Low-ABV Cocktail: The Oolong High with Oolong tea, soju, lemon, and cane sugar; $13
“To be honest, we don’t have a hard liquor license,” says Suhum Jang, the General Manager and part-owner of Hortus. Without the hard stuff, the Asian fusion restaurant relies on soju for its low-ABV cocktail menu.
Soju, a clear Korean liquor, has a taste similar to vodka; accordingly, sojus can have as much alcohol by volume as their Russian counterparts. Many distilleries dilute their sojus, though, putting the spirits well within the beer-and-wine license limit.
“The soju we’re using here is coming from a distillery,” says Jang. “It has a unique flavor compared to what we used to drink in Koreatown.”
By creating soju cocktails with Asian ingredients like oolong tea and yuzu, Hortus offers a chance for New Yorkers to get to know the Korean spirit outside of shots at karaoke bars.
Starting at $10 a drink, you can make your way through the entire cocktail menu for less than a hundred bucks -- but you risk getting a sugar high before you get drunk. Still, Jang claims he prefers not having a hard liquor license.
“If I have a full liquor license, people will get distracted,” he says. “They’ll get confused. I want to focus on selling wine by the glass, beer, and soju cocktails.”