With the heatwave showing no sign of abating, fruity refreshing cocktails and effective air conditioning are very much in season, and both can be enjoyed at Roka in Pacific Place. The bar does a brisk trade in vodka martinis, but as you would expect in a robatayaki restaurant, many of its cocktails are Japanese-inspired and have either a sake or a shochu base. Sake is now a weapon in the armoury of many mixologists and the Saketini, in particular, has a loyal following. But I was surprised to find shochu on display behind the bar. Apparently, I am behind the times. It is many years since I drank the stuff and my understanding was always that it was a cheap local substitute for expensive imported spirits, as was soju in South Korea. Those who could afford whisky or cognac drank that. Those who could not drank shochu. Shochu has become fashionable in Japan over the past 10 years or so and people drink it out of preference rather than as a cheap substitute. Shochu bars are now fashionable rendezvous places rather than local dives, and the quality of the drink itself has risen. Certainly, the price has gone up. Premium brands are widely available in Japan, and now also here, and it is possible to pay about the same for quality shochu as for premium gins and vodkas. One of Roka's most popular orders is its signature shochu-based cocktail, the Ichigo, which, assistant manager Bryan van den Berg explains, is Japanese for strawberry. "This was created to be a summer cocktail with a lot of fresh fruits. It is a good start to the evening, but we find a lot of people like to end the night with it," he says. All the alcohol is Japanese, and although Van den Berg says Roka does not insist on any particular brand of shochu or plum wine, he does stress that both need to be of good quality. It is important that the shochu be made from barley rather than sweet potato or rice, both of which are more strongly flavoured and tend to overpower the fruit. The cocktail is served ungarnished in a martini glass, and is pleasantly refreshing with an attractive but not cloying touch of sweetness. Ingredients Half a kiwi fruit 2 fresh strawberries 25ml pineapple purée 25ml barley shochu 25ml plum wine 50ml lemon grass syrup 20ml lemon juice In a shaker, muddle the kiwi fruit and the strawberries. Add the pineapple purée, shochu, plum wine, lemon grass syrup and lemon juice. Shake vigorously to produce a froth, strain into a chilled martini glass, allowing the muddled fruit to remain in the drink and serve.