This week at the farmer’s market we had a conversation with friends about cocktail alternatives, mostly looking for things that would be lower carb or keto friendly, which honestly, includes most pure spirits. Of course, there are lots of cocktails using spirits and bitters, maybe a bit of soda that would fall into that category. It’s really not that tricky, as long as you avoid syrups, colas and fruit juices, there’s nothing wrong with a vodka tonic and a twist of lime. The discussion did remind me of a spirit that I don’t use often enough. It is pretty tasty and may introduce you to something new. So, join me now as we stand and make, the Shochu-Jito.

I was introduced to Shochu several years ago in New York as an alternative “clean” alcohol. It is a Japanese spirit usually distilled from rice, sweet potato, barley, buckwheat or even brown sugar. There are variations based on technique and source of the mash, but across the board they all seem to have a smooth mouthfeel and clean flavor. It is typically bottled at a lower proof, which may help with that, but it is wonderful as an alternative in almost any cocktail using a clear spirit. So today we are going to use it in a riff on the Mojito, with a Japanese flair.
Grab your tins and pop in a handful of mint along with 2 ounces of Shochu, I went with Takara Shochu Jun. Muddle the mint, you don’t have to beat it up too bad just enough to release the oils. Add 3/4 of an ounce of fresh squeezed lime juice, 3/4 of an ounce of ginger syrup and 3/4 of an ounce of pomegranate juice. Add ice and shake hard to the beat of Roxy Music’s “More Than This”. Strain into a collins glass and top with club soda, I went with Topo Chico. Garnish with some lime wheels, fresh mint and one of those wonderful glass bamboo straws from Surfside Sips.

This is a nice variation, might be even better if it were just a straight swap for the rum in a standard mojito, but the pomegranate and ginger make a lovely change. Shochu always brings such a nice clean flavor to any drink, this one is definitely worth trying. I forget about how interesting this alcohol is. Lower proof than most mixers, but what it lacks in proof it makes up in character, with that clean and smooth flavor.

Working through this one made me wonder, how many other great things have I forgotten about over the years. This bottle has been sitting on the back of the shelf, gathering dust for quite a while. I knew it was good, it just moved out of sight and therefore out of mind. We spend our whole lives discovering things and forgetting about them nearly as quickly. I guess that makes the ones you hold on to all the more special, but the older I get the more I worry about what we left discarded along the way. So fire up “Lost in Translation” kick back and ponder all those things, we loved and forgot, maybe even have a Zinger to help wash down the regret. Don’t get down, though, there is still time to discover so many more things, even those we already know. Time and distance erase some memories, but maybe Journey got it right when they sang about the joy of rediscovery. After all, if two strangers can meet to fall in love again, maybe there is hope for all of us. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friend.