What is Soju ?

Soju Drinks and Cocktails

Soju is a clear, distilled alcoholic beverage manufactured in Korea. Soju has been around for many centuries and remains one of the most popular Asian alcohols, especially in South Korea.

History of Soju

Researchers estimate that Korean soju went through its first distillation in 1300 A.D. Historians believe that the Koreans may have learned the method of soju distillation from the Mongols during the Mongol War. The Mongols, in turn, had acquired their knowledge of how to make soju from the Persians.

After the Koreans learned this technique, distilleries were built around the town of Kaesong, and soju production began in earnest.

During the Meiji period, a rice shortage caused the government to issue direct orders to reduce rice use in soju. This forced distributors to use pure ethanol. It was added to the mixture to create a diluted form of soju. Despite the current availability of rice, some makers continue this ethanol process.

Old methods of soju distillation still remain in certain parts of Korea, where distributors pride themselves on making the original Korean soju drink.

Soju Ingredients

Korean soju is generally created from rice. However, during these modern times, manufacturers in South Korea are replacing the rice with a creative medley of ingredients, including:

* barley
* dangmil
* potato
* sweet potato
* wheat.

When you buy sojo, you’ll notice that the liquid is clear in color. Its alcohol by volume (ABV) varies from 20 to 40 percent.

Korean soju is often compared to vodka; however, it has a sweeter taste because of the added sugar. Worldwide, soju outsells vodka by many units.

Soju Etiquette

As with other Asian liquors, drinking soju follows a distinct etiquette. It is normally served in a shot glass. If you are in the company of people who follow this tradition, keep these rules in mind:

* Drink soju by sipping it or taking it as a shot; both forms are appropriate according to soju etiquette.

* Hold your glass with both hands if a respected person is pouring the liquor.

* Never pour your own glass of soju.

* Refill a glass with soju only when it is empty.

* Soju is consumed in group gatherings.

* When pouring soju for others, hold the soju bottle with the right hand. Keep your left hand touching your elbow or forearm.

* When receiving soju from others, place the shot glass in your left palm, hold it with your right hand and slightly bow your head.

* Younger adults at the table turn away and sip their soju if elders are present.

Soju Drinks and Soju Cocktails

Many people often wonder where they can buy soju. In Korea, of course, it is accessible everywhere. In the United States and other large countries, you can buy soju in stores that sell a wide selection of imported liquors. If a store does not have it in stock, many can place a special order for you.

Soju mixed with beer is very popular both in Korea and around the world. There are two ways to do this:

1. Poktanju, otherwise known as “bomb drink,” is a soju shot glass tossed in a pint of beer.

2. Suso poktanju, the “hydrogen bomb,” involves pouring a shot glass of draft beer into a pint of soju.

For people who think that soju is too strong straight up, here are some great, easy, tasty soju cocktails you can try.

Fallen Angel

* 45 ml soju
* 15 ml green crème de menthe
* 30 ml lemon juice
* a dash of angostura blitters
* maraschino cherry.


Shake ingredients together and strain over ice.
Soju Wallbanger

* 30 ml soju
* 30 ml Galliano
* a dash of orange juice
* orange twist.


1. Shake the soju and Galliano together and strain over ice.
2. Add orange juice to desired taste.
3. Garnish with an orange twist.

There are many ways to enjoy Korean soju. Soju continues to delight drink enthusiasts all around the world.

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