This Month: Remonade
Chu-Hi. For many, the word conjures an image of that one person in your group who can’t stand beer, but is more willing to party than the teetotaler (yeah, I thought it was “tea totaler” too, but I looked it up) who abstains. A wimpy drink. A “girly” drink.
But such an image dates back to the PHS days (look it up). Today’s Chu-Hi is a different breed. Varied, adventuresome, and in many cases, powerful. Like 9% and even 12% alcohol powerful. Stack that “girly drink” up to your 5% beer! Far from the old simple blend of Shochu (the “chu”) and carbonated water (as in, the “hi” from “highball”) and a little lemon syrup, there are loads of varieties from all the leading alcoholic beverage makers in Japan, and even a few from smaller companies with “craft” Chu-Hi.
In this first installment of what will be an ongoing effort to educate the world (or at least the readership of this fine publication) about various Chu-Hi choices.
Always on the lookout for a new contender, I was pleasantly surprised to come across an eye catching can design at my local convenience store. Part of what made it stand out was the very “Japanesey” aesthetic. 檸檬堂 （れもんどう、remondou, or “lemon hall”) conjures an an image of tradition and welcoming guests. I quickly grabbed a can of each of the three varieties on the shelf, made my purchase, and headed home to unlock the mysteries of these blue beauties.
定番レモン (“teiban” or classic lemon) is fairly straightforward lemon Chu-Hi. Nothing to get too excited about, or offended by either. At 5% alcohol, and with a full 10% fruit juice (which is a lot more than most competitors), it’s lemontastic!
塩レモン (“shio” or salty lemon) is a far more interesting choice. 7% alcohol and 7% fruit juice, this one really has a far more complex flavor profile. The lemon and salt work in harmony to bring a lemon-licious blast of fun to the tongue. I’ve had a number of different lemon Chu-Hi varieties over the years, and this one is certainly in the running for a favorite. Seek this out.
鬼レモン (“Oni” or demon lemon) really swings for the fences. At 9% alcohol and a full 17% real fruit juice, this one is sure to make at least one of your orifices pucker. Tart? You betcha. Sassy? Yep, with a lot of swagger. Good? Well, that depends. Personally, I found the really strong lemon a bit overwhelming.
HOWEVER, I have had some good luck mixing this with other Chu-Hi types, including a new strawberry offering by another maker, and ended up with a potent strawberry lemonade that is a great jumping off point for any budding mixologists out there.
I have also tried the too-sweet-for-its-own-good 3% alcohol Honey Lemon version. It didn’t warrant getting its photo published.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this new Chu-Hi series is the maker. Tiny print on the back of the can reveals that this is in fact the first ever alcoholic beverage offered by the Coca-Cola company. It was launched back in May 2019 in Kyushu, but is available most everywhere now, with the kind of shelf space a small start-up could only dream of.
Don’t postpone joy. Go try some Chu-Hi!
If you’d like to see the actual tasting that this review is based on, cruise on over to YouTube and search for my channel Mr. Deryk. Or go directly to: