Makgeolli is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in Korea, right behind soju. Makgeolli, also known as Korean rice wine or takju, is made by fermenting rice as one would grapes or barely and is usually around 6-8% alcohol by volume. Given its popularity and cultural relevance in Korea, there are so many different types of makgeolli that this article could not possibly cover even half of them. Nevertheless in this guide, we will break down some of the most popular kinds classified into three main categories – grains, fruits, and others, as well as recommend some of the best spots in Korea to try them for yourself.


 

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1. Grain Makgeolli

Probably the most traditional type of makgeolli, grain makgeolli remains very popular even today. Various types of grains, including corn, “oh-gok”, chestnut, black soybean, and pine nuts are mixed with the base rice wine to create unique flavors.

1) Corn Makgeolli 

 

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Corn makgeolli has a very unique flavor and if you love corn – you will love the taste of corn makgeolli as well! Combining the savory-sweet taste of corn with the sweet, carbonated rice wine – corn makgeolli is sure to guarantee a completely new, but at the same time, familiar flavor.

ABV: 6%

Appropriate Temperature: 3-4ºC

2) Chestnut Makgeolli 

 

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Koreans love chestnuts, whether steamed, roasted, or even made into makgeolli! Chestnut makgeolli is a must-try if you love chestnuts.

ABV: 7%

Appropriate Temperature: 3-4ºC

3) Oh-gok (오곡) “Five Grains” Makgeolli


While traditional makgeolli has been the drink of choice for farmers and peasants due to its simple ingredients, oh-gok makgeolli has even been served to the past presidents of Korea! Oh-gok meaning five grains in Korean, is made with brown rice, barley, corn, white perilla, and perilla grains.

ABV: 8%

Appropriate Temperature: 3-4ºC


2. Fruit Makgeolli

Fruit makgeolli is a sweet mixture of fresh fruits, syrup, and makgeolli, somewhat like a cocktail. It has become a huge hit, especially among university students who prefer sweet drinks over hard liquor.

1) Banana Makgeolli

 

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Banana Makgeolli is one of the rising stars of the Makgeolli world. Given the natural sweetness of bananas and their smooth texture, banana makgeolli promises to be one of the best-tasting alcoholic beverages you have ever had. Imagine if banana milk had a cooler older brother.

 

2) Strawberry Makgeolli 

Strawberry makgeolli has risen in popularity in recent years thanks to its unique color and sweet refreshing taste. As strawberries in Korea often taste best in early winter, strawberry makgeolli is naturally the most popular during this time.

 


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 of these are honeycomb and cream makgeolli.

1) Honeycomb Makgeolli 

Honey makgeolli is as simple as it sounds, combining makgeolli with natural honey. However, when mixed in the right ratio, this concoction is possibly one of the best-mixed makgeolli and easily one of the most popular. Although you can find honey makgeolli just about anywhere, the popularity of honeycomb makgeolli has skyrocketed in recent years thanks to restaurants like Sinsajeon in Gangnam.

 

2) Cream Makgeolli 

Originally created by the resultant “Oh-jju”, cream makgeolli goes well with spicy Korean food, as it helps neutralize the spice. Cream makgeolli has since become widely available in bars and restaurants across Seoul and is often used as a base for fruit or fresh blended makgeolli cocktails.


Discover your favorite flavor with these Makgeolli Making Classes:


4. How & Where to Drink Makgeolli in Seoul

Although makgeolli is so common so can find it just about anywhere you find soju, Koreans have a few particular methods to best enjoy the sweet drink. Traditionally makgeolli is best served cold in a small metal or ceramic bowl and this serving style can be seen as far back as the 1780s in Korean folk paintings. Makgeolli is most commonly enjoyed with another farmer’s favorite, Korean jeon or fried pancakes. It is said that the hiss of the jeon frying in a pan sounds just like the pitter-patter of rain on a tin roof, and therefore the delicious combo is nearly irresistible on rainy days.

1) Sinsajeon

 

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Well-known across social media, Sinsajeon offers a fresh take on honey makgeolli. The honeycomb is sliced in-house and served fresh in your drink, infusing the makgeolli with extra sweetness.

Address: 18 11-gil, Dosan-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (Kakao Map)

Hours: 11am – 1am Daily

Recommended Menu: Honeycomb Makgeolli, Shrimp Minari Pancake

2) White Bear Brewery

 

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White Bear Makegeolli is known for premium quality makgeolli, often even referred to as ‘makpagne’ (makgeolli + champagne). The staff at their restaurant is extremely knowledgeable in all brands and offers excellent custom recommendations based on your personal preferences.

Address: 39 Apgujeong-ro 48-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (Kakao Map)

Hours: 5;30pm – 1am Thursday – Saturday

Recommended Menu: Venus Clam Soup, Ask the staff for custom Makgeolli recommendations!

3) Sanullim 1992

 

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If the impressive over 180+ selection of traditional Korean drinks wasn’t enough, the delicious food with a modern twist and cozy Korean tavern vibes of Sanullim 1992 offers something for everyone. Originally opened in 1992, the bar is still well-known for its trendy and inviting atmosphere.

Address: 60 Seogang-ro 9-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul (Kakao Map)

Hours: 5pm – 12am Daily

Recommended Menu: Potato Cheese Pancake, Kimchi Tofu

4) Nook

 

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Can’t decide on just one flavor you want to try? Make sure to stop by Nook for their sampler instead! Known for offering a wide variety of unique flavors, the warm atmosphere and delicious offerings at Nook are a must-visit.

Address: 8 Wonhyo-ro 77-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul (Kakao Map)

Hours: 11am – 8pm Daily, Closed Mondays

Recommended Menu: Nook Sampler (Makgeolli Tasting Flight), Green Onion Bossam, Kimchi Jeon

5) Slow Village (Nurin Mauel)

 

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Most known for their own name-brand seasonal makgeolli, Slow Village also operates a handful of physical locations for customers to enjoy makgeolli and more. Slow Village makgeolli emphasizes the philosophy of the ‘Aesthetics of Slowness’ and does not use any artificial sweeteners in their brewing.

Address: 7 Seocho-daero 73-gil, Seocho-gu, Seoul (Kakao Map)

Hours: 5pm – 12am Daily

Recommended Menu: Seasonal House Makgeolli, Tofu with stir-fried Kimchi and Boiled Pork, Assorted Korean Pancake


Don’t want to try alone? Check out these Makgeolli tasting tours:


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