The Official Guide to Makgeolli

Makgeolli is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in Korea; makgeolli is a type of traditional rice wine, native to Korea, and is about 6-8% alcohol by volume. There are so many different types of makgeolli that this article cannot possibly cover even half of them – it will nevertheless attempt to pick out some of the more popular types of makgeolli. In this guide, makgeolli is classified into three main categories – grains, fruits and others.

A Bowl of Makgeolli

1. Grain Makgeolli

Probably the most traditional type of makgeolli, grain makgeolli is still very popular amongst Koreans today. Various types of grains, including corn, “oh-gok” (mixture of five different types of grains), chestnut, black soybean and pine nuts are mixed with the base of makgeolli to create unique flavours.

a. Corn Makgeolli 

Corn makgeolli is very unique in its flavour, and those who love corn will love the taste of corn makgeolli as well! Combining the savoury-sweet taste of corn with the sweet, carbonated makgeolli, the corn makgeolli is sure to guarantee a completely new, but at the same time, familiar flavour.

ABV: 6%

Appropriate Temperature: 3-4ºC

Corn Makgeolli
Corn Makgeolli

Where to get it: Poseokjung Sinchon (Seoul)

Price: Poseokjung serves unlimited makgeolli for 5,900 won per person (3 hours maximum).

b. Chestnut Makgeolli 

Koreans love chestnuts, whether they be steamed, roasted or even mixed with makgeolli! Chestnut makgeolli is a must-try if you love chestnuts.

Chestnut Makgeolli

ABV: 7%

Appropriate Temperature: 3-4ºC

Chestnut Makgeolli

Where to get it: Hwang Jin Yi’s Inn, Sinchon (Seoul)

Price: 5,000 won

c. Oh-gok Makgeolli (“Five Grains” Makgeolli)

This is a special one. While traditionally, makgeolli has been the drink of choice for farmers and peasants, the oh-gok makgeolli has been served to the past presidents of Korea.

Oh-gok Makgeolli

ABV: 8%

Appropriate Temperature: 3-4ºC

The Presidential Drink – “Oh-gok Makgeolli”

Where to get it: Damotori H, Itaewon

Price: 6,000 won

2. Fruit Makgeolli

Fruit makgeolli is a creation of fresh fruits and syrup mixed with makgeolli, somewhat like a cocktail. It has been a huge hit especially amongst university students who enjoy sweet alcoholic beverages, rather than hard liquor.

a. Banana Makgeolli

Banana Makgeolli is one of the rising stars of the makgeolli world. Given the natural sweetness of banana and its smooth texture, banana makgeolli promises to bring you one of the best tasting alcoholic beverages you have ever tasted. 

Banana Makgeolli
Banana Makgeolli

Where to get it: Sul-iknun-maeul, Sinchon, Seoul

Price: 4,500 won

b. Strawberry Makgeolli 

Strawberry makgeolli has risen to popularity in recent years. Strawberries taste best in early winter, so strawberry makgeolli naturally becomes more popular during winters. Coupled with the cold weather, winter is probably the best time to drink any sort of alcoholic beverage, really.

Strawberry Makgeolli
Strawberry Makgeolli

Where to get it: Sul-iknun-maeul, Sinchon, Seoul

Price: 4,500 won

3. Others

Because there are so many different types of makgeolli, there are naturally those that do not fall into the traditionally popular categories of grain and fruits. Some of the most popular makgeolli from the non-grain and fruits categories are honey makgeolli and cream makgeolli.

a. Honey Makgeolli 

Honey makgeolli is essentially, makgeolli mixed with natural honey. When mixed in the right ratio, this concoction is possibly one of the best mixed makgeolli, and is hence one of the most popular.

Honey Makgeolli
Honey Makgeolli

Where to get it: Wolhyang

Price: 15,000 won

b. Cream Makgeolli 

Creamy Makgeolli Goodness

A creation of the popular restaurant “Oh-jju”, the cream makgeolli goes well with spicy Korean food, as it helps neutralise the spicy flavour.

Cream Makgeolli

Where to get it: Oh-jju Hongdae

Price: 4,000 won

That was a brief summary of the vast collection of the world of makgeolli. Have fun exploring your own new findings as you sieve through the countless number of different types of makgeolli, and find your own favourite!

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