When it comes to the venerable world of Japanese alcohol, there is nothing quite so humble or as loved as chu-hi. Chu-hi are a category of Japanese cocktail made from mixing a fruit juice, traditionally lemon, with shochu and club soda. And while this is a staple of the bar world, chu-hi truly grew into its own drink and market share with the introduction of canned chu-hi.
To get the true chu-hi experience, one needs to walk into a Japanese grocery store or convenience store to see the huge myriad of options expanding in the refrigerated paradise. Yet despite the wide range of chu-hi, the vast majority are made by the big four companies: namely, Suntory, Sapporo, Asahi, and Kirin.
Chu-hi are available in standard can sizes, but are almost always side by side with the larger tallboy version. They're often marketed with a higher alcoholic percentage, usually 7% to 9%, but can be as low as 3%. They rarely go over 9%, as after that they run the risk of hitting a higher tax bracket.
If beer and sake aren’t quite your thing, and wine and whisky don’t really wet your whistle, chu-hi might just be the drink to explore when it comes to Japanese alcohol. Especially with summer approaching, chu-hi is the perfect accompaniment to grilling out in nature, relaxing with friends, or taking the edge off on a humid summer night.
About the author:
Michael is originally from Chicago, IL in the United States, but has lived in Japan for seven years in Niigata and Hokkaido. He is an avid home chef, baker, and coffee enthusiast, but his one true love is ramen. Ever in pursuit of the perfect bowl of noodles, you can always find him by listening for the tell-tale slurp of ramen being enjoyed!
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