suited for mixing and cocktails. Traditionally, shochu is mixed with either hot or cold water, but it can also be drunk straight or on the rocks — preferably this will be with honkaku — or in the case of korui, mixed with juice, tea, or other cocktail ingredients.
You can find shochu along with other liquors, wines, and beers, in any Uwajimaya’s alcoholic beverages section. Oregon doesn’t allow liquor to be sold in grocery stores so you won’t find this at our Beaverton location.