Not to be confused with its Japanese cousin shochu, soju is a Korean distilled spirit that can be made from rice or sweet potatoes. Its transparency and lack of aroma mean it's sometimes compared to vodka. Introduced from China in the late 13th century, soju is now mass-produced in Korea and is widely drunk. Traditionally, it was enjoyed with food, but it can be served straight, on the rocks or, increasingly in Japan and the US, as a cocktail. At 25 to 35 per cent alcohol, soju is stronger than beer (which is 4 to 5 per cent) and wine (about 13 per cent), but gentler as a mixer than vodka, which is usually 40 per cent.