Calpis Bartime Matcha Milk

Alcohol: 4% (14 ml)
Quantity: 350 ml can
Calories: 273 calories
Sugar: 44.1 grams
Price: 159 yen at Lawson
Official Site: http://www.calpis-sour.jp/bartime/?icid=pnl_bt

Of all the bizarre combinations…Calpis Bartime bills itself as a high-quality chuuhai which combining calpis with (an unidentified) liqueur, in this case, a liqueur with the flavor of powdered green tea (“matcha” 抹茶) and milk. They go on to say the construction of this chuuhai was supervised by Ishigaki Shinobu, the man who won a 2005 international bartender competition. I don’t doubt this man’s abilities, but let’s say one is limited with the materials one has to work with.

Not to say that this chuuhai is disgusting, but it’s definitely odd one of the odder flavors I’ve encountered. It’s extremely sweet yet sour with a definite aftertaste of bitter powdered green tea. I’m glad to have tried it, but I won’t be having it again.

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Kirin Frozen Chuuhai Limited Edition Apple Nouveau /キリン氷結チューハイ時間限定2011東北産りんご

Alcohol: 5% (17.5 ml)
Quantity: 350 ml can
Calories: 203 calories
Sugar: 25.9 grams
Price: 148 yen (129 yen at Kakuyasu)
Official Site: http://www.kirin.co.jp/brands/hyoketsu/index.html

This is a light and crisp apple-flavored chuuhai using apples from the Tohoku region of Japan – the region that suffered the most damage from the March 11th, 2011 earthquake. Usually, apple chuuhai are around 3% alcohol, but this one gives that extra 2% to help you get your buzz on. It is a bit high on the calories, however – I could do without a lot of the sugar here. But overall, it’s a pretty solid and flavorful limited edition chuuhai.

TaKaRa Ryuukyuu Highball Okinawa Shikuwasa / タカラ琉球ハイボール沖縄シークァーサ

Alcohol: 3% (10.5 ml)
Quantity: 350 ml can
Calories: 154 calories
Sugar: 20.85 grams
Price: 105 yen at Kakuyasu
Official Site: http://www.takarashuzo.co.jp/products/soft_alcohol/ryukyu-hiball/index.htm

I daresay, TaKaRa’s chuuhai might be growing on me, or at least their Ryuukyuu (old name for Okinawa before it was part of Japan) Highball series might not be as bad as their other products. This highball is so sweet it crushes the normally extremely bitter taste of the shikuwasa and is rather unassumingly. Unless I knew it was shikuwasa, I would have just assumed it was lime + loads of sugar. The disgusting TaKaRa aftertaste I have noticed in many of their chuuhai is absent here. Finally, a TaKaRa I wouldn’t mind drinking again! Success!

Calpis Sour / カルピスサワー

Alcohol: 3% (10.5 ml)
Quantity: 350 ml
Sugar: 16.8 g
Calories 140 kcal
Price: 148 yen at Family Mart
Official Site:  http://calpis-sour.jp/

Calpis is an uncarbonated milk-based soft drink in Japan that is milky in color and slightly acidic in taste. The name itself is a portmanteau, constructed of cal from “calicum” and pis from the Sankrit word “sarpis” (butter flavor.) I have read that Calpis is marketed internationally as Calpico, but I have never seen it outside of Japan. I have to suppose it’s unusual that a major soft drink manufactures its own alcoholic version: I can’t eat an official Coca-Cola-Canned-Vodka RTD. The Caplis Sour is a combination of calpis and vodka – and at only 3% alcohol, the vodka doesn’t add or take away much here. There’s just the sweet and acidic taste of calpis with the hint of nondescript spirits. I’m not in love with Calpis Sour, but I’d drink it again.

Suntory Cocktail Calori Grapefruit Special / サントリー カクテルカロリ。グレープフルーツスペシャル

Alcohol: 3% (10.5 ml)
Quantity: 350 ml can
Calories: 105 calories
Sugar: 7.77 grams
Price: MSRP 141 yen (108 at AEON)
Official Site: http://products.suntory.co.jp/d/4901777216631/カクテルカロリ

Sweet, tart, and fairly low calorie with little bits of pulp which always taste strange yet pleasing to me. The mix of three types of grapefuit give this a variety and depth that’s usually lacking from standard grapefruit chuuhai. Recommended if you can find it, but with only 3% alcohol you won’t feel it as much as the usual 6-8% grapefruit cocktails.

Suntory Horoyoi Winter Tangerine (Winter Limited Edition) / サントリー ほろよい 冬みかん 冬限定

Alcohol: 3% (10.5 ml)
Quantity: 350 ml
Sugar: 29.715 g
Calories 185.5 kcal
Price: MSRP 141 yen
Official Site: www.suntory.co.jp/rtd/horoyoi/

And finishing out the Horoyoi lineup, we have the limited edition tangerine flavor out for winter. I’m not really sure what is very wintery about tangerines, they always seem to be in season in this country, but whatever – oranges and tangerines are flavors often missing from the world of chuuhai. But I myself stay loyal to the Suntory -196C Orange.