Shochu Cocktails: Start with Classic Cocktail Variations


Mutual Trading sponsored its 27th Annual Japanese Food & Restaurant Expo at the Pasadena Convention Center on Saturday, October 10th. Over 2,400 trade professional guests attended to see 130 exhibitors, with the liquor pavilion expanding to hold over 50 breweries. This year’s Expo reached the highest turnout and sales record. And among the numerous expo highlights, the Shochu cocktail workshop drew the attention of many attendees. (JUMP TO CLASSIC SHOCHU COCKTAIL RECIPES)

Expo-Shochu-Main-3Shochu has gained some recognition among American consumers but is still years away from becoming a permanent fixture to the American drinking scene, a far cry from Sake. To this day, Japanese consumers still dominate Shochu consumption. Traditionally, Shochu is served straight up, on the rocks, or with a bit of water to highlight the aroma and flavor of the base ingredient, however, these very unique aromas which are the prized character of each Shochu can be jarring to novice drinkers unfamiliar with Japanese spirits. Still, with a little simple twist, they can become a more approachable, first-step to Shochu drinking cocktails. And the key for busy restaurants is to create classic cocktails Americans already know and love, that are simple for serving staffers to mix and serve.

For the past few years, Mutual Trading Expo has featured Shochu cocktail workshops with American mixology experts sharing ideas to adapt Shochu for serving American guests dining at Japanese restaurants. The approach, rather than educating about the pure goodness of each Shochu, has been through Shochu based cocktails. Although not the norm at traditional restaurants in Japan, cocktails are common, during the social hour before a meal and all throughout.


"Great Shochu Cocktail Workshop" Demonstrated by Lisa Copenhaver, Beverage Director, Claremont Club, California

This year, Lisa Copenhaver, expert mixologist from the well-known Claremont Club in Claremont, California, shared easy to mix Shochu cocktails to suit various types of Japanese restaurants, and at a variety of occasions. Rather than creating entirely new and exotic drinks, her approach was to keep them simple for guests to approach: classic cocktail favorites that Americans were already familiar with, adding a simple twist, incorporating Shochu as the base alcohol.

Lisa’s selection of classic and popular cocktails were: Martini, Moscow Mule, French 75, Whisky Sour, and Old Fashion. She used different Shochu to replace gin for Martini, vodka for Moscow Mule, Gin and champagne for French 75, whisky for Whisky Sour and Old Fashioned.



Old-Fashionedfor the classic Old Fashion: Old Fashioned Samurai
with Towari Buckwheat Shochu

1 ¾ shot Towari Buckwheat Shochu
4 dashes bitters
1 shot simple syrup
orange rind or orange slice
maraschino cherry (optional)

1. Stir all liquid ingredients in mixing glass or shaker, filled with ice.
2. Gently strain in into rocks glass filled with large ice cubes.
3. Garnish with orange rind or orange slice, and cherry.


Shiranami-Tokyo-Mulefor the classic Moscow Mule: Tokyo Mule
with Shiranami Sweet Potato Shochu

1 oz Shiranami Shochu
3-4 oz ginger beer
½ lime, cut up
lime wheel garnish

1. In a copper mug, or bucket (10oz old fashioned glass), fill with ice.
2. Add Shiranami Sweet Potato Shochu, fill with ginger beer, and squeeze lime juice.
3. Garnish with lime wheel.


Japonais-75for the classic French 75: Japonais 75
with iichiko Barley Shochu

1 ¾ shot iichiko Barley Shochu
.75 shot simple syrup
ginger ale
lemon twist

1. In a shaker with ice, add Iichiko Barley Shochu, and simple syrup.
2. Shake it hard, pour in champagne flute and fill with ginger ale.
3. Garnish with lemon Twist.


Mt.-Fujifor the classic Martini: Mt. Fuji
with Shiro Rice Shochu

1 ¾ shot Shiro Shochu
.75 shot simple syrup
juice from ½ of a lemon
2 fresh basil leaves
splash of POM juice
1 slice Fuji apple

1.In a shaker with a little ice, add Shiro, simple syrup, lemon juice, and basil leaves.
2. Muddle them together, add more ice, and shake vigorously.
3. Strain and pour into a high ball glass filled with ice.
4. Add a splash of POM pomegranate juice.
5. Garnish with a basil leaf and Fuji apple slice.


Koku-Sourfor the classic Whiskey Sour: Koku Sour
with Jougo Sugar Cane Shochu

1 ¾ shot Jougo Shochu
1 shot simple syrup
juice from ¾ of a lemon
1 cherry and lemon or lime wedge for garnish

1. Pour all liquid ingredients in a shaker filled with ice.
2. Shake it hard!
3. Pour over ice filled rock glass or bucket.
4. Add garnish.

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