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What is Soju
Soju is a clear, distilled spirit made in Korea. It is often compared to sake, but sake is a fermented beverage made with rice alone, while soju is actually more similar to vodka. It is traditionally made with rice, although modern soju is often also made with other starches, such as potatoes, wheat, barley, sweet potatoes, or tapioca. Its is similar in flavor to vodka, but tends to be slightly sweeter with a smoother finish. Most soju is around 20-25% ABV, but it can range from as low as 15% to as high as 45% ABV.
Soju still is not all that well known in the United States outside of Korean communities, but it is reported to be the best selling alcoholic beverage in the world and has been a part of Korean tradition for centuries. It has, however, been steadily becoming more and more popular.
How to drink it
Soju is served in small shot glasses and you can shoot it or sip it. It is typically served straight, but you can take the edge off the peppery finish with a squeeze of lemon or a splash of soda. Soju is also very popular in cocktails, because its neutral taste can be incorporated into almost any drink, much like vodka can be, but its milder flavor makes it easier to drink. In California, soju can be served in many restaurants and bars that have only a beer-wine license and, as a result, it is it is much more common to see it featured on cocktail menus these days.
In Korea, it is polite to clink glasses before drinking and to always drink together – which means that if one drinker in your group likes to shoot it, you may find yourself drinking quite a lot of soju during your meal.