Shochu-Highball....New chu-hai from Mercian.
- Silverjay Oct 19, 2006 01:47 PM
In preparing for a trip back to Tokyo next month, I wanted to see if my favorite canned chu-hai (shochu highball) was still available.
Mercian is more known for their wine, but their "Honshibori" series of canned chu-hai are the best in class. "Honshibori" meaning something like "freshly squeezed". Of course nothing in a can could beat freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, a splash of sour mix, some soda, and a heavy hand of poured shochu, but the "Honshibori Grapefruit" from Mercian comes pretty darn close. The label on the can boasts that the drink is 28% fruit juice, which I guess beckons the question- is the other 72% shochu? No, but these drinks are 7% alcohol. Anyhow, I was pleasently surprised to see that besides lemon, grapefruit, lime, and orange, Mercian is this month, launching two more types- "Winter Citrus" and "Wakayama Mikan". I didn't even know Wakayama Prefecture was famous for mikans, but this drink boasts a whopping 44% fruit juice content. Can't wait to try both of them.
These chu-hai tend to sell at a slight premium over others- especially the Kirin offerings, but the price is worth it. It's cheaper than beer, more alcohol, and less calories....You'll always find chu-hai on my training table!
Having worked at a sake shop it was interesting to see who bought the chuhai. Mostly hip office ladies.
Sembikiya, the fruit shop, has fruit juice cocktails of mango or melon. 219 yen for 280 ml. 6% alcohol, so similar to beer.
Silverjay, I hope we can connect when you are in town!
Yukari, are you still working at the departo? I remembered that you have been but am not sure if that is still the case. Will be visiting Tokyo as well and would love to meet you in person!
You might want to try the -96c chuhai, they take fruit and freeze it at guess what temperature, and then smash the whole fruit to a powder. The grapefruit was not bad. Can't remember which company put them out. They had an amazing website with exploding fruit etc.
I would head to a convenience store, 7-11, etc. as they tend to have a wide variety of the newest drinks available.
Too bad Mercian couldn't get Wolfman Jack to do one of their ads when he was alive.
"Have Mercian, baby!"
But seriously, folks, these real-fruit, real-wine chu-hai concoctions are occasionally pretty darn good. Recently had a Chardonnay-flavored one from Kirin. A good alternative to lousy low-malt *happoshu* brew, at the same price.
Follow-up: The "Wakayama Mikan" is fairly light, not too syrupy or sweet, and easy to drink. Mikan though, lacks the tang of oranges, which is the appeal of screwdrivers I think, so to me, this drink misses something. It's probably for women more than men. The "Winter Citrus" has a light dry taste of weak yuzu. It's hardly sweet at all and no grapefrutish tang to it. There's not much juice in this. I don't see it in too many places. I like it better than the Honshibori Lemon, but this one isn't going to last I think.
Overall, I've reconfirmed my guilty pleasure-ish passion in the Hon-Shibori Grapefruit. I prefer the more elegant original can design from a couple of years ago, but I have no problem with them using vodka for these. It manages to be restrained in it's sweetness and taste, unlike most every other canned cocktail out there, and a good balance of bitterness with the grapefruit tang and kick from the alcohol. Best in class from my perspective and a great way to kill off a long walk/train ride for a night out in Tokyo.