RECIPE

Inspired by "Squid Game," here are 6 must-try soju cocktails

Soju's fruity sweetness makes it an easy add-in to slushies and lemonades

By Xinrou Shu

Published December 5, 2021 4:30PM (EST)

Soju Cocktail (Franke Tsang/South China Morning Post via Getty Images)
Soju Cocktail (Franke Tsang/South China Morning Post via Getty Images)

I call soju a "sweet bomb." It comes in a variety of fresh-tasting flavors, ranging from peach and pineapple to watermelon and grape. These smooth out the bitter liquor taste so well, you can't help but sipping. This is soju's trick — a sweet taste that seems so harmless that it lures you to have a few shots (or a few bottles) more. It's not until the next morning's hangover that you realize, "Dang! It's all because of the green bottles last night." I've been there a few times before, so my advice is simple: Don't underestimate those green bottles. 

Soju is the national drink in South Korea, but has become popular in western countries in recent years. People often refer to it as "Korean Vodka," and, according to The Spirits Business, Jinro Soju, titled "the world's best selling spirit brand," sold 86.3 million bottles in 2019. Soju originated in Arabia and was called "araq."

RELATED: Months after its Netflix debut, "Squid Game" continues to encourage US viewers to learn Korean

After Ghengis Khan first introduced araq to Mongolia, his grandson, Kublai Khan, brought it to Korea during the Yuan Dynasty when he moved into the Korean Peninsula.

A fun fact: Soju can translate directly to "burning alcohol." But the soju we consume now has largely different alcohol by volume (ABV) from the originals with 35% ABV. Traditionally distilled from rice, this distillation method was banned by the government in 1965 during the Korean War. Due to the prohibition, people started looking for alternatives like sweet potatoes and tapioca, which led to lower ABVs. Today, Jinro Soju only contains 13% of alcohol.

Often seen in K-dramas and films, soju continues to get global attention as cultural phenomena like "Squid Game" and "Parasite" open a window for Korean culture. And sure, you can drink soju straight in the bottle like Sang-Woo does in "Squid Game," but if you're looking for a more chill — but still slightly tipsy — night, you should try these easy-to-make soju cocktails that are lighter and taste even better. And don't be intimidated by soju's flavors. You can pick any flavor to try out the recipes.

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Recipe: Soju Slushy
Ingredients

  • 2 shots of soju 
  • Half a mango (or fruit of your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons of mango juice (optional)
  • Splash of heavy cream
  • Ice cubes

Directions

Chop half mango into pieces and blend them well with soju, a splash of heavy cream, mango juice and ice cubes. 

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Soju Lemonade
Ingredients

  • 2 shots of soju (fresh soju recommended)
  •  A can of Sprite
  • Lemon

Directions

Mix soju shots with a can of sprite. Squeeze fresh lemon juice into it and stir gently. Lastly, you can garnish it with a lemon slice.

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Lychee Sojurita
Ingredients

  • 2 shots of soju
  • 20 ounces of lychees in syrup

Directions

Freeze lychees for two hours in advance. Blend frozen lychees with two tablespoons of lychee syrup and two shots of soju. Pour the mixture in a glass then top with extra soju, if desired. 

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Soju Yakult
Ingredients

  • 2 shots of Soju
  • 2 bottles of Yakult (a Japanese sweetened probiotic milk available at most Asian markets)
  • Sprite or lemon sparkling water
  • Ice cubes

Directions

Fill the glass with ice cubes. Pour soju and Yakult into the glass and mix them well. Top with Sprite (or lemon sparkling water if you don't have a sweet tooth). 

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Melona Bar Soju
Ingredients

  • 2 shots of Soju
  • Sprite
  • Ice cubes
  • Melona Bar (a Korean ice cream bar)

Directions

Pour soju into a glass with ice cubes. Top it with Sprite. Dunk the melona bar into the mixture. If you don't have a Melona Bar handy, you can substitute it with any fruity ice cream. Stir the ice cream for a bit until it slightly melts.

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Watermelon Soju
Ingredients 

  • 2 bottles of soju 
  • A watermelon
  • Ice cubes

Directions

This is a perfect party drink for a crowd. Cut the watermelon in half, scoop out the red flesh. If you want to make it more fun, you can use a melon baller to cut the watermelon into small balls to use as garnish. After blending the flesh in a blender, you can strain the watermelon juice through a sieve to get a clearer juice. Mix four cups of watermelon juice and four cups of soju (you can increase or decrease the recipe as long as you keep the 1:1 ratio) in a container. Pour it into the empty watermelon "shell" and top it with ice cubes. Serve the drink in glasses.

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Xinrou Shu

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Cocktails Recipe Soju Soju Cocktails Squid Game