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Spark Your Senses During Shochu Month in Los Angeles

January 17, 2024 by Sponsored Post
The Tsukemono-tini made with Nankai Shochu at Employees Only LA

From January 18 through February 17, Japan’s most popular spirit takes over Los Angeles with a series of social events and specialty cocktails, all hosted at some of the city’s finest bars, lounges, and speakeasies. They’re calling it “Shochu Month” and it sounds like the perfect chance to spark your senses and try something new, all while experiencing an esteemed roster of L.A. watering holes that includes Accomplice Bar, Death & Co. LA, Employees Only LA, Gold Line, Redbird, Steep LA, The Lincoln, The Semi-Tropic, and Thunderbolt. In short, it’s going to be a good time, and you won’t want to miss it.

Okay, okay… back up though. The totally uninitiated are probably asking… what is Shochu? Well it’s not Sake. And it’s not exactly analogous to other liquors most commonly consumed in America. But it is a distinct spirit with fascinating flavors and a unique story stretching back hundreds of years.

That history extends more than five centuries, beginning in Southern Japan where it was first distilled using rice. Today, no spirit in Japan is consumed more often than Shochu (yes even more than Sake!), and in addition to rice you’ll find variations made with barley, sweet potatoes, buckwheat, and brown sugar, or occasionally chestnut, sesame seeds, potatoes, or even carrots.

Redbird’s Bankan Highball is made with Daiyame 40, a sweet potato-based Shochu that contains notes of lychee.

Unlike many grain-based liquors that focus on achieving a neutral profile, Shochu allows flavor from the base ingredient to pass through the distillation process. This creates a wide range of variations in flavor, from the rich and nutty versions to others more light and aromatic. It’s also strong, but not too strong.

The alcohol content by volume is generally around 25-30%, which is more than a wine or Sake, but typically less than baijiu, whiskey, or vodka. The moderate ABV paired with the sheer variety of flavors make Shochu an ideal star in many cocktail variations, perhaps no other more so than the classic Japanese Highball. And if a Highball is your go-to, you’re going to love Shochu Month.

Over the next four weeks, nine select bars will offer their own take on a Shochu Highball, along with a distinctive signature Shochu cocktail developed in-house. You could stop by Accomplice Bar to sip on a Kiku Shochu Highball made with sweet floral chrysanthemum and earthy oolong, or swing over to Redbird to try the Golden Gai, a Martini-inspired cocktail made with Satsuma Shiranami Genshu. And along with the menu add-ons, you’ll also find special live programming.

Thunderbolt’s head bartender Tom Liu created the Goma Martini for Shochu Month

Events throughout the city will allow guests to immerse themselves in Japanese cocktail culture. Revered Tokyo mixologist Shuzo Nagumo will appear at an opening “Shochu Night” pop-up event at Death & Co LA on Jan. 18, where guests can enjoy two Shochu drinks for $25. As the week unfolds, Shuzo will visit each participating so you can try his special cocktail at all your favorite spots (details to be announced on the @shochu_japan Instagram).

On Feb. 6, a second “Shochu Night” event will be held at Redbird, featuring special guest Takuma Watanabe (head bartender at NYC’s Martiny’s and one of the founding members of Bar codename Mixology).

There’s a lot going on, so be sure to check out the full list of bars and special offerings below.

And for more information about Shochu you can visit https://japan-food.jetro.go.jp/shochu .

Participant Bars & Special Offerings

Accomplice Bar: Kiku Shochu Highball and the Bakappuru

Death & Co LA: Dovetail Shochu Highball and the Oxya Old Fashioned

Employees Only LA: Cha Shochu Highball and the Tsukemono-tini.

Goldline: Kuro Kirishima Shochu Highball and the One of those

Redbird LA: Bankan Shochu Highball and the Golden Gai.

Steep LA: Steep Oolong Shochu Highball and the Sunbird.

The Lincoln: Honey Crush Highball and the Tokyo Hi-Fi.

The Semi Tropic: Oolong Shochu Highball and the Lullaby.

Thunderbolt: Tougan Shochu Highball and the Goma Martini.


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