Soju is a Korean alcoholic drink that should be served cold without ice. This drink is also the largest selling liquor in the world. Packaged in a classic green bottle, soju has a neutral taste similar to American vodka. If you live in Korea or drink with Koreans, you should follow the soju tradition of drinking soju. Rejecting these traditions may be considered rude by your elders or superiors. If you don't drink with Koreans, it's okay not to follow the tradition of drinking soju, but it's definitely more fun to do so! After practicing the ritual of drinking soju, you can also try some traditional games.
Method 1 of 3: Opening a Bottle
Step 1. Serve the soju chilled without any ice mixture for the best taste
Chill the bottle of soju in the refrigerator for a few hours if you're drinking alone at home. Do not add ice to the drink as soju is usually poured in a small amount and drunk straight in one gulp.
You don't have to worry about ordering a drink at a restaurant – the soju will be served cold and ready to drink
Step 2. Shake the bottle to swirl the soju inside
Hold the bottom of the soju bottle with one hand, then shake the bottle vigorously in a circular motion. You usually only need 2-3 seconds to shake the bottle so that the contents spin like a whirlpool.
- It is said that this custom comes from the past when there was still a residue of production left in the bottle. Shaking the bottle aims to bring the sediment to the top of the bottle.
- Some people prefer to shake the bottle instead of shaking it.
Step 3. Hit the bottom of the bottle with your palm before opening the bottle cap
Hold the bottom of the neck of the bottle with one hand, then use your other hand to hit the end of the bottle hard. After hitting it a few times, turn the bottle cap.
- You can also hit the bottle with your elbow instead of using your palm.
- Some people believe that the purpose of this tradition is also related to the sediment at the bottom of the bottle.
Step 4. Use your middle and index fingers to open the bottle cap
Grasp the bottom of the bottle with one hand to hold it firmly, then use the index and middle fingers of the other hand to open the bottle. You will need to exert enough force to do this so that the soju doesn't come out of the bottle as much.
- This ritual to open the bottle aims to remove the sediment trapped during the production period so that it cannot be drunk.
- Modern soju production uses an alcohol filter so that no more sediment is left behind. However, this tradition still survives today.
Method 2 of 3: Pouring and Drinking a Mouthful of Soju
Step 1. Give the oldest person in your group a chance to pour the first soju
He would pour soju into everyone's glasses. Once all the glasses are filled, someone in the group will pour the soju into the glass of the person who poured the drink first.
This tradition symbolizes respect
Step 2. Use your hands to hold the bottle as you pour the soju
When group members take turns pouring soju, each individual must always hold the bottle with both hands. This is another way of showing respect, especially when serving older people.
When it's your turn to pour your drink, don't fill the glass yourself. After you've filled someone else's glass, put the bottle down so the other person can pour the drink into yours
Step 3. Hold the glass with both hands while receiving the drink
It is also a symbol of respect. Lift your glass in the air and tilt it toward the pourer to make the process easier. Some people also lowered their heads while receiving drinks.
After everyone has enjoyed the first drink, the older person may use one hand to receive the additional drink
Step 4. Turn your face away to avoid eye contact while enjoying the first glass
Make sure you hold the glass with both hands when drinking soju. The first drink should be finished in one gulp, not slurped.
Wearing both hands while drinking is a sign of respect, while looking away is done so that you don't show your teeth – something that is considered impolite in traditional Korean culture
Step 5. Offer to fill empty glasses as needed
According to tradition, no glass should be empty and no one should drink alone. If you see an empty glass, ask if the owner of the glass wants to add to his drink. After finishing the first glass of soju, anyone can offer to pour a drink.
- Remember to use both hands when pouring drinks.
- Remember, don't fill your own glass. After pouring the first drink, remove the bottle so someone else can fill it for you (don't forget to hold the glass with both hands when someone pours you a drink).
Step 6. Sip or sip the drink after finishing the first glass
Traditionally, only the first drink should be finished in one gulp. After that, you can choose to drink or sip it.
There are many people who choose to finish their drink in one gulp because the "rubbing alcohol" taste of soju is not pleasant to sip
Step 7. Drink together to show solidarity
In Korean tradition, no one is allowed to drink alone. If you pour a drink into someone's glass, they must also pour the drink into yours. If someone offers to pour a drink into a glass, you should accept it.
Method 3 of 3: Playing while Drinking Soju
Step 1. Play the simple game “Flick the Bottle Cap” after opening a new bottle
This is one of the most popular games for drinking. After removing the cap of the soju bottle, twist the end of the seal that is attached to the bottle cap to make it more rigid. Each person must take turns flicking the bottle cap with their fingers.
The person who manages to flick the end of the bottle cap off wins; everyone who loses must drink
Step 2. Play the game “Titanic” if you want to pass the time
Fill half the drink glass with beer. Carefully place the sip glass on the surface of the beer so that it floats. Everyone has to take turns pouring soju into a gulping glass. The goal is to keep the glass afloat on the beer.
The person who makes the gulp sink is considered a loser and must drink a beer/soju mixture (known as “somek”)
Step 3. Play the game “Noonchi” if there are at least 4 people in your group
The more players who participate, the better! Whenever you want to play, just shout “noonchi game 1!” to start with. Group members will randomly take turns saying the next number until it matches the number of people in the group. For example, if there are 5 people there, they have to count to 5.
- Here's the tricky part: No one can say the same number at the same time. For example, if more than one person shouts “2” at the same time, they should all drink together.
- If your group is able to complete the count without saying either number at the same time, the person who shouts the last number should drink.
- Soju is made to be served with food. So, make sure to eat something while drinking it so you don't get too drunk.
- Use soju with a higher alcohol content in place of vodka or gin in your favorite cocktail. Try mixing it in a Bloody Mary or Screwdriver.