The Japanese Sidecar A iichiko Silhouette Shochu Cocktail

The Japanese Sidecar with iichicko Silhouette shochu

Using a Japanese Barley Liquor for this Shochu cocktail, we made a twist on the classic sidecar!




One of the coolest parts about developing and writing about cocktails and spirits is when we discover a spirit that was totally unknown to us. Sometimes we find new spirits when we travel (does anyone else love visiting distilleries, breweries and vineyards?) and sometimes we are lucky enough to get a spirit delivered right to our door so we can explore!




Japanese Sidecar

We dig getting booze mail, so when the folks at iichiko asked if we wanted to try some of their different expressions of shochu, we figured what better way to take a quick trip to Japan without leaving our kitchen?




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The Japanese Sidecar in cocktail coupe with lemon wheel. Lemons, iichiko bottle and jigger in background





So if we were to ask you what you think is most popular alcoholic beverage in Japan, what would you say? If you are like us, you likely answered that question with either sake or one of the many varieties of Japanese whiskey, but you would be wrong!





The most popular spirit in Japan is shochu, which is a true distilled spirit that is made from a variety of starches, from buckwheat, rice or even sweet potatoes, but the top quality shochu varieties are made with barley, and the best distiller of barley based shochu is famed Japanese distiller iichiko.





The Japanese Sidecar in cocktail coupe with lemon wheel. Lemon and iichiko bottle in background





Shochu is often compared to sake, but unlike sake which is brewed like beer, shochu is a distilled spirit like vodka. Unlike vodka, shochu has a much more complex distillation process that starts with the selection of the grain. Like its slightly more famous cousin sake, there are different grades of shochu that are dependent on the amount of polished grain used in the distillation.




Like sake, the more the grain is polished, the smoother the the resulting shochu.





The Japanese Sidecar in cocktail coupe with lemon wheel. Lemons and iichiko bottle in background




How to Use Shochu in a Cocktail

For this drink, we used iichiko’s Silhouette, a 100% barley shochu that is produced by polishing the barley down until 60% of the grain remains. The barlely is then mixed with yeast, koji (a special type of bacteria that causes fermentation, which equals alcohol!) and pure spring water and allowed to ferment until there is a mash that can be distilled.





The use of the koji results in that unique funky umami flavor that is a characteristic of Japanese food and drinks (think that tangy flavor in sake!)





The Japanese Sidecar in cocktail coupe with lime wheel. iichiko bottle and lemon in background





Iichiko Silhouette is a single distillation, which results in a relatively low alcohol content of only 25%. Unlike vodka which is relatively flavorless, iichiko Silhouette has a wonderful aroma and flavor of peach, citrus and toasted nutty barley which reminded us of an unaged rye whiskey, but with out the sharp burn as a result of the lower alcohol content.




Silhouette is wonderful when served neat, as its low proof level makes it an easy sipper, but is a real star when mixed in a cocktail!





The Japanese Sidecar in cocktail coupe. iichiko bottle in background




What Other Flavors with Shochu

We liked the hint of citrus iichiko Silhouette shochu had, so we decided that we should make a variation of one of the classic citrus cocktails, the Sidecar. The sidecar is traditionally made with cognac, orange liqueur and fresh squeezed lemon juice, which results in a tart, refreshing citrus cocktail.





For our Japanese Sidecar, we used the iichiko Silhouette shochu in place of the cognac, which really allowed the flavors of the shochu to really shine! The sweetness of the orange liqueur worked really well with the nutty toasty flavors of the shochu which makes this a delightful sipping cocktail!









Like this recipe? Try these below, too!

Blood orange sidecars in vintage cocktail coupe and garnished with blood orange wheels.

Blood Orange Sidecar





The Apple Cider Sidecar, made with brandy, cointreau, fresh squeezed lemon and aromatic bitters is a tart sipping fall cocktail.

Apple Cider Sidecar





Other Shochu Cocktails

Farewell Summer Cocktail – Wishful Chef

Yuzu Sour – Just One Cookbook

Soju Lemonade – Supercall

The Yuzu Jasmine Sour – Honest Cooking

Salted Plum Haamonii Schochu Cocktail – Food Woolf





Yield: 1

The Japanese Sidecar - A Iichiko Silhouette Shochu Cocktail

A barley liquor based cocktail, this Japanese sidecar combines lemon and triple sec.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • 4 dashes orange bitters
  • .75 oz triple sec
  • .50 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1.75 oz iichiko silhouette Shochu
  • brown sugar for rimming glass


Wet the rim of a coupe glass with lemon juice.

Dip the rim of the glass into the brown sugar to rim the glass.

Add the iichiko shochu, triple sec, bitters and lemon juice to a shaker.

Add ice.

Shake and strain into your rimmed glass.

Garnish with a lemon wheel.


Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 191 Total Fat: 0.1g Saturated Fat: 0.1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 1600mg Carbohydrates: 0.4g Fiber: 0.1g Sugar: 17.4g Protein: 0.4g

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17 thoughts on “The Japanese Sidecar A iichiko Silhouette Shochu Cocktail

  1. What a delicious drink! I’d love to pick up all the ingredients at BevMo and enjoy this Japanese beverage this weekend. Thanks so much for sharing such fabulous drink inspiration.

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