Soju is a Korean spirit that I liken to a lighter vodka—it has little to no taste and usually comes in around 20%, whereas vodka is usually 40%.
This vodka comparison means it can be consumed a few ways. Sometimes we drink it straight, sipping from shot glasses, sometimes we have it over ice, sometimes we’ll use soju in place of vodka in a cocktail, and sometimes I infuse soju with fruit to make a refreshing, sweet, delicious alcohol.
As far as my infused alcohols go, this one is quite simple and affordable. All you need are two oranges, a lemon, some sugar, and two bottles of soju. Even at the very expensive alcohol prices here in the province of Manitoba, a bottle of soju comes in around $11.
To start, slice up the oranges and lemon. I usually cut them in quarters and then slice it up from there. The more surface area you have, the better—so you ideally wants lots of little slices rather than big, fat chunks.
From there, you’ll want to weigh the fruit using a kitchen scale. With some quick math, you then want to add half the weight in sugar. I think the oranges and lemon came in around 900 grams, so I added about 450 grams of plain white sugar.
Mix up the fruit and sugar to get everything nice and evenly coated. The sugar will help draw the juices out of the fruit, so you really want it all over.
Then pour everything into a very large jar or a pitcher. I’ve got some nice big gallon fermentation jars where I’ve just put a piece of tape over the hole where the airlock goes. (There’s no fermentation here, so you don’t have to worry about gas buildup.)
Pretty soon, if it doesn’t happen immediately, you’ll see a thick layer of sugar settle on the bottom of the jar. This is normal!
Let this jar sit on the kitchen counter for about a week. Over that time the sugar will slowly dissolve. You can speed along the process if you’d like by stirring it daily. Or, if the lid is secure, you could shake it.
Once the sugar is fully dissolved, strain the soju. I usually take a two-litre / eight-cup Pyrex glass measurer and set my mesh strainer on top. I just dump the whole thing out. I’d recommend pressing the fruit lightly with a spatula or spoon to squeeze out some extra juice and alcohol, but you don’t want to squeeze too hard because you might force some pulp through the mesh.
From there, simply bottle it up. Theoretically it can sit on the shelf for months. The sugar and alcohol would preserve everything and prevent mould or other contaminants. However, we rarely have this around for more than a week.
Because of the juice that’s pulled from the fruit you will end up with more orange soju than the original soju you had put in. The two bottles I’d put in amounted to about three cups and I got five cups of final product. This also lowers the alcohol percentage of the final drink, likely putting it somewhere around 15%.
We tend to drink this straight in small glasses, but I sometimes find it just a little too syrupy, so a quick and simple cocktail I devised is:
- 5 oz orange soju
- 2.5 oz club soda
- Mix in a glass with ice
Because I made orange soju and grapefruit soju at the same time, I varied up that cocktail a few times by making it half orange and half grapefruit. Either way, this makes the consistency thinner, the taste slightly less intense, and the whole thing becomes even more drinkable.
This soju recipe is adapted from a TikTok video by Johnny Kyung Hwo Sheldrick.
- Large jar or pitcher
- Food scale
- 720 ml Soju Soju is sold here in 360 ml bottles, so this is two bottles.
- 2 Orange
- 1 Lemon
- Slice the oranges and lemon into small pieces. I usually quarter them, then slice the quarters.
- Place a bowl on the digital scale and press the "tare" or "zero" button. Add the orange and lemon slices to get a weight for the fruit.
- Press the "tare" or "zero" button again. Add in half the weight of sugar. (If the fruit weighed 800 grams, add 400 grams of sugar.)
- Mix the fruit and sugar with a spatula or large spoon. Once well mixed, transfer the fruit and sugar to a very large jar or pitcher. I use a spatula to get as much sugar as possible from the bowl into the jar.
- Pour the soju on top and stir until well mixed.
- Cover and let sit at room temperature for approximately a week. For the first few days, a layer of sugar will likely settle on the bottom, but will slowly dissolve. You can speed up this process by stirring it daily (or shaking it if it's in a jar with a secure lid).
- Once the sugar has dissolved. Strain the soju and lightly press the fruit to extract more juice and alcohol.
- Bottle, chill, and serve. See notes below for serving suggestions.
- Orange soju can be enjoyed straight.
- If the soju is a bit too thick and syrupy for your taste, an easy cocktail is to add 5 oz orange soju and 2.5 oz club soda to a glass filled with ice. This thins out the texture a little bit and the sparkling water makes it feel a little extra special.
- If serving this with a meal, I’d suggest making this a dessert drink.