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January 10, 2013 | 12:00 a.m. CST
The soju cocktail stands out in a world of imitation drinks. Downtown Columbia’s KUI Korean BBQ is home to multiple varieties of this tasty drink.
The “bite” of the beverage comes from the soju — a traditional Korean distilled rice liquor that contains a stout 14 percent alcohol by volume. The concoction’s alcohol content is somewhere between a Jack and Coke and a screwdriver cocktail.
Where: KUI Korean BBQ, 22 N. Ninth St.
When: Mon. through Sat., 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Cost: $4.49 or $12.99
“It’s kind of like a rice vodka,” says Jean Lee, a server at the restaurant and daughter of the owners, Miki and John. Jean says a lot of people drink the cocktail because it’s similar to sake, but this beverage is always served cold.
The 16-ounce drink checks out at $4.49, and a pitcher goes for $12.99.
Quite a few flavors are available, such as plum, grape, citron honey and pineapple. Plum and pineapple are the most popular ones, Miki says. A four-set sampler is available for $9.99 if you want to try one of each.
The tan-colored beverage, served with an inch and a half of ice in a short-stemmed glass, tastes like plum sweet tea. It’s smooth and refreshing, which engages memories of Hawaiian Punch or melted red popsicles. There’s no aroma, and the alcohol is completely masked by the tea from the first sip, but with an ounce and a half of soju in every glass, you’ll definitely feel it after a couple of cocktails.
You might even be coming back for a pitcher of this cool drink for your next visit.