alcohol

Kimchi cocktail offers a taste of Korea that no Korean would actually endorse

Kimchi cocktail offers a taste of Korea that no Korean would actually endorse

You’ve probably heard of a Bloody Mary, a popular cocktail with a base of vodka and tomato juice, plus a host of other weird and wonderful flavourings such as Worcestershire or Tabasco sauce, horseradish, celery, pepper, salt, lemon juice, and so on. It may not sound appetizing but it has plenty of devotees, although that may be more to do with its reputation as a ‘hair of the dog’ hangover cure rather than its taste. But if you’re feeling adventurous, why not try the even more exotic flavours of a spicy Korean kimchi version?

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Suntory’s awesome miniature ice versions of the Golden Pavilion, Statue of Liberty and more

Suntory’s awesome miniature ice versions of the Golden Pavilion, Statue of Liberty and more

Although I’m a man who can definitely appreciate the simple joys of knocking back a can of tasty beer in my living room, every now and again it’s nice to treat yourself to a drink at a classy bar. You know, the kind with soft lighting, a gleaming wooden bar top, and a vested bartender with an ice pick working a block into a classy orb to place in your glass of whiskey.

But as impressive as a nicely rounded sphere of ice may be, it can’t hope to match the visual impact of an ice version of Japan’s famous Golden Pavilion or the Statue of Liberty that you can drop in your glass.

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We try Wazen, Suntory’s new beer specially designed to drink with Japanese food

We try Wazen, Suntory’s new beer specially designed to drink with Japanese food

Eating and drinking are two of our favorite necessary life functions, since they’re both so much more fun than sleeping and breathing. So when we heard, back in January, about a new beer from Suntory that’s specially designed to go well with Japanese food, our three months of anxious waiting until it was scheduled to go on sale started right away.

Well, spring is finally here, and we’ve just recently experienced the joys of stepping outside without an overcoat and admiring the cherry blossoms, so now it’s time for the last item on our checklist of vernal pleasures, as we sample a can of Suntory’s new Japan-centric brew, the all-malt Wazen.

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Dirt cheap all-you-can-drink sake sampler in Tokyo saves us money plus a trip to Akita

Dirt cheap all-you-can-drink sake sampler in Tokyo saves us money plus a trip to Akita

Sake is often referred to as “rice wine.” Some would argue the term is misleading, since unlike wine, sake is brewed, but Japan’s traditional spirit does have something in common with the world’s favorite grape-based alcoholic beverage. As with wine, depending on the ingredients and exact production process, two different types of sake can have very different flavors.

This can make searching for one that suits your palate a complex, if not unpleasant, task. There’s also the fact that most of Japan’s best-tasting sake is produced far outside of its major urban centers, which is why we were surprised and thrilled to find a restaurant in downtown Tokyo offering a sampler of sake from distant Akita Prefecture for just 500 yen (US$4.90). Our excitement only grew when we found out that the deal is also all you can drink.

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Food, hard liquor, and guns all on the menu at Tokyo’s airsoft bar

Food, hard liquor, and guns all on the menu at Tokyo’s airsoft bar

When you want to blow off steam, there’s nothing like blowing something away, which partly explains why Japan’s interest in airsoft guns, which fire BB-like ammunition, continues to grow. But even though work is a major source of stress, most people don’t have the time to drive out to one of Japan’s rural airsoft fields (or catch a plane to the awesome urban set-up in Korea) after their shift ends.

Thankfully, though, there’s a way for Japanese professionals who’ve had a rough day at the office to fire off a couple rounds without putting a hole in their living room wall, as we found out at a Tokyo restaurant with its own airsoft shooting range.

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Final Fantasy café puts spirits within you with materia cocktails, chocolate buster swords

Final Fantasy café puts spirits within you with materia cocktails, chocolate buster swords

With well over 20 years since the original Final Fantasy was released, everyone who was old enough to enjoy developer Square Enix’s hugely successful video game franchise from the very start is legally old enough to drink in Japan. So when we heard tale of a realm/café run by the company, called Artnia, where we could combine our passions for role-playing games and alcoholic beverages, we were intrigued, and when rumors reached us of chocolate buster swords, we were out the door.

Our journey took us through pitch black tunnels, subterranean cities, and secluded forests, but we persevered, and have returned to tell all of our adventures.

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Man learns lesson the hard way, wakes up on train tracks with severed leg

Man learns lesson the hard way, wakes up on train tracks with severed leg

We’ve all woken up with a bad hangover and little to no memory of the night before. A few drinks with friends is a great way to unwind after work, and if a little of something is good, then a lot of something must be great, right?

Well, when it comes to alcohol, we suppose that depends on how much is a lot, but for one Saga Prefecture gentleman, it turns out that a lot was far too much. The government employee apparently fell off of a train platform and landed on the tracks, where he lay for six hours. Unfortunately, when he woke up, a pounding headache was the least of his worries.

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We check out Patlabor’s giant robot, plus cosplayers and anime booze galore, at Anime Japan

We check out Patlabor’s giant robot, plus cosplayers and anime booze galore, at Anime Japan

Last weekend the Tokyo Big Site convention center hosted the inaugural Japan Anime animation exposition, which combines the previously separately held Tokyo International Anime Fair and Anime Contents Expo.

We were drawn to the show by the promise of being able to see the giant Ingram robot being used in the upcoming live-action Patlabor motion picture with our own eyes, so we headed for Big Site and dove headfirst into the crowd of fans and exhibitors, where aside from giant robots we found amazing cosplayers and anime-themed edibles, not to mention hordes of ravenous anime song idol fans.

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Ultraman pub lets you get ultra-full and ultra-drunk while having ultra fun

Ultraman pub lets you get ultra-full and ultra-drunk while having ultra fun

Among the many Japanese tales of heroes of justice battling giant monsters, Ultraman may just be the most popular. Since its television debut in 1966, hardly a year has gone by without a new Ultraman TV series or motion picture.

The franchise’s longevity means that many long-time fans who started watching when they were young kids are now full-grown adults. On the one hand, growing up means more responsibility, but it also means more freedom, including the freedom to knock back a few cold beers at a new dining and drinking establishment where Ultraman’s monstrous foes take center stage.

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“RAAA”: The most appropriate name for a habanero pepper-flavored 34 percent alcohol drink

“RAAA”: The most appropriate name for a habanero pepper-flavored 34 percent alcohol drink

Hombo Shuzo is a prestigious distiller founded in 1872 in Kagoshima Prefecture, the birthplace of one of Japan’s most beloved drinks: shochu. The company had won several medals at last year’s International Wine and Spirit Competition including a gold medal for their exquisitely smooth one-year-old Arawaza Sakurajima.

And to celebrate, this distinguished group has released perhaps their classiest drink to date. It’s an imo shochu (sweet potato shochu) with a thick bouquet of one of the world’s spiciest peppers, the habanero, and it’s name is Satsuma No Haoh RAAA.

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Horror bar Sacrifice has spirits of both the haunting and drinkable kinds

Horror bar Sacrifice has spirits of both the haunting and drinkable kinds

I’ve never fully understood the appeal of horror movies. After all, what’s the point in paying good money for something that’s going to make you want to pee your pants? On the other hand, purchasing beer always seems like a wise financial decision, despite its similar bladder-assaulting properties. Now, there’s a place where both fright fiends and fans of fermented barley can get their fix, the horror bar Sacrifice.

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Japanese sangria is the most refreshing drink you’ll have all week【Recipe】

Japanese sangria is the most refreshing drink you’ll have all week【Recipe】

At RocketNews24, we’re all about strange alcoholic drinks. But this next one isn’t exactly strange; we’d call it peculiar. The classic Japanese rice wine beverage, nihon-shu, otherwise known as “sake” in English, is given a fun and fruity twist. There are very few drink recipes with nihon-shu as a base, but this one is refreshing and totally easy to drink. Try out this super simple recipe for what we like to call “Japanese sangria” and enjoy a flavor infusion of a traditional Japanese alcohol.

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Saitama cafe offers outdoor baths, books, beer, massages, hammocks, and no reason to leave

Saitama cafe offers outdoor baths, books, beer, massages, hammocks, and no reason to leave

The basic idea of going to a cafe is that it’s a place to relax for an hour or so. You can sit down and have a cup of coffee, but eventually you’re going to get hungry, smelly, or sleepy. Sooner or later you’ll need to leave and go somewhere else for a real meal, hot bath, and good night’s sleep.

Unless, of course, you stop by a unique cafe in Saitama Prefecture, which not only has luxurious Japanese-style bathing facilities, but just about everything you need for a comfortable lifestyle.

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Let’s toast to our feline friends — Five cute and tasty cat-themed alcoholic drinks

Let’s toast to our feline friends — Five cute and tasty cat-themed alcoholic drinks

Annual Cat Day may be over, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop celebrating all things feline, does it? That’s right, as fond as we are of cats, we don’t really need a reason to express our affection for our feline friends, and in that spirit, some of the lovely reporters at our sister site Pouch decided to get together and come up with a list of the best cat-themed alcoholic drinks around. Cats and alcohol, now that sounds like a dangerously attractive combination!

To get their hands on some of the fun and tasty cat-themed drinks out there, our reporters used the services of major Japanese online liquor distributor Kakuyasu. Let’s see what their top five pics were.

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“One coin” sake theme park will make you feel like a (drunken) kid again

“One coin” sake theme park will make you feel like a (drunken) kid again

Sake (or nihonshu in Japanese) is Japan’s most famous native alcoholic beverage and once was the reigning king of alcohol sales in Japan. Since, the drink has fallen by the wayside as the bubbly, utterly delicious and infallible – says this totally unbiased author – beverage known as beer steamrolled in, flattening the competition even as wine and certain types of spirits agreeable to the Japanese palate also came around to swipe a piece of the pie. 

But if this Niigata sake theme park, where visitors can purchase a cup of sake for just 100 yen, has anything to say about it, sake sales may just find themselves back on top again, as the already much-talked about spot seems poised to explode in popularity, thanks in no small part, of course, to this RocketNews24 article you’re reading right now.

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Bar with all-you-can drink beer and sake + no time limit = limitless bliss

Bar with all-you-can drink beer and sake + no time limit = limitless bliss

In my time in Japan, I’ve been asked to leave numerous drinking establishments. Don’t get the wrong idea, though. It wasn’t because I was causing a disturbance (well, except for that one time in college), or because I was charming all the women and not leaving any for the other male customers (well, except for….wait, no, that really didn’t ever happen).

The polite requests for me to exit bars come from the wonderful system called nomi hodai, where you pay a flat fee and are served as much booze as you like. The standard time limit is two hours, although some places have budget priced 90-minute plans, and others are more generous with three-hour deals. It’s always a downer when the wait staff tells you your time’s up, but after all, they have to cut the customers off at some point, right?

Not at a new bar in Tokyo, where paying the entrance fee gets you an unlimited amount of sake and beer with no time limit.

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Somehow, underage drinking in Japan is about to get even easier

Somehow, underage drinking in Japan is about to get even easier

I’ve never been bothered by being asked for proof of age when buying beer. Maybe it’s because even when I was 16 I apparently already looked old enough that strangers in convenience store parking lots would ask me to buy a six pack for them, but I never took a clerk asking to see my ID as an insult. I simply accepted it as part of the societal dance necessary to procure my beloved barley juice.

Some drinkers in Japan, though, take offense at being asked for proof that they’re not minors. The Aeon Group, one of Japan’s largest retailers, has responded with a generous change in policy, and will no longer ask certain customers for confirmation of age, despite the fact that Japan’s underage drinking prevention is already ridiculously easy to circumvent.

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Mint chocolate beer sounds great, but how does it taste? We find out

Mint chocolate beer sounds great, but how does it taste? We find out

Every year at Valentine’s Day, a slew of limited-edition chocolates are rolled out in Japan, where following the local custom, women give gifts to men. Unfortunately, while there are indeed plenty of guys with a sweet tooth, few of them really want candies shaped like butterflies and rosebuds.

Thankfully, there are a handful of more masculine alternatives, such as the Final Fantasy chocolates we recently introduced you to. But you know what’s even more manly than a video game about a dude killing monsters with a giant sword while his hot martial artist girlfriend cheers him on? Booze. Which is why today we’re knocking back a mint chocolate beer.

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Foreign residents pick their favorite snacks to pair with Japanese beer

Foreign residents pick their favorite snacks to pair with Japanese beer

A few years ago, I was hanging out with a friend in Tokyo. Being recently married meant that for the first time in several years I was living in an apartment more spacious and comfortable than a bunker, and I invited my buddy back to my place for a beer.

I called my wife to give her a heads-up that I was bringing home a guest, and when we arrived, I was surprised to see she’d gone down the block to the store and picked up a selection of snacks for our impromptu drinking session. In hindsight, this really shouldn’t have been so unexpected, as beer is almost always accompanied by food in Japan.

Our memories are a little hazy, but we seem to remember being taught, “When in Rome, drink as the Romans.” Taking this to heart, recently a group of foreign residents in Japan shared their favorite munchies to pair with Japanese beer.

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Burger King has apple burgers (and cocktails) in Japan, and we’ve got them in our bellies

Burger King has apple burgers (and cocktails) in Japan, and we’ve got them in our bellies

Even as someone who can always appreciate a tasty hamburger, there’s a quandary I face whenever I go out to satisfy my beef-based sandwich needs. Your standard burger gives you plenty of protein from the meat, some nice carbs from the bread, and even a scattering of veggies between the buns, but it’s hard to get your fruit fix at a burger emporium.

Or, more accurately, it was, until Burger King Japan started offering two hamburgers with slices of grilled apple. We traveled to one of Burger King’s branches in Yokohama to try both on the day of their release, but they weren’t the only discoveries waiting for us. So come along with us as we present the ABCs (apples, booze, and couches) that make Burger King different in Japan.

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