Friday, August 19, 2011

Oolong + Shochu = Yes Please!

Last night we had a special R&F outing to the mecca of Japanese Ramen, Ippudo. While eagerly anticipating my savory bowl of noodles, I glanced at the cocktail list. Under the Sake/Shochu list I found a 'Green Tea High' and an 'Oolong High'. I had no idea what these were but I knew one was definitely going to accompany my dinner. I learned from the server that the drinks consisted of tea and a shot of shochu. I ordered the Oolong version and while I waited for it, a fellow diner explained that shochu is a distilled alcohol usually made from barley, buckwheat, sweet potato, or rice.  

The drink was incredibly refreshing on a hot NYC summer evening. I tasted the slightly bitter earthiness of the Oolong, along with a subtle hint of something smoky that reminded me of whiskey. Shochu has a subtle flavor, and so my drink didn't have the overwhelming alcoholic taste that I usually expect from a cocktail. This makes the drink quite dangerous for me. I hardly even noticed that I was consuming any alcohol! It had a similar refreshing feel to the mugicha I recently tried.  I also love that it wasn't sweet. In fact, the server warned me that it wasn't a 'sweet cocktail'.

This drink is typically called Oolong-Hai (I guess Ippudo made it more obvious for us Americans), and is popular at izakaya and karaoke bars in Japan.

If I'm ever able to snag a table at the immensely popular restaurant again, I will try the 'Green Tea High' to see how the Shochu changes the taste of the tea.

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