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A Toasty-Sweet Cocktail Where Rice Is Both Sweetener and Spirit

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Chuhai is a bubbly drink made with shochu, a Japanese spirit distilled primarily from rice. And if it weren't in the name, you might never guess that rice is the unusual, sweetly toasty, surprisingly creamy force behind this super-refreshing cocktail.

Toasted Rice Chuhai
Toasted Rice Chuhai

Here, it's sweetened with a simple syrup steeped with toasted sweet rice and vanilla, giving it a cream soda-like flavor—and making it wonderfully addictive, even without the added spike of soju. Make a big batch of the syrup now and stash it in the fridge. Then the next time you're hankering for something bubbly and sweet (or looking for not-so-fruity summer cocktail), you need only to stir a bit together with soju, a splash of rice vinegar for brightness, and a long pour of seltzer water.

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Toasted Rice Chuhai

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Makes about 1 1/2 cups syrup

Toasted Rice Syrup

  • 1 cup sweet rice (sometimes called glutinous or sticky rice)*
  • 1 cup evaporated cane juice (or substitute granulated or turbinado sugar)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Toasted Rice Chuhai

  • 1 1/2 ounces Jinro Soju
  • 1 1/2 ounces toasted rice syrup
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar (or substitute lemon juice)
  • Ice
  • Seltzer

How else do you use rice drinks? Let us know in the comments below!

Tags: rice, Chuhai,