I just got back from Seoul. I went to attend the Pilsner Urquell beer festival held there, that sees about 6,000 visitors per day. There were no signs of security, everyone was very polite and no one was seemingly ‘drunk’, all in all it was very different experience from what I was used to in regards to the type of festivals that are held back in Europe. In short, it was amazing! No trouble to be seen at all.
You might be surprised but it is beer, not soju, that is the most consumed alcoholic beverage in Korea. Of course, Korea is also home to many other beverages which I have been wanting to try as well.
The most recognised Korean alcoholic beverage outside of Korea is their national drink, distilled and water diluted soju. The second most famous alcoholic beverage in Korea is makgeolli, aka the oldest alcohol in Korea. Unlike soju and the other clear alcohols, makgeolli is unfiltered, with a milky color and sediment at the bottom of the bottle.
Another clear liqueur which is similar to makgeolli in production process but different in filtration is called cheongju. Cheongju has traditionally been used for rituals and has a history of more than 1,500 years.
As much as Koreans love to drink alcohol, they are also known for their love of teas, green and black teas are very popular in Korea. So it is no surprise that Koreans have their own tea ceremony involving, traditional Korean tea pots and cups, as well as hot fruit and flower infusions (aka tisanes). Here, I would like to share with you several tisanes: pine pollen and honey tea, ginseng, ginger and jujube tea.
Korea is also known for producing several herbal and fruit liqueurs and one of the most popular is the Korean Plum Wine, which is similar to Japanese Umeshu.
There are plenty of other interesting beverages across Korea, but to find out more about them, you will need to go and visit for yourself.
My favorite tisanes or tea is a persimmon punch made of cinnamon, dried persimmons, ginger and peppercorn finished with pine nuts. It is a little too sweet for my liking; I have been told it is traditionally served as dessert.
Here’s is a cocktail recipe for you to try out:
Persimmon Punch Vol. 1
50 ml Scotch blended whisky – dry
15 ml Persimmon tea*
Combine both ingredients in a mixing glass and gently stir. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with citrus peel of your preference and 3 pine nuts floating in the drink.
* Persimmon tea
500 ml still water
50 gms of peeled and thinly sliced fresh ginger
4 cinnamon sticks
120 gr caster sugar
2 dried persimmons without stems
Combine water, ginger and cinnamon in a pot and bring to boil. Once boiled, lower heat and simmer for 1 hour. Discard ginger and cinnamon.
Add sugar and stir until it dissolves. Strain liquid into a pitcher and add persimmons. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate for at least 2 hours up to a couple of days before use.
Bartenders note: “Watch out for Koreans long tea traditions.”