How To Drink Soju According To South Korean Tradition

How To Drink Soju According To South Korean Tradition
Contributor: Lifehacker Australia

Soju, a South Korean spirit, is in hot demand in Australia after pop culture phenomena like Squid Game and Parasite and other K-dramas put it on the world map, and the growing interest in South Korean food. To meet the increase in demand, Dan Murphy’s and BWS have doubled the amount of South Korean drinks to their shelves, and now offer 40 different products made in the Asian country. 

If you want to add the spirit to your list of go-to drinks, it’s definitely worth learning the longstanding traditions associated with pouring and drinking soju. Following these rituals can create a sense of purpose and emphasise the importance of spending quality time with loved ones — as well as the joys of drinking a high-quality spirit.

What is soju?

Soju is a Korean spirit typically made from rice, wheat or barley (although it can also be made from potato starch). It’s a smooth yet slightly biting drink, with a soft aftertaste that feels almost sweet. Because of its complex flavour, soju is best enjoyed neat, in a chilled glass — but it can be a great feature ingredient in a cocktail too.

Soju dates back to the 13th Century and accounts for 97 per cent of the South Korean liquor market, and is the most sold liquor in the world.

Always drink soju with friends

In Korean culture it’s customary to always drink with others, not alone. Before you even open your bottle of soju, make sure you’re enjoying your friends’ company!

Keep it chilled

Soju is typically consumed as a shot, neat and chilled. This helps bring out the subtle flavours of the liquor. Make sure you put the bottle in the fridge a few hours before you plan on drinking it.

The oldest person in the group pours the first shot

Now, let’s get to serving the soju. The first step is all about showing respect. The oldest person in your group should pour everyone’s drink except their own. Once they’ve served everyone, someone else in your group should pour a glass for them.

Hold your glass with both hands as your drink is poured

According to traditional etiquette, you should make sure you hold your glass with both hands as your drink is poured. This is particularly important if the person pouring your glass is much older than you, or holds a high ranking (i.e. your boss). You may even bow your head and avoid eye contact during this step. If you’re just drinking with close friends, this may not be as important.

Never pour your own drink

While the first drink is poured by the oldest in the group, others at the table are expected to refill each others’ glasses — making sure they never fill their own glass. If someone pours you a glass of soju, you’re expected to pour them a glass, too.

You don’t always have to drink the soju all in one go as you would a shot, either. You can sip it slowly if you like!

How to drink soju in a cocktail

If you’re not into drinking the spirit straight, there are many ways to incorporate soju into your next favourite cocktail. Many people use it as a replacement for vodka when mixing a cocktail. One of the most popular ways to enjoy soju is to mix it with beer, which is called somaek or soju bomb. You can even mix a shot of soju with a bottle of Yakult for a yoghurt-inspired twist (trust us!) 

Where can I get Soju in Australia?

Chateul Soorok Soju has just landed in Dan Murphy’s, and is a Soju produced using a natural bamboo charcoal purification process. This popular clean and fresh brand of soju is made with pure and natural spring water and comes in 10 different flavours – including original, Lychee, Blueberry and Americano. Available in BWS and Dan Murphy’s stores across the country! 

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