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iichiko Makes Its First Pop-Up Bar In Singapore - Here's What You Can Get

While sake reps Japan's alcohol industry as its poster child overseas, shochu is still the most widely consumed alcoholic beverage amongst the locals. Often drunk neat, chilled, with ice or chased with soda water to name a few, shochu's versatility has seen it be a mainstay in the many izakayas that dot Japan and abroad.

 

 

For the first time, iichiko is setting up a pop-up bar in Singapore! Makoto Group, the Singapore and Malaysia represent for the iichiko brand, is participating in Gastrobeats 2024 this year - setting up a container bar that features Japan's top shochu brand. From 31st May to 23rd June, the pop-bar is featuring the famous iichiko Mugi Shochu, iichiko BAR Yuzu Liqueur, as well as Tumugi (reviews soon!).

 

 These would be the full-sized drinks! The drinks below are sample-sized for the media event.

We've been invited down by the folks at Makoto-ya for a sneak-peak of the cocktails to come at the pop-up. We'll be reviewing the shochus on it's own in due time, but for now let's have a sip test of what's available from the bar!

iichiko Kyushu Highball (Lemon/Calpis)  | 九州県産ハイボール (レモン/カルピス)

iichiko shochu hails from Oita Prefecture, sitting at the north-eastern most tip of Kyushu prefecture. Said to be the origin of distillation and shochu in Japan, the folks at Kyushu have discovered and invented numerous ways to enjoy the spirit. However, nothing quite stuck with the Japanese populace more than having shochu in the highball format - that is, chased with an often carbonated soft drink. For this iichiko pop-up, the chaser is the Schwepps Soda Water.

 

 

The first drink I had was the iichiko Kyushu Lemon Highball. You get the flavour of the Mugi Shochu that has been elevated by the lemon zest - not too sour, but  enough to give a lemoney flavour with the citrus oils coating the tongue. On the finish, you get a crisp, mineral-water like flavour with a very mild gruel-like aroma from the shochu. This combination is classic for good reason – a great drink to start out the night!

For those who've not been acquainted with Calpis (it's not what it sounds like), Calpis is a popular soft-drink that has a yogurt, cultured milk flavour - often sold in school cafeterias and convenience stalls across Japan.

 

 

The cocktail is interestingly sweet and refreshing - you get just a slight lactic tang from the Calpis, prickling at the sides of the tongue. The cocktail reminds me slightly of banana milk, having that confectionery sort of sweetness. I appreciate the blueberries that add a pop of contrast!

The cocktails cost $12 each, and $20 as a set.

TUMUGI Summer Mojito

Tumugi is the craft, higher-proof cousin of the iichiko Mugi Shochu. Claiming to be the first craft spirit made for cocktails in Japan, the shochu is made with malted barley and koji, before being distilled to a higher proof at 40% ABV, a step up from the 25% of the iichoko Mugi Shochu.

 

 

The TUMUGI Summer Mojito is made with herbs and ingredients sourced all over Japan: kabosu (a type of citrus fruit) from Oita Prefecture, Ehime lemon, Shizuoka mandarin orange, Oita mint and Koichi yuzu.

 

On the nose, you get a koji funk quite prevalently on the nose. You get a unique blend of citruses and mint on the on the palate – while relatively familiar to a standard mojito, the citruses are slightly different and unfamiliar – this time, having a slightly floral yet bitter component to them. On the finish, it reminds me slightly of ponzu sauce over shisho leaves. This cocktail has a bit more complexity should you be looking for something bolder for the night.

The TUMUGI Summer Mojito costs $20.

 

The full drinks menu: you get to taste the iichiko BAR Yuzu, Wakabotan Hinohikari Junmai Ginjo and the Wakabotan Yamada Nishiki Junmai Ginjo as well!

By purchasing a drink at the iichiko pop-up bar, you'll get a #iichikoAfterParty coupon that entitles you to a drink made with iichiko shochu across more than 40 establishments in Singapore as well.

 

 

If you're heading down to Gastrobeats in June, do drop by the bar for a shochu highball! More information on the iichiko bar pop-up in Gastrobeats 2024 can be found here.

@vernoncelli