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In an effort to reduce your alcohol consumption in 2019 and drink more responsibly, why not try Soju?

There’s a lot to love about this Korean spirit that trashes the rest of its competition (in 2016 alone, Jinro sold 75.91 million 9-litre cases of its green bottle soju, making it the most-sold spirit on the planet). It’s smooth and easy to drink, a team player in cocktails that’s a thousand times less basic than vodka.

Basically, it is made from any grains, like vodka: traditionally rice, but you can make it with wheat, barley, rye, and even sweet potato. It’s less potent than the Russian stuff, too. Soju is usually about 18-25% ABV (alcohol by volume) compared to vodka’s 40%, or the 25-45% of shōchū, the similarly named Japanese grain spirit. That lower ABV means it’s not going to blow out your palate (or your wits), making soju a solid pick to pair with food. Think of it as your new dinner party go-to.

Soju is magic that way, a no-brainer to stock in your fridge at home. As the soju market continues to flourish, artisanal options are increasingly available from Korea, and beyond. If you’re not already shooting or sipping soju, now’s the time to join the world and start, whether you go for the fruity and floral or bone dry.

Know What You’re Drinking

There are really two different categories of soju. First is the iconic lower ABV soju (between 17 – 23%) that can be found at every restaurant, supermarket, and corner store. This is the sort of stuff you drink on any occasion. The second is a more quality, hand-crafted soju that is often made in smaller batches and has a much higher ABV.

While soju has less alcohol in it than most liquors, it’s still potent. Whereas Sake is brewed like a beer, Soju is distilled like vodka. This means it is much more powerful.

How To Stock Your Home Bar

There’s a soju flavour profile for everyone; stock your bar according to what fits your palate and your drinking style. A solid start is Hwayo – a more high-end soju that is clean and crisp on the palate, traditionally more how Soju was back in the day. It’s very smooth, savoury, and finishes with delightful warmness – with tonic water and a slice of lime, it’s perfect.

We also recommend the single distilled Dae Jang Bu – a more full-bodied with a rounder flavour, accompanied with a subtle umami finish. For a good cocktail-mixing soju, try Jinro 24 (24% ABV), a delicate balance between a clean and smooth finish, it’s the best choice for Soju cocktails.

Now Make This Drink

Seoul-Side Cocktail

1 1/2 oz soju
1/2 oz East India Solera sherry
1/2 oz simple syrup
1 oz lime juice
3 mint leaves

Combine all ingredients together in a shaker. Add ice and shake hard for 15 seconds. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a mint leaf.