soju bottles lined up on liquor shelf

How to Drink Soju

Soju is a clear, distilled spirit that’s considered Korea’s national drink due to its incredible popularity in its country of origin. Soju is typically consumed in shots alongside Korean barbeque or mixed into beer to create a fun drink called Somaek. The word Somaek a portmanteau of the word ‘soju’ and the Korean word for beer, ‘maekju.’

Newcomers to the wide world of soju often wonder what the best way to drink this spirit is – we can tell you that soju tastes best chilled and served in the company of friends and food. Our article gives you more details on exactly how to drink and serve soju to get the best out of this lively liquor.

What Is Soju?

While many individuals often compare soju to rice wine, it’s actually more closely related to vodka in appearance and taste. This spirit is clear and traditionally made with rice, which lends itself to a slightly sweeter flavor than vodka, though other grains are also often used to produce soju such as cassava and potatoes.

Soju has been around since the 13th century. While the more neutral traditional flavor of this liquor is often consumed, many other flavors of soju are becoming increasingly popular both inside and outside of Korea.

Fruit flavors are the most commonly seen choices for soju. Depending on your location around Korea or in the United States, you might be able to find pineapple, grapefruit, lychee, peach, apple, and grape soju.

Soju is perceived within Korea as a go-to drink for most occasions. A night out with friends, an evening in a nightclub, a dinner with family, or a business dinner are all likely to feature bottles of soju. Soju is a beloved classic liquor and many individuals inside and outside of Korea spend their time bonding over shots of this spirit.

What Is the Alcohol Content of Soju?

Soju may have an alcohol content that ranges from 12.9 to around 53 percent alcohol by volume (ABV).

While higher ABVs of soju are available around Korea and the United States, lower alcoholic content soju with an ABV under 20 percent is becoming an increasingly popular choice. This is because of its smoother taste and the presence of fruit flavors that many of these lower alcohol choices contain.

How to Serve Soju?

Soju is a spirit that is best served chilled, and the traditional way to drink this liquor is neat. To serve soju, you will need to refrigerate your bottles well ahead of time to ensure that they have a chance to become cold. You will also need to obtain soju glasses, which hold between two and three ounces of liquor, as opposed to a typical shot glass that only holds 1.5 ounces.

The preparation of soju is simple – pour your chosen chilled soju into your soju glass.

In Korea, there are customs that are followed when pouring and consuming soju. Typically, the youngest person will pour drinks for their elders. Both hands should be used to pour and both hands should receive a glass of soju given; it is considered impolite to pour yourself a drink of soju when out drinking with others.

In the United States, it’s generally not necessary to follow Korean culture when drinking soju, especially if you aren’t Korean yourself. However, you can ask those you go out with when drinking soju about their culture if they’re Korean and how they’d prefer to follow certain drinking customs during your time sharing soju together.

What Is a Serving Size of Soju?

The standard serving size of soju is around two to three ounces. One soju glass’s worth of soju is the standard serving size, and you can expect most bottles of soju to have around four soju servings in them.

Can You Drink Soju Straight?

Soju is traditionally consumed straight, as a shot. Some individuals may choose to sip on their soju from their soju glass throughout a meal. If you are out drinking with friends, it’s probably more likely that you will be drinking straight chilled soju from a shot glass throughout your time together.

What Are the Best Mixers for Soju?

Soju is not typically a liquid that mixes well with alcoholic mixers – it’s commonly consumed straight, chilled, and neat.

Recently, however, soju cocktails have risen in popularity. They mix flavored or traditional soju with liquids like cranberry juice, triple sec, lime juice, and other fruit flavors to create refreshing and lower alcohol content cocktails.

What Other Liquors Go Well With Soju?

The most common drink that goes well with soju isn’t a liquor, but a beer. In Korea, lager-style beers are commonly consumed alongside soju, and a shot of soju will often be mixed into beer to create a mixed drink referred to as “somaek.’ On the other hand, if you want to try a different Japanese liquor, sake is a great option that's a bit smoother.

What Are the Best Soju Recipes?

While soju is typically consumed straight, there are a few cocktail recipes that have started to incorporate soju as the main liquor. Most of these recipes are fairly simple. For instance, you may create a yogurt soju cocktail with a shot of soju, a drinkable yogurt (the most popular brand to use is Yakult), and lemon-lime soda.

Soju may also be used in place of vodka in recipes such as the cosmopolitan to create a soju cosmopolitan. This spirit is also often blended with frozen fruit to create a soju slushy, a very popular drink in summertime.

How to Prevent a Soju Hangover?

Like with most liquors you drink straight, it’s important to know your limits and hydrate adequately while drinking. Prevent a soju hangover by drinking a glass of water after every soju serving you consume.

Be careful when it comes to fruit-flavored and lower alcoholic content soju, because these varieties are very smooth and easy to drink, and the alcoholic effects might catch you off guard.

Sipping the Night Away With Soju

soju being poured in shot glass with plant background

Soju is Korea’s most popular drink, and this spirit is quickly taking the rest of the world by storm. Soju is best consumed straight, chilled, and served alongside Korean food for the best experience. Sip the night away with soju and spend time bonding with your friends or family to get the full experience of this unique liquor.

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