Smouldering: A Shochu Cocktail - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

Smouldering: A Shochu Cocktail

“I call this drink Smouldering,” says New York bartender Ben Rojo, “inspired by yakiimo—delicious roasted sweet potato—and oyuwari—the classic pairing of shochu and hot water.” Rojo says the roasted green lends a toasted aroma and tannin structure to the cocktail, and he combines that with an imo shochu, which he infuses with brown butter to amplify the spirit’s body and add extra nuttiness to the drink’s aroma. He sweetens with a honey made from jujube and adds a pinch of salt to make all of the flavors pop. Click here to find more shochu cocktail recipes.


  • 2 oz. brown butter-washed imo shochu (Rojo uses Ikkomon)
  • 2 oz. houjicha (roasted green tea)
  • 1 tsp. natsume (jujube) honey
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • Tools:spoon
  • Glass:teacup
  • Garnish:whole dried jujube


Add hot water to a teacup to warm, then discard. Combine 3 grams of houjicha tea with 2 oz. of filtered water at 180 degrees F and steep for 90 seconds before straining. Add the remaining ingredients to the brewed tea, stirring in the natsume honey last. Garnish and enjoy while hot.

Note: Natsume honey can be found in most Asian groceries.  Dried jujube is most commonly found in Korean markets, but a dried date is a fine substitute.

Brown Butter Shochu: Pour 1 750 mL bottle of Ikkomon imo shochu into a heat- and freezer-safe container. Heat 8 oz. of butter in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until the milk solids have browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk the browned butter into the shochu before covering its container. Allow to sit at ambient temperature for 1 hour before placing in the freezer overnight. Once the butter has solidified, strain out any solids through fine mesh and either cheesecloth or a paper towel. Will keep for at least 2 weeks refrigerated in an airtight nonreactive container.

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