Learning Japanese through booze

As much alcohol as I’ve been putting away recently, it seems only fitting that this most recent post revolve around the ol’ fire water. And Japanese, of course.

The alcohol in this particular case is chuhai, and while many people know what chuhai is, not many seem to know the origin of the word. Luckily, TAKARA brand Shochu Highball — a drier, less sweet cousin of the run-of-the-mill chuhai — has provided a mini history lesson right there on the side of the can. Enjoy.

チューハイの原点。

チューハイは戦後まもない昭和20年代の東京下町で「焼酎ハイボール」として生まれたといわれています。「ハイボール」とはお酒の炭酸割りのこと。焼酎を炭酸で割ったから「焼酎ハイボール」。これを短くして「酎ハイ」と呼ばれたのが語源のようです。東京下町の大衆酒場では今でも大人気の飲み物です。

The Origin of Chuhai.

It’s said that chuhai originated in the 1940s shortly after the war, in Tokyo’s Shitamachi area, as the “shochu highball.” “Highball” referred to alcohol mixed with carbonated water. Because the carbonated water had been mixed with shochu, the drink was known as a “shochu highball.” This was shortened to “chuhai,” which would seem to be the origin of the word. To this day, the drink remains popular in Tokyo’s Shitamachi watering holes.

Good stuff, huh? Good. Now get drankin’.

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2 Responses

  1. Nice.

    A highball is anything with a relatively large ratio of mixer to liquor. Maybe all the Japanese knew back then was liquor and soda water… Most bartenders here seem not to know the difference between a highball and lowball glass…

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