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What Can I Substitute for Soju in Cocktails?

What Can I Substitute for Soju?

When it comes to finding a substitute for Soju, there are several options available.

Some suitable alternatives include vodka, gin, rice wine, sherry, unsweetened apple juice, shochu, fruit wine, makkoli (fermented rice wine), sake, whiskey, tequila, rum, non-alcoholic wine, broth, vinegar, and grape juice.

These options vary in taste and characteristics but can be used as substitutes to provide similar effects and flavors as Soju.

Quick Tips and Facts:

1. Did you Know? In South Korea, if you’re looking for a substitute for soju – a popular distilled alcoholic beverage – you can try “Ddongsoju,” which translates to “poop soju!” Despite its unappealing name, Ddongsoju is made from fermented rice, just like traditional soju.

2. Surprisingly, Japan has its own version of soju called “shochu,” which is often made from sweet potatoes, rice, or barley. Although similar in production and alcohol content to soju, shochu has a distinct flavor and is a popular alternative in Japan.

3. If you’re searching for a non-alcoholic substitute for soju, look no further than Korean “Bokbunja” juice. Made from a raspberry-like fruit called “bokbunja,” this sweet and tangy juice provides a similar fruity taste to soju without the alcohol content.

4. Interestingly, if you run out of soju and need a quick substitute, you can turn to a traditional Korean rice wine called “makgeolli.” With a milky appearance and a slightly sweet and sour taste, makgeolli provides a unique alternative to soju and is widely enjoyed in Korea.

5. If you prefer a more global twist, you can swap soju for “Cachaça,” a Brazilian distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice. Although cachaça has a stronger and more robust flavor than soju, it can still be a fascinating substitute to explore.


Vodka is a versatile substitute for soju in cocktails. It is a clear and neutral spirit, making it ideal for blending with other flavors without overpowering them. Similar in alcohol content to soju, vodka is an excellent alternative choice. Whether you’re making a classic soju-based cocktail or experimenting with new flavors, vodka proves to be a reliable option.

When using vodka as a substitute for soju, note that it may lack the sweetness and floral notes typically found in soju. To enhance the taste profile of your cocktail, consider adding a hint of simple syrup or a flavored liqueur. This will help compensate for any flavor disparity. Additionally, adjust the proportions slightly to achieve the desired balance that suits your preference.

To summarize:

  • Vodka is a versatile substitute for soju in cocktails
  • It is a clear and neutral spirit that easily blends with other flavors without overpowering them
  • Vodka has a similar alcohol content to soju, making it an excellent alternative choice
  • When using vodka as a substitute, consider adding simple syrup or flavored liqueur to enhance the taste profile
  • Adjusting the proportions slightly can help achieve the desired balance


Gin can be a fantastic alternative to soju in cocktails. It offers similar qualities, like botanical flavors and a smooth texture. However, gin has a unique flavor profile due to its main ingredient, juniper berries.

When substituting gin for soju, it’s crucial to consider the flavor profiles and select a gin that complements the other components of your cocktail. For instance, a floral or citrus-forward gin is ideal for creating light and refreshing soju-based cocktails. On the other hand, a stronger and more herbaceous gin can enhance cocktails with intricate flavors.

Rice Wine

Rice wine, also known as sake, is a natural substitute for soju due to its similar base ingredient of rice. Rice wine offers a delicate and slightly sweet flavor profile, which makes it an excellent alternative for those who appreciate the smoothness of soju.

When substituting rice wine for soju, it is important to consider that the alcohol content of sake may vary. Soju typically contains a higher alcohol content than sake, so you may need to adjust the proportions in your cocktail accordingly. To explore different flavor profiles and find the ideal match for your cocktail recipe, it is recommended to experiment with various types of sake, such as Junmai or Ginjo.


Sherry is a fascinating substitute for soju in cocktails, offering a unique twist. This fortified wine comes in various styles, from dry to sweet. The diverse flavors of sherry can bring depth and richness to your cocktails, making it an excellent choice for more sophisticated drinks.

When substituting soju with sherry, it’s important to consider the style and intensity of the sherry. Here are some tips:

  • Fino or Manzanilla sherry: These dry and crisp styles work well in lighter soju-based cocktails.

  • Oloroso or Pedro Ximénez sherry: These sweeter profiles add richness and complexity to bolder cocktails.

Experiment with different types of sherry in your cocktails to create unique and delicious flavor combinations.

Note: Sherry is a fortified wine that can bring depth and richness to cocktails. When substituting soju with sherry, it’s important to consider the style and intensity of the sherry. Fino or Manzanilla sherry work well in lighter soju-based cocktails, while Oloroso or Pedro Ximénez sherry add richness and complexity to bolder cocktails. Try different styles of sherry to discover new flavor combinations.

Unsweetened Apple Juice

Unsweetened apple juice is a non-alcoholic substitute for soju in cocktails that provides a fruity and refreshing base. It imparts a natural sweetness and subtle apple flavor that can be balanced with other ingredients to create well-rounded cocktails.

When using unsweetened apple juice as a substitute, you may need to adjust the flavor profile of your cocktail by incorporating additional ingredients. Consider adding a splash of citrus juice or a flavored syrup to enhance the overall taste. Experiment with different apple varieties, such as Granny Smith or Fuji, to find the perfect balance of tartness and sweetness.


Shochu is a traditional Japanese distilled spirit that can serve as a suitable substitute for soju in cocktails. Like soju, shochu is often made from rice, although it can also be produced from other ingredients such as barley or sweet potatoes. Shochu has a similar alcohol content, making it an excellent replacement in terms of strength.

Using shochu as a substitute for soju allows you to explore new flavors and expand your cocktail repertoire. It has a distinctive earthy and nutty flavor profile, which can add depth to your creations. Experiment with different types of shochu, such as barley or sweet potato, to discover unique flavor combinations that complement the rest of your cocktail ingredients.

In conclusion, when looking for substitutes for soju in cocktails, there are several options to consider. Vodka, gin, rice wine (sake), sherry, unsweetened apple juice, and shochu are just a few alternatives that can be used creatively to achieve a similar experience. Each substitute brings its own unique flavors and characteristics, allowing you to experiment and create exciting new cocktails. Remember to adjust the proportions and ingredients according to your taste preferences and the specific substitute you choose.

Cheers to exploring new flavors and enjoying delicious cocktails!

Frequently Asked Questions

What drink is similar to soju?

One drink that is similar to soju is sake. Sake, also known as rice wine, is a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage. Like soju, it is also made from rice and has a relatively low alcohol content, usually ranging between 15 and 20 percent ABV. Sake and soju are both popular choices in Asian cuisine and can be enjoyed on their own or used as mixers in various cocktails. However, while they share similarities, each drink has its distinctive flavor profile and cultural significance.

What alcohol is soju most similar to?

Soju, a clear and colorless alcohol, can be compared to the characteristics of vodka. However, what sets soju apart is its sweeter taste, attributed to the addition of sugars during production. With its high alcoholic content typically ranging between 16 – 45%, soju packs quite a punch, making it a cautionary choice for those with a low alcohol tolerance.

What is soju closest to?

Soju can be seen as closest to vodka in terms of its neutral taste, but its lower alcohol content gives it a distinct advantage with a less harsh aftertaste. While Koreans typically enjoy soju with a meal, American bartenders have embraced it as a substitute for vodka in mixed drinks. Thus, soju’s similarity to vodka is evident, yet its unique qualities make it a versatile choice for creative cocktail concoctions.

What tastes like soju?

Soju, a popular Korean alcoholic beverage, offers a unique taste that can be compared to a cross between vodka and rice wine. Its flavor profile is often described as smooth and clean, with subtle hints of sweetness. While it shares some similarities with vodka, soju has a milder alcohol burn due to its lower alcohol content. This versatile drink can be enjoyed on its own, paired with various Korean dishes, or used as a base for creative cocktails. Its rising popularity worldwide attests to its ability to satisfy different palates and enhance culinary experiences.

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