This Old Fashioned Samurai cocktail is a recipe based on Shochu, a distilled spirit that's very popular in Japan but almost unknown outside the country.
The traditional Old Fashioned cocktail is made with Whiskey. In fact, it's one of the most popular drinks you make with Whiskey, if not the most famous one.
Today there are many twists and riffs on the recipe with all kinds of base spirits. Twists like the Oaxacan Old Fashioned or riffs based on Mezcal and Rum are spreading more and more.
But before we get to the recipe, let's talk about Shochu first.
What is Shochu?
Shochu is a Japanese distilled spirit that contains 25% to 35% alcohol by volume. It's Japan's most-loved alcoholic beverage above Sake, Beer, and Whisky.
Depending on the production process, Shochu is either classified as traditional Honkaku Shochu or as Korui Shochu. The latter gets distilled multiple times to remove as many impurities as possible.
Honkaku, on the other hand, is only distilled once, leaving more aroma and taste in the spirit.
The spirit can be made from more than 50 different ingredients. And depending on those, it is classified into different types. The most popular ones are:
- Imo Shochu (made from sweet potato)
- Mugi Shochu (made from barley )
- Kome Shochu (made from rice)
- Kokuto Shochu (made from brown sugar)
- Soba Shochu (made from buckwheat)
- Shiso Shochu (made from Shiso herb)
Ingredients of the Old Fashioned Samurai
On the whole, you need the following elements:
- Barrel-aged Shochu
- Regular sugar - or black kokuto sugar if you make your Old Fashioned with Nankai Gold.
- Angostura bitters
- Soda water
- Orange peel
Which Shochu in an Old Fashioned
The best way to make a Samurai Old Fashioned is by using an aged Shochu as the base spirit. That is actually a relatively uncommon thing, but there are some premium bottles you can use for this.
The reason to go with aged Shochu is that Old Fashioned cocktails generally are made with barrel-aged spirits like Whiskey. And by aging a spirit in barrels, the flavors will mellow and become smoother.
And not only does a spirit become smoother, richer, and more mellow by barrel-aging, but it will develop its unique flavor profile.
My favorite Shochus to use in an Old Fashioned are Suginishiki Shochu 13y and Nankai Gold.
Nankai Gold is a Honkaku Shochu distilled from black sugar (80%) and rice (20%). The distilled Shochu is then aged for up to 5 years and blended with other casks before the Shochu is bottled.
Suginishiki Shochu is an aged Kome Shochu (made from rice) aged 13 years in oak casks. The result is a rich Shochu with a deep flavor profile.
- 2 oz Barrel-aged Shochu
- 1 tsp Sugar (black kokuto sugar if you make it with Nankai Gold)
- 3 dash Angostura bitters
- 1 splash Soda water
- Orange peel
- Add sugar, Angostura bitters, and a splash of soda water into a rocks glass. Muddle and stir the mix until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Add Shochu, then add a large and clear ice cube.
- Stir the drink for 10 seconds.
- Press an orange peel over the drink and drop the peel into it afterwards.