May 1, 2010

Soju - Not just for breakfast anymore

Soju first appeared in Korea in the 14th century. Quite similar to vodka it is distilled from starch. Soju is traditionally distilled from rice. However, modern commercial makers use many other sources such as potato, wheat, or barley. The first time I consumed this quiet asassin I didn't care for it. I certainly didn't care for the headache the next day. I personally use it a a mixer. Its subtle flavor virtually disappears when combined with anything fruity. I long to test it out with simple Kool-Aid - Oh Yeah! I imagine this mixture could cripple the entire alcohol industry with the cost effectiveness. Maybe I will open up a soju bar in the states. A bottle of soju sells for roughly a dollar and packs enough punch to knock you rather silly.

Rumor has it that formaldehyde is present in the beverage. I am reasonably sure that it is not included in the modern practice of making soju. I do know that the alcohol content used to be much higher. In the not too distant past the content was similar to whiskey or gin. This combination of high alcohol content and low price did not make a lot of business sense. The producers have colluded and the level present in most soju today is around 20%.

Many if not most Koreans drink it straight. The youth seems to be infatuated with soju cocktails. The way I roll is called So-Mack (소맥). Soju plus Mackju (beer) equals bliss for me.

Korean beer is quite horrible and this mix makes it much more than tolerable. This method is more common with older men. I have earned much drinking respect amongst these men for both my etiquette and desire for mass consumption. In Korea, one should never pour their own glass. So, when the time comes pour the soju into a shot glass and make it half full. Empty the shot glass into a beer glass. Then pour the beer into the larger vessel and stop at the lowest level of the colored advertising on the glass. This is called a "point" pour and from time to time will elate a member of the drinking party. It works out to be a ratio of roughly one part soju to three and a half parts beer. The first beverage of the night should be consumed in "one shot" fashion. The rest are at your leisure. Cheers! Gumbay! WeeHighYuh!


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