Hong Kong’s The Aubrey uses new cocktail menu to spotlight Japanese spirit shochu

The Aubrey at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is spotlighting the Japanese spirit shochu with its innovative new cocktail programme. 

Although more widely consumed in Japan than sake or whisky, shochu remains little-known overseas. But Devender Sehgal, Hotel Beverage Manager at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, wants to help guests discover the revered centuries-old spirit at the hotel’s Japanese izakaya-style venue. “Hong Kong people have a sophisticated palate and embrace new discoveries, particularly when it comes to Japan,” he says. “I’m excited to introduce something that is so celebrated, yet many guests are unfamiliar with.” 

Launching on 3 August, The Aubrey’s new cocktail menu features eight concoctions two distinct drinks per internationally-protected geographical indication (GI) of shochu. These GIs recognise the special qualities of a product from a particular region, and Sehgal’s new drinks each showcase the unique characteristics of shochu from the GIs of four prefectures across southern Japan.

They include the Harmony cocktail, comprised of just two key ingredients – satsuma shochu made using imo (sweet potato) from Kagoshima prefecture on the island of Kyushu, and sauvignon blanc juice. Naturally carbonated to finish and garnished with a nasturtium leaf, this refreshing cocktail sparkles on the palate.

There’s also the Two Row Barley, which layers one barley-based spirit (shochu) on another (Scotch whisky), to create a cocktail with power and finesse. The Mizu No Kuni (land of water) cocktail expresses the purity and clarity of the famed waters of the Kuma River, using the floral characteristics of Kuma shochu made from polished fragrant kome (rice) from the city of Hitoyoshi in Kumamoto prefecture, while the Worship cocktail features Awamori – a shochu made with Thai long-grain rice from the island of Okinawa, thought to be the oldest spirit distilled in Japan. 

“Shochu is so well thought out as distillers have spent more than 500 years perfecting the process,” says Sehgal. “The Aubrey is pleased to be the foremost bar in Hong Kong focusing on shochu and to play an educational role by creating original cocktails that bring out the nuances of this exceptional spirit.”