Top 3 Alcoholic Drinks Koreans Love And What To Eat With Them

In the land of K-pop and K-drama, there is one prevailing cultural norm that Koreans are known for – drinking. This age-old cultural and social custom is prevalent in real life and is portrayed clearly and very often in Korean dramas. Whether it’s trying to socialize and meet new people, celebrating after a work, introducing yourself as a new employee at a company, or meeting a prospective father-in-law, the need to share a few glasses of some alcoholic beverage basically thrusts itself in your path.

While soju is the most popular drink in K-dramas, there are two other varieties of alcohol that are loved by many in Korea.

Top 3 Korean alcohol

Soju. Makgeolli. Maekju. These 3 types of Korean alcohol are widely consumed and loved by people all over Korea. In fact, these alcohol have made their way into international markets, and are enjoyed by people outside of Korea!

Because these drinks can be really strong, it’s best not to drink them on an empty stomach. Anju (안주) is a Korean term for food consumed with alcohol and in this article, we will recommend food that go amazingly well with the various Korean alcohol so that you can truly enjoy the Korean experience!

What is soju?

Soju is a traditional alcoholic beverage widely consumed in Korea. It is traditionally made from rice, but some soju these days are manufactured from starches such as potatoes, barley and even tapioca.

Soju is clear and colourless. It tastes similar to vodka but is sweeter due to sugars that are added in the manufacturing process. It has a high alcoholic content, with an alcoholic concentration usually between 16 – 45%, so those who cannot hold their liquor beware!

Soju is often consumed in group gatherings and is drunk in shot glasses. It is also popularly mixed in a wide variety of cocktails.

Check out geonbae’s range of soju.

Anju for soju

Samgyeopsal ((삼겹살) – grilled pork belly

The juicy and savoury meat complements the bittersweet drink. The grease that is present in this grilled dish also helps to slow down alcohol consumption.

Jokbal(족발) – braised pig trotters

Similar to samgyeopsal, this tender and tasty dish is also greasy and savoury, pairing well with soju.

Instant ramen

In this readily available snack, the saltiness of the ramen serves as a nice chaser for soju.

What is makgeolli?

Makgeolli, also known as Makkoli or Makuly(takju) (and referred to in English as “Korean rice wine”), is the oldest alcoholic beverage in Korea. It is made from grains such as sweet rice, regular rice, barley, wheat and malt, which gives it a milky, off-white color, and sweetness. It is made by fermenting grains and mixed with water, and is about 6–8% alcohol by volume.

Makgeolli is unfiltered and contains high levels of lactic acid and lactobacillus bacteria 500 times the level in yogurt and dietary fiber. This helps to aid digestion, improve immune function and slow the ageing process.

Makgeolli is mildly sweet, tart and sometimes fizzy, and with its relatively low alcohol content, it can be sipped on its own or swirled into cocktails. It is best served chilled.

Check out geonbae’s range of makgeolli here.

Anju for makgeolli

Jeon (전) – Korean savoury pancakes

There are many variations for this fried dish, like kimchi jeon (김치전), gamja jeon (감자전); made of potatoes, pajeon (파전); made of green onion. You will find that different types of jeon can pair with the many flavours of Makgeolli quite perfectly. Fun fact: It is said that in Korea, jeon and makgeolli are often enjoyed together as the rain sounds like the jeon frying on the stove.

Spicy and hearty food

Foods like kimchi jjigae (김치찌개); kimchi stew or kimchi fried rice goes well with makgeolli as its light tastes can help dimmish the effects of spicy food.

What is Korean beer?

Beer, called maekju (맥주) in Korean, was first introduced to Korea in the early 20th century. Seoul’s first beer brewery opened in 1908.

The top 3 popular beers are Hite Beer, Cass Beer and OB Lager. Most restaurants and bars in Korea only have one of these beer brands on tap (Hite or OB’s Cass), as they are largely regarded to be similar in taste (brewed from rice mostly) and price.

Anju for Korean beer

Korean beer is widely enjoyed with fried chicken pairing, aka Chimaek. Chimaek (치맥; from Korean chikin ‘fried chicken’, and maekju ‘beer’) is a pairing of fried chicken and beer, a classic combination in Korea and one of the most popular choices when eating out. The light and carbonated beer pairs well with the greasy taste of the fried chicken. This culture was further popularised by the famous Korean drama “My Love from The Star”.

You can get your Korean alcohol at, and have some anju to go along!

Which of the above 3 is your favourite Korean alcoholic drink?