If you use shochu simply as an additive, or to quickly reach an irresponsible inebriety, just skip reading the following!
-As explained before, shochu comes in four main varieties: imo/tubers, mugi/wheat-grain, kome/rice and finally in what I call “fancy shochu” (which is not a detrimental term at all!).
-So, first decide on the variety. As far as quality is concerned, shochu in Shizuoka Prefecture is only produced by Sake Brewers, which means higher quality and dependability.
-Once you have chosen your baby, first pour a tiny bit inside a a normal glas, turn it around until the bouquet (smell) reaches your nostrils (smokers, get out of here!). Taste it sat room temperature. It will give you a kick, but you will learn its truecharacter.
-Next, if you are a true shochu lover, fill a large glass with ice (one very large block is best), pour a reasonable quantity of shochu on it, and drink it slowly through (or around) the ice. As the ice slowly melts, the shochu taste will subtly change, giving you an indication, whether you want to drink it straight, on the rocks, or with a certain amount of ice and water, or added with warm water.
-After all, you are in Shizuoka, so why don’t you try the “Shizuoka Hai”. Pour hot or ice-cold Shizuoka green tea, or better, mixed with powdered “macha” tea. You might get hooked!
-The other step is to find what goes best with shochu (as regards your personal taste): ginger ale, oolong tea, soda,… There is no end to it!