From January 18 to February 17, 2024, Los Angeles is set to celebrate Shochu Month, an event dedicated to Japan’s traditional spirit, Shochu. The theme, “Spark Your Senses,” encapsulates the aromatic and flavorful nature of this spirit. Nine of the top bars in Los Angeles are participating in this event, offering original cocktails made from Shochu.
This initiative is not just a celebration of a drink but a cultural exchange that deepens the understanding of Japanese culinary arts in the West.
The Essence of Shochu
Shochu, a distinct spirit from Japan, is known for its clean, pure, and expressive character. It’s traditionally made from ingredients such as sweet potatoes, barley, rice, or black sugar. Each type of Shochu offers a unique flavor profile, typically described as nutty or earthy, with an alcohol by volume (ABV) of around 25%. Understanding the properties of each base ingredient enhances the enjoyment of this versatile spirit.
Signature Cocktails and Events
Several bars have collaborated with Nankai Shochu, creating unique cocktails for this occasion. Highlights include:
- Accomplice Bar: The Kiku Highball, combining Nankai Gold, chrysanthemum oolong tea, calvados, sherry, and clarified apple.
- Employees Only: The Tsukemono-tini, a blend of Nankai Shochu, gin, olive brine, and onion brine.
- The Lincoln: Tokyo Hi-Fi, featuring Nankai Gold, lemon, egg white, passionfruit falernum, and nutmeg.
- Redbird: The K-Pop, a mix of Nankai Shochu, vodka, blood orange amaro, Cointreau, lemon, tamarind, and gochugaru.
Additionally, Redbird is hosting two guest bartenders for special events, Shuzo Nagumo and Takuma Watanabe, bringing their expertise to the Los Angeles cocktail scene.
Shochu Week and Special Events
The event kicks off with “Shochu Week” from January 18th to January 24th. Notable events include:
- Shochu Night at Death&Co: A pop-up event featuring craft Shochu cocktails.
- Redbird Shochu Night: Featuring guest bartender Takuma Watanabe, with tickets available for $35, including drinks and hors d’oeuvres.
Shuzo Nagumo, a renowned mixologist, will be visiting various bars throughout the week, sharing his expertise in Shochu cocktails.
The Shochu Highball: A Signature Drink
The Shochu Highball, a simple yet elegant cocktail, is one of the best ways to appreciate Shochu. Made with Shochu, sparkling water, ice, and fresh fruits like citrus, this cocktail retains the full flavor of the base spirit while being refreshingly light.
Celebrating Cultural Exchange
This event is more than just a celebration of a drink; it’s a cultural exchange that offers a glimpse into the rich culinary tradition of Japan. As Los Angeles discovers the potential of Shochu, it also embraces a piece of Japanese culture, bringing a unique and enriching experience to the city’s vibrant culinary scene.
Los Angeles Shochu Month is a testament to the city’s diverse and ever-evolving culinary landscape. It not only offers residents and visitors a chance to indulge in unique and flavorful cocktails but also serves as a bridge between cultures, highlighting the beauty and complexity of Japanese culinary arts