3 Types of Japanese Alcohol to Keep You Warm this Winter!

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  • Winter in Japan can be rough. Even though the weather is cold, in many places there is hardly any snow to help you enjoy it. The last thing you feel like doing after freezing through a work day is come home to find out that the inside of the fridge is warmer than your apartment. It might be better to leave anything you want to keep cold on the balcony instead of in the fridge!

    Here are a few hot drinks to get you through the winter blues, and warm you from the inside out!

    warm drinks hot sake bottles

    Hot Shochu

    warm drinks cup

    You may have seen the wonderful article on shochu but the real key to enjoying this very potent Japanese beverage in winter is, you guessed it, a shot of hot boiling water.

    Mixed with the right amount, hot water transforms this formidable drink from simply alcoholic to light and mild. Mix and match the consistency as you like, but the standard bar will serve it to you 2/3 shochu, 1/3 hot water, whereas I personally prefer half and half.

    Typically, shochu ranges from 20 to 25% alcohol. Here is a picture guide, if want more precise instructions:
    warm drinks shochu ratio

    Umeshu Oyuwari (Plum Wine with Hot Water)

    Umeshu Oyuwari

    Again, delicious enough on its own, especially over ice, this plum wine is lighter than shochu – around 10 to 15% depending on the brand. The balance with this should be lighter to allow for a mild, less alcoholic bedtime tonic. Shoot for 1/4 to 2/3 hot water, 1/2 to 1/3 room temperature umeshu.

    Hot Sake

    Sake is the definitive Japanese beverage, ranging in alcohol content from 14 to 20 %. Not that most people would make this mistake, but be sure to buy DRINKING Sake, not the kind for cooking. They both have alcohol in them, but then again, so does Listerine. The drinking one is the one you want.

    You can buy a big bottle of Sake, and heat it up in a sake decanter in either a pot of boiling water or the microwave. If you choose to use a pot, bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat, and immerse the decanter (with the top wrapped in cling wrap) for 2-3 minutes. Pour into a glass that has been rinsed in boiling water, and enjoy! If you make this drink in the microwave, put a microwave-safe decanter into the microwave with the mouth covered in cling wrap. Microwave on medium (600W) for 20 seconds, swirl the sake around in the decanter, and microwave for another 20 seconds.

    Or, just buy a smaller bottle of sake from a convenience store or supermarket, pop it in some hot water or the bathtub, and get your sake on that way.

    Hopefully, these options will help you beat the cold and get warm from within.
    Here’s to a toastier you!

    Related Articles:
    Nihonshu, or “Sake”, The Iconic Japanese Rice Wine
    4 Ways to Keep Toasty In The Dead Of Japanese Winter