The Drink: Roasted Corn and Leek Infused Soju
Price: $20 for a bottle
Where To Get It: Mandu, 453 K St. NW and 1805 18th St. NW; mandudc.com
What It Is: Charm Soju Liquor infused with roasted corn and leeks. Beverage Manager Phil Anova coats ears of corn with butter, honey, salt, pepper, onion powder, and nutmeg before wrapping them in foil and throwing them on the grill. Once tender, he releases the corn from their aluminum cages and tosses them back on the grill to kiss the kernels with flames and caramelize the honey. He then scrapes off the kernels and adds them to the soju, along with a disk of sliced leek. The sweet and savory potion is infused for about three days before it’s strained and bottled.
What It Tastes Like: Anova is the first to admit it tastes like creamed corn. “I look at food I like to eat and find a way to make it into a drink,” he says. The grill imparts a slightly smoky, charred flavor. The leeks are barely perceptible, though their savory quality cuts through some of the sweetness of the honeyed corn. Texture is as important as flavor with this soju. It’s milky and viscous, much like an unfiltered sake, and it coats the inside of your cheeks before it goes down.
The Story: Anova first experimented with soju infusions during Mandu’s street food pop-up series, Anju. He played it safe with cucumber back then, but now he’s far more experimental. His summer iteration featured watermelon and feta, and he’s planning something equally outside-the-box for winter, though expect the sweet and savory theme to continue.
Photo by Laura Hayes