During my last visit to Korea, while drinking beer with some friends, I was introduced to the oldest Korean alcoholic beverage, Makgeolli. Obviously, I could not resist to find out more about this interesting alcoholic beverage.
Where shall we start…
Makgeolli is a low alcoholic beverage with a milky, cloudy color. Makgeolli is traditionally made from grains such as sweet or regular rice, barley or wheat and malt mixed together with nuruk (a Korean fermentation starter). It is made by fermenting grains and water and has around 6 – 8% alcohol content. All ingredients are fermented, the sediments are not filtered.
Makgeolli has a long history and dates back all the way to Kingdom of Goryeo (918-1392).
Makgeolli was very popular amongst the working class until 1988. In recent years however, its popularity has been raising among Korean youth and celebrities who are attracted to Makgeolli’s reputation as a healthier type of booze.
Mildly sweet and tart and sometimes fizzy, makgeolli can be sipped on its own or swirled into cocktails. Aside of alcohol, makgeolli consists of 2% protein, 0.8% carbohydrates, 0.1% fat and 10% lactic fibre along with vitamins B and C.
It is suggested that regardless of drinking it by itself or mixing it in cocktails that any time you are planning to pop the bottle of makgeolli, make sure you shake it first before opening.
Here is a simple cocktail recipe for you to try at home:
15 ml VSOP cognac
45 ml makgeolli
5 ml fresh citrus
5 ml sugar syrup
Combine all ingredients in a tall glass over ice. Top up with dry apple cider.
Bartender’s note: “The key to all makgeolli cocktails is the type of makgeolli, as it’s flavor changes from type to type.”