Shochu Turning Up in Cocktails All Over the City; We Found Our Favorite


Shōchū is a popular Japanese liquor distilled from rice and other grains. It’s very similar to the Korean drink soju — the two are often used interchangeably. Both have become increasingly popular, especially in San Francisco. Many bars and restaurants with only beer and wine licenses have been stocking sake and soju, and crafting complex cocktails such as the soju mojito we tried at Limón last week.

At a recent party at New People in Japantown the other night, we got to try Haamonii Smooth, an ultra-premium shōchū imported from Japan by a husband-and-wife team based in San Francisco. Haamonii has been around for a while, but when we tasted it the other night we were pretty impressed. It comes in two varieties. Unflavored Haamonii Smooth shōchū is very crisp and clean, with no abrasiveness. It has a very clean aroma and feels light on the palate, very nice when sipped on the rocks. Haamonii Smooth Lemon shōchū is just as clean, but with a subtle hint of lemon. It mixed very well with grapefruit juice and oolong tea.
Both are 44 proof — stronger than sake but with less of a wallop than vodka. We think that makes it a good base for cocktails: it’s odorless and tasteless, so it takes on the flavors of whatever it’s mixed with, but the lower alcohol content makes it seem less harsh than vodka.
You can check it out at D&M Wine and Fine Spirits (2200 Fillmore at Sacramento) or Cask (17 Third St. at Market). It’s also used at 5A5 Steak Lounge (244 Jackson at Battery) and Infusion Lounge (124 Ellis at Powell), among others places. For a full list of local bars where you can taste it, go to Haamonii Smooth’s website.

Original SFoodie article: ‘Shochu Turning Up in Cocktails All Over the City; We Found Our Favorite’


One Response to “Shochu Turning Up in Cocktails All Over the City; We Found Our Favorite”

  1. 1 Mich

    Gene makes amazing Shochu drinks! Pear & Guava!

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