Will makgeolli be the alcohol star of 2021?

Illustration for article titled Will makgeolli be the alcohol star of 2021?
Photo: The Washington Post / Contributor (Getty Images)

Trends are fleeting, and from year to year people latch onto things. Take, for example, hard seltzer. Two years ago, people took hard seltzer and really, really, ran with it. But it can’t be hard seltzer forever (though I have a feeling it’s sticking around for a long time). So what do you think is the next trendy boozy beverage on the horizon?

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Well, the crew over at Gear Patrol seem to think it’s going to be makgeolli. Makgeolli, the oldest alcoholic beverage in Korea, is a milky-looking rice wine. Its cloudy appearance is due to the rice sediment floating around in it. It has a low ABV (6%-9%), and it’s tangy, sweet, every-so-slightly fizzy, almost creamy, and easy to toss back. Under normal circumstances it’s considered a communal drink to be shared on a night out (earmark this information for when we can all go out together); you dole it out in little bowls using a ladle, and it goes down quick. You can even get fruit-flavored versions these days.

Do I think this is going to be 2021's drink of choice? No, not really. It’s true that makgeolli is readily available in American liquor stores, but if soju hasn’t become a common household drink yet, I think it’s an uphill battle for makgeolli. Though Gear Patrol is right: it is terrific. It used to have a reputation for being a low-class drink, so people wrote it off for a long time, but I certainly could see it having a surge in popularity if it becomes a craft beverage.

But I could be wrong. People have embraced Korean pop culture in ways I could not have possibly imagined. There’s pop sensation BTS, the movie Parasite, the ongoing popularity of Korean food. But you know, if you do see it at the store and are curious about it, definitely pick up a bottle—shouldn’t run you more than $10—and see what you think.

Staff writer at The Takeout. Also: Saveur Humor Blog Award Winner, professional pizza maker, and insufferable troublemaker.

DISCUSSION

fredipusrex
FredipusRex

I’m struggling with exactly where, but I listened to or watched a documentary / podcast on makgeolli a few years back and was tempted to make it (even though I don’t drink) and just drop it off at your house.