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The Japanese Sidecar – Shochu Cocktails

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Last Updated on June 8, 2023 by Leah Hall

Using a Japanese Barley Liquor for these Shochu cocktails, 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?


This post contains sponsored content brought to you by iichiko. We received free product for use in this promotion but all opinions and views presented here are 100% our own. This post contains affiliate links for products that we think you as readers might find useful, and we make commission off of these! For more details about our affiliates, click our Disclosure and Contacts Page.

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 lemon wheel. iichiko bottle and lemon in background

What Ingredients are Needed for the Japanese Sidecar Cocktail?

  • Brown Sugar
  • iichiko Shochu
  • Lemon Juice
  • Triple Sec
  • Orange Bitters


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 these Shochu cocktails!

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!




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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

The Japanese Sidecar with iichicko Silhouette shochi bottle in background
Yield: 1

The Japanese Sidecar - A Iichiko Silhouette Shochu Cocktail

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

A barley liquor based cocktail, this Japanese sidecar combines lemon and triple sec.


Japanese Sidecar Cocktail

  • 1.75 ounces iichiko silhouette Shochu
  • .75 ounce triple sec
  • .50 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 dashes orange bitters
  • 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.


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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 191Total Fat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0.1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1600mgCarbohydrates: 0.4gFiber: 0.1gSugar: 17.4gProtein: 0.4g

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Sarah @ Champagne Tastes

Monday 25th of September 2017

I've never heard of shochu! Now I'm super curious- I'll look for it!!!


Tuesday 19th of September 2017

This is perfect for upcoming entertaining and holiday parties, thanks for sharing!

The 'Noms.

Wednesday 20th of September 2017

Thank you! Hope you enjoy, cheers!

Cathy Mini

Tuesday 19th of September 2017

This Japanese cocktail has me drooling!! Definitely have to try some for happy hour!

The 'Noms.

Wednesday 20th of September 2017

Thanks, hope you try it out! Cheers!


Tuesday 19th of September 2017

This looks really delicious, never heard of it but wouldn't mind having one.

The 'Noms.

Wednesday 20th of September 2017

Thank you, we had fun experimenting with this! Cheers!


Monday 18th of September 2017

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.

The 'Noms.

Wednesday 20th of September 2017

Thanks, hope you can get them and try this out! Cheers to your weekend plans!

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