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Makgeolli - The Drunken Rice

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 finding 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 the Kingdom of Goryeo (918-1392). Makgeolli was very popular amongst the working class until 1988. In recent years, however, its popularity has been rising 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 from alcohol, makgeolli consists of 2% protein, 0.8% carbohydrates, 0.1% fat, and 10% lactic fiber 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:

Goryeo Collins

15 ml VSOP cognac 45 ml makgeolli 5 ml fresh citrus 5 ml sugar syrup

1. Combine all ingredients in a tall glass over ice.

2. Top up with dry apple cider.

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