3 Ways to Drink Soju

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3 Ways to Drink Soju
3 Ways to Drink Soju

Soju is a traditional Korean drink that should be served chilled and straight (no ice) and is the world's best-selling alcoholic beverage. It comes in a classic green bottle, has a neutral flavor and is a bit like vodka. If you are visiting Korea or in the company of Koreans, follow the ritual traditions of sharing soju. If you ignore these traditions, you will appear rude in the eyes of elders and higher-ranking people. If there's no Korean around, it's okay not to follow the ritual, but it's fun anyway! Once you understand how it works, try making drinking games too.


Method 1 of 3: Opening the Bottle

Drink Soju Step 1

Step 1. Serve the soju chilled and free of ice to enjoy the flavor

Allow the bottle to freeze for a few hours if drinking at home. Do not add ice, as it is usually served in a portion and undiluted.

You don't have to worry about this if you order a drink at a restaurant. It will come out cold and ready to drink

Drink Soju Step 2

Step 2. Shake the bottle to swirl inside

Hold the soju bottle near the bottom with one hand and swing it in a strong circular motion. It takes two or three seconds to create a swirl with the drink inside the bottle.

  • They say people do this because, in the old days, sediment was put into the bottles during production and swirling it would make the sediment come to the top.
  • Some people prefer to shake rather than swirl.
Drink Soju Step 3

Step 3. Tap the bottom of the bottle with the palm of your hand before opening the cap

Hold the thinnest part of the bottle with one hand and use the other hand to hit the bottom, willingly. After slapping, open the lid.

  • You can also hit the bottom with your elbow instead of using your palm.
  • Some say that people do this because it breaks down the sediment in the bottle.
Drink Soju Step 4

Step 4. Take your index finger away from your middle finger and tap their joint against the neck of the bottle

Grasp the bottle from the bottom with one hand to hold it steady and use the part between your index and middle fingers in the other hand to tap the neck of the bottle. Do this with enough force to have some soju spill out of the bottle.

  • This part of the ritual is done to remove the sediment that was deposited during production so that no one drinks it.
  • Soju factories now filter the alcohol, so sediment is no longer a problem. Even so, the tradition was maintained in Korea.

Method 2 of 3: Serving and Drinking Servings

Drink Soju Step 5

Step 1. Ask the oldest person in the group to serve the first serving of soju

She will put a dose into the cup of each person at the table. Once everyone is served, another member of the group will use both hands to serve the oldest person.

This represents respect

Drink Soju Step 6

Step 2. Serve the doses by holding the bottle with both hands

Group members will take turns serving the shots to each other and everyone must use both hands to hold the bottle. This is another way to show respect, especially when serving the elderly.

If you are going to serve the drink, don't serve your own glass. Once everyone has their shots, put the bottle on the table so someone can pour yours

Drink Soju Step 7

Step 3. Hold the dose cup with both hands while they serve you

This is also a symbol of respect. Lift the glass and hold it towards the person serving to facilitate. Some people choose to bow their heads when receiving the drink as well.

After the first round is served, older people can use one hand only when receiving the next shots

Drink Soju Step 8

Step 4. Turn your head to avoid making eye contact while drinking the first dose

Don't forget to hold your body with both hands while drinking. The first round should be taken like a shot, not sips.

Using both hands when drinking is a sign of respect and turning your head away from others is not showing your teeth, which can be seen as a lack of respect in traditional Korean culture

Drink Soju Step 9

Step 5. Offer to fill empty cups if needed

Tradition says that no glass can be empty and no one should drink alone. If you notice someone's glass is empty, ask if they want another shot. After the first round, everyone can offer to fill the cups.

  • Remember to always use both hands when serving soju.
  • Don't forget not to serve your own glass. After you've placed doses for everyone, put the bottle on the table for someone else to serve you. Hold your body with both hands as the person fills your glass.
Drink Soju Step 10

Step 6. After the first round, turn or sip the drink

Tradition dictates that the first round be taken as a shot, but leaves the others free. Sip or turn the drink, whichever you prefer.

Many people prefer to keep turning the glass because the alcoholic taste of soju is not very pleasant to sip

Drink Soju Step 11

Step 7. Drink together to show solidarity

In Korean tradition, no one should drink alone. If you pour someone another shot, they should pour you one too. If someone offers a dose first, always accept.

Method 3 of 3: Soju Drinking Games

Drink Soju Step 12

Step 1. Play “turn the cap” after opening a new bottle

This is one of the most popular games with soju. After opening the bottle, turn the tip of the closure to make it firmer. People at the table should try to turn this piece with their fingers, one at a time.

The person who flips the lid sells the game and everyone else has to drink

Step 2. Play Titanic if you want to pass the time

Fill half a regular glass of beer. Place the shot glass in the beer so that it stays afloat. Each participant must pour some soju into the shot glass. The objective is to keep the glass afloat.

The person who sinks the glass loses and has to drink the beer-soju mixture (known as somek)

Drink Soju Step 14

Step 3. Play “Noonchi” if you are in four or more people

The more players the better! Start yelling "noonchi game 1!" to start. From there, participants must take turns counting in sequence until reaching the number of people in the group. For example, if you are at five, count to five.

  • The hard part comes now: no one can speak the same number at the same time. For example, if two people say "two!" together they have to drink.
  • If everyone can speak the numbers without matching anyone's speech, the last person to speak has to drink.


  • Soju is meant to be eaten with food, so eat while drinking so you don't get too upset from the alcohol.
  • Use stronger alcohol soju instead of vodka or gin in your favorite drinks, such as when making a Bloody Mary or vodka with orange juice (known as a “screwdriver”).


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