Happy Hour

Happy Hour: 10.11.17

At the end of the semester in my first year of grad school, a group of students invited me to get Korean barbecue with them. That’s when I was introduced to soju, a clear, distilled beverage of Korean origin. I had no idea what soju was or how to drink it, but the night was one of the best times I’ve ever had with friends. My glass always was immediately refilled by someone else, which I learned is part of the etiquette when drinking soju. You never pour your own glass, and if it’s empty, you’re implying you want more.

Soju is normally lower in alcohol than other spirits, and it’s odorless and colorless. While you might compare it with sake from Japan, soju is very different. Sake is brewed, soju is distilled. It was originally made with rice until the country’s rice shortage in the ‘60s, when distillers started using ingredients like wheat, potatoes, barley and tapioca. It has a subtle sweet flavor on its own, and usually is paired with food if sipped neat. Enjoy one of my suggested sojus below with Kalbi for your own memorable meal!

soju brands
andong | A more expensive soju, it has a higher alcohol content than other brands. Sip neat with various Korean foods.
chum churum | Great mixed with light beer or in a fruit-inspired cocktail
chamisul by hite jinro | This sujo is the most popular of the three. Great to sip with Korean barbecue

Justin Wolf is an assistant restaurant manager at the Four Seasons Hotel-St. Louis.