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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Lemon Bitter (Japanese) – レモンサワー

Stage up your lemon bitter with this crisp, citrusy and critically fizzy recipe. You solely want 4 easy elements to make this tart and mildly candy Japanese shōchū highball. Plus, I’ve obtained steerage on the way to shortly chill any glass – and easy recommendation on the way to preserve the carbonation and keep away from watery cocktails. Kanpai!

Japanese Lemon Sour - レモンサワー

What’s a Lemon Bitter?

The Japanese lemon bitter (レモンサワー) is a refreshing and crisp cocktail made with shochu, recent lemon juice, soda water and typically easy syrup – served on the rocks in a highball glass. This citrusy and fizzy libation is tremendous well-liked in izakayas and bars all through Japan.

Canned variations of bitter drinks are typically branded as Chu-hi (shochu highball) – and are offered at Japanese comfort shops like 7-Eleven, FamilyMart and Lawson. I like to consider these scrumptious, colourful pop-tops from the konbini because the laborious seltzer of Japan.

Whereas impartial spirits like vodka are typically utilized in Japanese sawa drinks, the extra conventional possibility is shochu.

What’s Shōchū?

Shochu (焼酎) is a Japanese spirit distilled from rice, barley, candy potatoes or buckwheat. Much less generally, shochu might be distilled from brown sugar. It’s a pretty impartial spirit with a gentle sweetness that varies relying on the bottom elements – and is routinely loved on the rocks, neat, in highballs and in cocktails.

Japanese shochu has an ABV (alcohol by quantity) that varies from round 25-40% – which is significantly decrease than most vodka and Japanese whisky – however increased than most sake.

Soju is a Korean spirit (with an identical ABV) distilled from most of the similar base elements. You should use both one to make a lemon bitter.

Ingredients for lemon sour drink

Japanese Lemon Bitter Components

  • Lemon Juice: Use recent lemon juice. You solely want 1/2 a lemon if the lemon is pretty juicy (anyplace between 1-2 tablespoons based mostly in your desire for citrus). Purists could scoff at this, however I’ve even used recent lime juice when the lemons on the grocery retailer had been *meh*.
  • Shōchū or Soju: You should use Japanese shochu or Korean soju to make a lemon bitter. Seize no matter you favor – and what’s most available in your space. Generally you’ll hear soju known as Korean vodka. And whereas there are some variations in taste and ABV, it’s shut sufficient that you would be able to completely use vodka in a pinch.
  • Soda Water: Any membership soda works. I’ve used Topo Chico, Schweppes, plain La Croix and seltzer I made utilizing a Soda Stream. If it’s obtained a crisp style with tight bubbles, it’ll do the trick.
  • Easy Syrup: That is only a resolution of 1 half sugar dissolved into 1 half heat or sizzling water. The issue with including sugar to a chilly cocktail is that it not often dissolves absolutely. You may preserve a container of easy syrup within the fridge to make use of in cocktails, iced espresso, lemonade, and so forth. This works with refined sugar and uncooked sugar alike. Alternatively, you need to use agave syrup.
  • Ice Cubes: Any ice is ok right here. However bigger, strong cubes soften extra slowly and neutralize the fizziness of your lemon bitter much less. The ice from our fridge at residence, for instance, produces cloudy weak ice cubes that get slushy shortly. You may make extra strong ice cubes by freezing distilled water in silicone molds. However this isn’t a deal breaker. Generally protecting it easy is the way in which to go! In case you’re critically into fancy 100% clear cocktail ice, you may make it at residence with just a little work.
Juicing a lemon

Methods to Make a Lemon Bitter Cocktail

  1. First, add the lemon juice and shochu (or soju) to a tall glass.
  2. Add loads of ice cubes and stir nicely.
  3. Then add the soda water. A couple of cup ought to do it.
  4. Subsequent, add the straightforward syrup. If that is the primary time you’re making a lemon bitter at residence, add just a little bit, style – then add extra till you’re happy with the sweetness degree. In case you’re watching your sugar consumption, be at liberty to omit.
  5. Lastly, stir one to 2 mild rotations with a swizzle stick, chopstick or straw – and garnish with a slice of lemon or a lemon twist (a curl from a lemon peel). Serve instantly.

Professional Ideas

Whereas there’s no must overcomplicate issues, listed here are a pair further easy issues you are able to do to ensure your Japanese sawa is as chilly, tart and fizzy as potential.

  • Use a frosted glass. Frosting your glass signifies that your ice cubes gained’t soften as shortly and your drink will keep colder longer. To do that, merely moist a clear, room temperature collins glass with just a little water and stick it within the freezer for 30-60 minutes. Don’t use a sizzling glass recent out of the dishwasher – as the short change in temperature may cause it to crack.
  • Or chill a room temp glass with ice. Don’t wish to wait half-hour for a frosted glass? Simply cool it down with ice cubes. Fill your glass with ice cubes and stir the cubes with a protracted spoon or chopstick for not less than 30 seconds. Be certain that to pour out any water that melts previous to assembling your cocktail. Immediate chilly!
  • Freeze lemons. In case you like an excellent tart lemon bitter that gained’t get watery, use frozen lemons as an alternative of ice cubes. To do that, phase a lemon (I wish to take away the outer pores and skin solely) and put the juicy flesh within the freezer. Use the frozen lemon bits in lieu of ice. It’s tremendous recent and intensely tart!
  • Don’t overstir or shake your lemon bitter. As soon as the seltzer (soda water) is added to your glass, these bubbles gained’t stick round endlessly. And one of many major risks to your bubbles is stirring an excessive amount of. One or two rotations of a spoon or straw must be sufficient to get the job achieved – whereas protecting the lion’s share of the fizz in your cocktail.
Glass with ice cubes, lemon juice, and soju

Variations on Bitter / Sawa Cocktails in Japan

As I discussed, chuhai is principally an abbreviation of ‘shochu highball’. And there are numerous bitter variations except for the long-lasting lemon bitter. Listed below are just a few you’ll generally discover on bar and izakaya menus in Japan:

  • Apple Bitter
  • Plum Bitter
  • Calpis Bitter
  • Yuzu Bitter
  • Kabosu Bitter

However take into account that Japanese bitter drinks differ a bit from basic cocktails like a pisco bitter, amaretto bitter, whiskey bitter or a sidecar.

Lemon Sour Cocktail (レモンサワー)

My Favourite Japanese Cocktail

After I was residing and dealing as a mannequin in Japan, I obtained a facet job as a bartender. I most likely made 1000’s of lemon sours within the brief time I labored there.

What I liked most – particularly once we had been busy – was that the components was tremendous simple: shochu, recent citrus juice, soda water and (typically) just a little easy syrup. NO advanced recipe together with bitter combine, garishly pink maraschino cherry, cocktail shaker or martini glass required!

And, certain, I drank just a few as nicely – lengthy after I give up the bartending gig and my modeling portfolio grew. I liked the crisp, citrusy, effervescent refreshment on the finish of a protracted day. In reality, that’s the precise taste profile that jogs my memory most of these carefree years in Tokyo, hanging out with associates at an izakaya into the wee hours.

I hope you’re keen on this lemon bitter as a lot as I do. Kanpai!

And Verify Out These Different Simple Cocktail Recipes

Did you want this Japanese lemon bitter recipe? Are there modifications you made that you simply wish to share? Share your suggestions and proposals within the feedback part under!


Lemon Bitter (Japanese)

Japanese Lemon Sour - レモンサワー

Make this basic Japanese lemon bitter cocktail with simply 4 elements!

  • Creator: Caroline Phelps
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook dinner Time: 0 minutes
  • Complete Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
  • Class: Cocktail
  • Methodology: Combined
  • Delicacies: Japanese




  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup shōchū (or soju)
  • 1/2 cup soda water
  • 1 tablespoon easy syrup (1 tablespoon sugar combined with 1 tablespoon water)
  • Ice cubes


  1. Add lemon juice and shōchū to a tall glass.
  2. Then add ice cubes and stir.
  3. Add soda water.
  4. Slowly add the straightforward syrup and style as you go. Use extra when you favor a sweeter drink.
  5. Prime with a lemon slice and serve.


You may pre-make the straightforward syrup and preserve it readily available. Simply combine 1 half sugar with 1 half sizzling water and stir till the sugar dissolves. Chill earlier than utilizing.

Giant, clear, strong ice cubes will soften extra slowly than weak, slushy ice. To additional inhibit ice soften, use a frosted or chilly glass.


  • Serving Measurement: 1 drink
  • Energy: 146
  • Sugar: 15.7g
  • Sodium: 26.8mg
  • Fats: 0.1g
  • Saturated Fats: 0g
  • Unsaturated Fats: 0g
  • Trans Fats: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 21.3g
  • Fiber: 0.2g
  • Protein: 0.5g
  • Ldl cholesterol: 0mg

Key phrases: レモンサワー

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