Korean culture has become increasingly popular in recent years, thanks in part to the influx of South Korean anime, films, music, and fashion.
With this has come an increasing desire for Korean cuisine and cocktails, with one of the most popular ingredients for the latter being the colorless, distilled spirit soju – which translates to ‘burned liquor’.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at 13 of the best soju cocktails out there right now!
Offering a sweet sensation, this strawberry soju cocktail takes the already sweet South Korean spirit and combines it with calpico – a fruity still soft drink that is popular in the country.
This drink tastes just like strawberry juice, albeit with the subtle alcoholic bite of the soju, which lets you know that this delicate, angelic concoction has a naughty side as well.
What really sells this drink (other than the flavor) is the sheer attractiveness of its design.
A luscious blend of reds and pinks, the strawberry soju cocktail is served over heapings of ice, to create what is essentially an alcoholic strawberry milkshake – perfect for those warm summer days, and chilly winter evenings.
While a Caipirinha is a traditional Portuguese drink made from cachaca – a sugar cane hard liquor – the soju caipirinha offers a distinctive yet respectful take on this classic Iberian beverage.
With a simple yet refreshing set of ingredients, including soju, sugar, sliced lime, and crushed ice, this really does feel like a taste of summer, and is the perfect cool down drink for lazy days in the midafternoon sun.
What’s more, the soju instills this already stylish drink with a sense of timeless elegance reflective of the rich South Korean heritage to which it belongs.
3. Soju & Tonic
This simplistic take on the classic gin and tonic offers a subtle difference to the classic barroom favorite.
Whereas gin is generally a bitter spirit, the understated sweetness of the soju transforms this classic from being somewhat boring and generic, to a higher level of elegance and playfulness previously unexplored.
One of the more unusual concoctions on this list, the somaek is essentially the South Korean equivalent of the classic American Boilermaker – keeping the beer-spirit combination, but instead swapping out the Kentucky bourbon for sweet, sharp soju.
A popular drink amongst students and those on the bar scene, this is as alcoholic as it is delicious, and offers a fresh way to consume spirits in a package that is far more social and laid back.
This cocktail embraces what a colorful, versatile summertime spirit soju can be, by combining it with watermelon juice and maple syrup to create a sticky, sweet, yet infinitely refreshing cocktail perfect for the hot weather of the summer months.
This is commonly shared between a group of people, and served within a hollowed out watermelon skin, although many cocktail bars will focus on an elegant presentation in a glass.
Why not give it a try?
A somewhat unusual concoction, the Korean yogurt soju cocktail takes the sweetness of soju spirit, and combines it with Asian yogurt drinks and lemon and lime soda to create a thick, creamy, refreshing citrus drink that very much reflects the modern popularity of iced coffee beverages within society.
Perfect for as an all year round drink, these go just as perfectly in the summer as they do the festive period, and make a great change to the traditional soju cocktail.
If there are two distinct design styles that South Korean culture expertly delivers, it is timeless, sleek elegance, and a distinct playfulness that many have come to love.
These cucumber soju coolers very much represent the former – with their crystal clear coloring, crisp flavors, and attractive minimalism, these very much represent the stylistic principles of a country that continues to influence us so much.
Perfect for the heat, or for a midmorning brunch or after dinner palate cleanser, this drink is as versatile as the soju itself, and will leave you feeling refreshed, purified, and hydrated, all while delivering you a sleek alcoholic beverage.
The great thing about soju is that, like gin and vodka, its relatively neutral flavorings make it the perfect companion to any number of mixers.
Like the gin/vodka and orange before it, the orange soju cocktail takes two things that were born to be together, and really goes to town making it happen.
A refreshing, light, and carefree combination, the sweetness of the soju is only enhanced by the citrus of the orange juice, creating the perfect balance between sour and sweet.
As mentioned in the last section, the key benefit of using soju is the potential it has to be combined with any number of mixers and ingredients.
For a more tropical flavor palette, why not combine it with fresh pineapple juice and rum, to create a sweet, tangy, and refreshing beverage that feels right out of the Caribbean?
This goes great in the heat, and can be served in a hollowed out pineapple shell for that extra aesthetic element. This can also be a great punch for you and your friends to share, and provides a distinct fruity, island flair to any BBQ or get-together.
For something a little different, why not try the sesame soju?
This essentially creates a fresh take on the classic white rum mojito, exchanging the bitterness of the white rum for the distinct sweetness of the soju, and combining it with the dry, bitterness of sesame leaves to create a truly complex and tasty flavor combination.
When combined with the tangy freshness of the limes, this drink really comes into its own, offering a perfect blend of sweet, salty, and sour, to create a balanced drink with a ton of character.
11. The Seoul Mule
The traditional Russian classic, the Moscow Mule, is a drink that has been constantly adapted, experimented with, and reconfigured, with mixologists from all over the world exchanging the classic vodka base for tequila, liqueur, and any number of other spirits.
Replacing the bitterness of the vodka with the sweetness of the soju is a bold choice, and completely changes the base flavor of this classic cocktail, turning it into something different entirely.
But that’s not to say it completely forgets its roots, as the ginger used in this cocktail provides enough burn to keep out the coldest of Baltic winters without any problems.
This playful take on the classic G+T (gin and tonic) incorporates soju with celery juice and tonic water to create something light and refreshing.
This almost tastes like a health drink, and anyone without prior knowledge would be shocked to think that the C+T contains even a drop of alcohol.
That being said, the light and playful flavor palette of the C+T really represents a meeting of minds, mixing hard alcohol with a sense of purity and cleanliness – much like the current cultural exchange the west is sharing with South Korea.
Perfect for brunch, or as a cool replacement for the classic Bloody Mary, this drink can be customized however you want, either with pepper and tabasco sauce for that familiar breakfast cocktail taste, or with sugar around the rim for an enhanced sweetness distinctive of the soju itself.
Last on our list, but by no means least, this raspberry soju cocktail takes inspiration from classic summer fruit concoctions, resembling what might be seen in classic gin or vodka cocktails, but replacing that bitter taste of those classic spirits with the sweetness fans of soju have come to know and love.
Perfect as an accompaniment to a light lunch with friends, or for a stiff drink after a long day at work, this cocktail is as versatile as it is delicious, representing the modern to and fro of life, wherein the fittest need to adapt and roll with the punches in order to survive.
In many ways this simple concoction epitomizes the South Korean national spirit – that is one of complexity and contradiction.
While this drink is elegant, it is playfully fruity, and while it is refreshing and light, there is a wild, almost primal undercurrent thanks to the tartness of the berries, and the strength of the alcohol itself.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about the widely popular South Korean spirit, and some of the amazing cocktails you can make with it.
One thing that is worth saying about Soju is just how versatile it is as an alcoholic base spirit, offering an accessibility into a world of flavor seldom experienced in the western world.
Why not try some for yourself? Something tells me you won’t be disappointed!