Chuhai vs. Sour: Japanese Alcoholic Drinks

Chuhai (酎ハイ/チュウハイ) and Sour (サワー) are both varieties of alcoholic drinks that are available in Izakaya (居酒屋), a Japanese pub that serves a wide range of dishes and beverages.

They are very similar things; Some Izakaya restaurants call it Chuhai, whereas others call it Sour. 

Chuhai vs. Sour: Japanese Alcoholic Beverages

I wondered, how do exactly these alcoholic beverages differ? So I did some online research about them today.

And here, I will share the result of my research with people who have the same question as I had.

What is Chuhai (チューハイ)?

Chuhai drinks

First, Chuhai is a portmanteau of shochu and highball, but there is no clear definition of this beverage.

In general, Chuhai refers to a drink made from colorless and unscented spirits, such as shochu and vodka, with fruit juice or the like added, diluted with carbonated water.

But as you may know, in recent years, Chuhai can also be made with non-carbonated soft drinks such as green tea.

What is Sour (サワー)?

Lemon Sour

The origin of the drink’s name, Sour (サワー), literally comes from the English word sour.  

The base of the alcoholic beverage is also a spirit or liquor (mostly shochu), to which sweet stuff (such as sugar) and sour fruit juice (such as citrus and berries) are added.

The cocktail is diluted with soda or sparkling water, and the resulting drink is generally called Sour. (So Lemon Chuhai has another name Lemon Sour.)

But as with Chuhai, the definition of Sour is vague, and it can also be made with non-carbonated drinks such as Calpis.

(Reference Pages: Suntory, Nomooo )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

2 Responses

  1. James says:

    Thank you, I have been wondering how the two differs it looks like it can be used interchangeably, but sour is much more commonly used

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