When traveling to Japan, visiting an izakaya is an absolute must. These places are a mix between bar and restaurant where many workers head after a long day. Similar to a pub, those places often serve snack-sized meals alongside alcoholic beverages. And Japanese Highballs like the Chuhai are a popular choice among the patrons.
About the Drink
A Highball is usually a simple two-ingredient cocktail. To get the best results, you need to be extra careful about the ratios and the amount of ice. Both are important to get the carbonation right because usually, one of the ingredients is a sparkling mixer.
The Chuhai Highball is made of chilled soda water and a Japanese spirit called Shochu - even hidden in the name of the long drink.
Chuhai or Chu hai is an abbreviation for Shochu and Highball, taking "chu" as the last part of Shochu and "Hi" or "High" from the term highball. That's also why you sometimes read the name written as Chu hi, Chuhi, or Chu-hi.
Ingredients in this Shochu Highball
To make this cocktail, we only need two ingredients, plus optional fruit juice:
- Shochu - Correctly written Shōchū, is a distilled Japanese liquor similar to Soju, its cousin spirit from Korea. Both got their name from the Chinese term shāojiǔ (燒酒), which means "burning liquor" or "burning sake". Shochu can be made from various ingredients like rice, barley, or brown sugar.
- Soda water - Properly chilled soda water is crucial for this drink as it adds freshness and carbonation.
- Yuzu juice - You can make a plain Chuhai without adding fruit juices, but it's most popular with fruity flavors. In our case, we opt for yuzu juice, a citrus fruit from Japan.
How to make a Chuhai cocktail
Using a clear Collins Ice stick is the best way to chill this cocktail. If you don't have that, regular solid ice cubes (not hollow) work, too. Now let's make the Chuhai Highball according to Japanese tradition:
Step 1: Ice - Add a collins ice stick or your ice cubes of choice into a chilled Highball glass.
Step 2: Shochu - pour the liquor into the glass and stir to chill it.
Step 3: Flavor - Add yuzu juice to it and stir again.
Step 4: Carbonation - Gently top up the glass with chilled club soda or soda water.
If you don't like the taste of yuzu, you can also use other fruit juices to flavor your Chuhai. Other common choices include kiwi, Japanese plum, peach, and lime.
Further, you can always opt for a plain Chuhai cocktail made from only Shochu and soda water. -One of the more traditional ways to drink Shochu.
If you like your drinks on the sweet side, you can add a splash of simple syrup to the mix. I typically skip the syrup part in our recipe as I prefer a drier Chuhai.
- 2 oz Shochu
- 1 oz Fresh Yuzu juice
- 4 oz Chilled soda water
- 1 Slice of Yuzu, lemon, or lime for garnish
- Add ice into a Highball glass and pour in Shochu. Stir a couple of seconds to chill the liquor.
- Add yuzu juice and Stir until both ingredients are well mixed and chilled.
- Top up with chilled club soda or soda water.
- Garnish with a decorative wheel of Yuzu, lemon, or lime (optional)