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Flavor of the Week

The rise of the Korean spirit Soju

Soju, a colorless Korean distilled alcoholic beverage, is often consumed neat but is increasingly being seen on U.S. menus incorporated into creative cocktails.

Soju, and its Japanese cousin shochu, are fairly mild distilled spirits made from a variety of grains, or starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes. Often drunk neat or infused with ingredients such as cucumber or Asian pear, they contain about half the alcohol of vodka and other Western spirits, which allows for a great deal of versatility in cocktail development.

Also, in many jurisdictions their relatively low alcohol content allows restaurants with only beer-and-wine licenses, rather than full liquor licenses, to use them.

Market research firm Datassential reports that soju is found on 0.9% of U.S. menus, up 31% over the past four years. A large part of that increase could be due to the growing popularity of lower-alcohol beverages, or it could be attributed to the growing popularity of Korean food and culture.

Click through the gallery to learn more about this Flavor of the Week and see how one restaurant is using soju on its menu.

TAGS: Drink Trends
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