I’ve been in the blogosphere for almost 5 years and today I present you a first. My first guest post. Brother C has been drinking along with Meg and I. We’ve been comparing drinks and swapping cocktails for ages. Now with my lack of supply, and truthfully, lack of energy or time, I’ve strong armed him into officially drinking in my place this week.
Hey Lula, so’d you find you Soju?
A long, long time ago, as Lula and I had dinner with friends at a tapas joint in San Francisco, the conversation turned to “things people consume in other countries.” My guest that evening was J, an Air Force A1C recently back from Osan AB, Korea. They call that a hardship tour. Lula’s guests were horrified by what they heard J describe of the Korean cuisine. I think dinner might have ended prematurely. And we never even talked about soju.
Flashback to two days earlier…
I picked up J at the airport and brought him back to my apartment. Within minutes J’s duffel was open and he was in the kitchen making drinks. He called them “white dogs.” Apparently they are so popular amongst the troops that we keep sitting just south of the 38th Parallel, waiting for Kim-Il Somebody-or-Other to do something stupid. Wow, that was actually two whole Kims ago! How time flies.
Let’s be completely honest here. The basis for this chemistry experiment is the cheap local swill consumed to excess by off-duty twenty-something kids who miss their families and spend their time on duty facing down a cult of personality with nuclear weapons. You know, something just to take the edge off. For cheap. We are not drinking Gangnam-style here.
The ingredients in a white dog basically consist of soju, lemon-lime soda, and Korean yogurt beverage. The last item is probably unfamiliar to most Americans, but like soju, it is a wildly popular beverage in Korea. It is a dairy product, actually more milk than yogurt, commonly sold in packages of small plastic bottles each just 2 or 3 ounces. It is helpful to live near a Korean grocery.
You’ll have to take my word for it, the yogurt tastes better than it looks. It is available in a number of different flavors, so whether lychee-mango is your style, or you’re a strict traditionalist, there is a breed of white dog just for you.
Any American lemon-lime soda is a perfectly reasonable choice, but while you’re at the Korean grocery picking up yogurt that you’ve never heard of before, you might as well try Chilsung Cider, a Korean lemon-lime soda that you’ve also never heard of before. With apologies to Psy, this is in fact K-Pop.
The ratio of lemon-lime soda to yogurt is about 3:1, with soju basically added to taste (or effect, if you prefer). You can add a splash of orange juice if you like. Preparation does not necessarily require ice, particularly if the ingredients are pre-chilled. The mixing glass may double as drinkware if you assemble the ingredients in an empty plastic Coke bottle. White dogs are made to travel. Which brings me to first impressions. Many will say that the white dog doesn’t really taste like anything, but to my palate, it is reminiscent of a Creamsicle. Sweet and creamy with notes of citrus.
If you find a recipe for white dogs on the Internet, it is almost certainly (A) lacking in specifics, and (B) in a quantity serving 8. If you want to class it up and drink like an adult, here is how you can make a single serving at a reasonable strength:
White Dog (litter of one)
Stir together chilled ingredients in a double old-fashioned glass:
3 oz Jinro 24 soju
4 oz Chilsung Cider (or Sprite)
1.5 oz Korean yogurt
splash of orange juice (optional)
Taste-Off: Jinro 24 vs Ty-Ku
Jinro 24 ($8.99/750 ml) is the best-selling spirit brand worldwide, outselling Smirnoff vodka by better than 2:1. Well chilled, as dictated by tradition, it is neutral and nearly flavorless. The nose is your alcohol evaporating. Drink up before it’s gone. 48 proof.
Ty-Ku ($27.99/750 ml) is a Japanese-made super-premium soju that I picked up because it comes in a pretty package that looks like a perfume bottle. (Alas, this is not blue glass, rather a blue plastic shrink-wrapped label on a clear glass bottle.) Unique and suitable for sipping, especially chilled. Just a tease of sweetness, and sake on the palate; the nose has hints of merlot. 40 proof.
Thanks for stepping up and carrying the torch for me this week! All I remember from that dinner, all those years ago, was that was my very first sangria. It was clearly memorable!
Brother C threw in another bonus bit of reading for us. An interesting article from Slate about Soju. Worth a gander. Let’s show him some props y’all. Thanks for stepping up to the bar for your little sister.
A creamsicle cocktail to kick our week off! Cheers and here’s another Toast to Tuesday!