Jun 6, 2018
Can cocktail drinks are so perfect for drinking at home if you aren't the izakaya type, although sometimes they're served in restaurants as well. Chu-hi, highball, or sours are sweet, have alcohol content up to 8% for the 'strong' brands, and perfect when you want to relax but stay aware. They often contain vodka as their alcohol, but sometimes the label shows 'spirits' or 'western alcohol' meaning not based on rice or traditional alcohol. The ones which are actually made with rice based liquor (nihonshu) or brandy for example are much nicer, and usually more expensive. Likewise the type made fresh in the restaurants (fresh grapefruit!) are tastier compared with those poured from the cheapest can into your glass. The store brands are a little cheaper but don't taste as nice, where the Suntory Horoyoi (a little drunk) and Kirin Hyoketsu (freezing) brands are affordable but don't have such an obvious cheap alcohol taste.
As I'm a cheap date, these can chu-hi (especially the weaker Horoyoi brand at 3% alcohol) are perfect for me. I think I was turned onto them from my side hustle at the occasional international party where beer, horoyoi chu-hi, and snacks were provided. Back then I could even drink two cans of the sweet horoyoi and not feel nervous talking to strangers without too much of a buzz. These days, if I share one can with my husband, I'm feeling good. One can on my own is almost too much, which proves what a lightweight I am.
Horoyoi has a newer premium line, and I just tried their white sour which contains brandy and vanilla. It was so nice and smooth after a week of work. The fruit flavors contain up to 26% juice, depending on the flavor, which is impressive. Even their regular fruit chu-hi has a super fresh fruit taste.
I've also tried Suntory's Kokushibori kiwi flavor (10% juice) and the flavor is spot on fresh fruit. It's so welcome in a country where fruit is seasonal and expensive. I miss having tons of it around all year. (Yesterday I was looking for the owner of a tree I spotted on a walk, full of what appeared to be ripe apricots, ready to pay cash to be allowed to pick some. I never found out which property the tree was on and didn't see anyone to ask, but will go back. Otherwise it's the seasonal Horoyoi apricot flavor.)
I'm the type who's fond of the strangest and rarest flavors I can spot, to try out the local taste or experience something unique. Seasonal is also perfect. Photos in the gallery are winter mikan, Wakayama plum sour from Kaldi, and the 8% kabosu highball from Oita Prefecture.
I hope you've had a chance to enjoy these can cocktails in Japan too!