Here at Sunday’s Grocery, we believe that everyone should try shochu at least once in their life. Not only is this traditional Japanese spirit affordable, it’s often artisanally produced and there’s a wide range of styles and flavors to choose from, thanks to the many different ingredients that it can be made from. Shochu really is the underdog of the Japanese beverage scene.

In Our Guide to Ordering Shochu, we explained what exactly shochu is, the main styles you should be aware of, and the different ways to order it at a bar or restaurant. But even with this knowledge, picking a bottle or glass of shochu can still be intimidating and it can be difficult to know where to start. To make this process easier, we’ve picked four of our favorite easy-drinking bottles for the shochu novice – perfect for those who want to start exploring this underrated spirit!

Pro Tip: Order Mizuwari
Mizuwari is not a type of shochu, but rather an easy-drinking way of ordering shochu. Mizuwari means to cut with cold water. Drinking a shochu mizuwari-style is akin to drinking a whisky highball – it brings out the character of the spirit but is more approachable for beginners.

Ginkou Torikai (Rice)
Available at RŌNIN

Rice shochu is known to have a clean, silent flavor, which makes it the ultimate beginner-friendly shochu. Ginkou Torikai is from Kumamoto, Kyushu, and is a great rice shochu to start with because while its flavor is clean, it has a lot more character than most rice shochu.

Tantakatan (Shiso Infused Rice)
Available at Yardbird

Tantakatan from Hokkaido is a favorite at Yardbird, especially during the summer. This well-known rice-based shochu is infused with shiso (a Japanese herb in the mint family). When this aromatic shochu is served mizuwari-style with a shiso leaf, it’s as refreshing as drinking a glass of unsweetened iced tea.

Yashiro ‘Kurogohou’ (Black Sesame)
Available at RŌNIN

Ready for something bolder? Yashiro ‘Kurogohou’ is a rice-based shochu that uses black sesame for the second fermentation and is produced in Kumamoto. It has a rich and nutty flavor with deep, earthy tones.

Sunday’s Coffee Shochu
Available at Yardbird and RŌNIN

If you’re not quite ready for straight shochu, that’s alright. There are many shochu-based beverages that are less intense but just as tasty. One example is Sunday’s Coffee Shochu, which is produced in Hyogo and is an infusion of rice shochu, Beyond Coffee Roasters’ coffee beans (based in Kobe), and Japanese rock sugar. Shaken up with some ice, Sunday’s Coffee Shochu makes for the perfect post-dinner digestif.

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