A Information to Korean Consuming Etiquette

My Korean mother and father by no means drink. Often, perhaps throughout his birthday celebration, my dad drinks a beer and his face instantly turns beet pink. My mom can hardly stand the scent – simply sniff and she’s going to complain about an oncoming headache. So it is a thriller to them how I, their eldest daughter, turned the best drinker ever.

That is conceitedness, after all, however conceitedness is what drives the Korean consuming expertise. It’s normal to be requested, “What number of bottles of soju are you able to drink?” as a measure to evaluate one’s skills. Consuming isn’t just a problem in Korean society, however a lifestyle – you be taught to simply accept a drink out of your elders, drink socially with your folks, remorse drinks with co-workers, meet for drinks with purchasers to shut huge offers. and pour a cup to honor your ancestors.

As an American, I discovered to drink in school events after which in bars throughout New York Metropolis. However as a Korean (as a result of I am each), I discovered consuming by watching my uncles, then by Korean dramas, and at last consuming with my cousins ​​and mates in Korea. My expertise and the related conceitedness come from two issues: I by no means get the Asian glow, and I’ve a excessive tolerance. Since then, I’ve turn into one thing of a “Korean consuming coach” in the case of educating the distinctly Korean strategy to consuming — and now I am right here that can assist you too.

I need to warning, as my physician would beg me: please drink responsibly.

what to drink

The 2 most typical kinds of alcohol in Korea – or at a Korean restaurant serving Korean drinks – are soju It’s beer. There are just a few manufacturers for every kind of alcoholic beverage, which makes them simple to recollect and simple to order.

Soju often is available in iconic inexperienced Chamisul or Chum Churum branded bottles, and extra lately additionally in a lightweight blue bottle referred to as Jinro. At present’s soju is much less resistant than in previous a long time (as a approach to hold costs low). When fashionable soju was first launched in 1965, it was sometimes 35 p.c alcohol by quantity, however these days bottles vary between 12 to twenty p.c ABV, by no means exceeding 24 p.c. Traditionally talking, Hite and Cass have been the commonest Korean beers, with Kloud and Terra being fashionable newcomers to the scene. Most Korean beers are gentle, pale lagers made to drink simply and pair effectively with soju.

Much less frequent than beer and soju, Makgeolli (or Korean rice wine) is a really conventional model of alcohol that comes with its personal customs and pairings. Though you will discover makgeolli offered in bottles, it’s typically listed as a “do-it-yourself” makgeolli. The milky white liquor is decanted right into a copper kettle, made to be poured into copper rice bowls, as a nod to its historical past as a farmer’s alcohol generally brewed at dwelling with rice.

Easy methods to order

When consuming with a good friend or two, I like to start out with a bottle of soju and one or two massive 500ml bottles of beer. Soju will probably be served with shot glasses, whereas beer is often served with small beer glasses. These beer glasses are important for making “somaek”, or soju combined with maekju (Korean for “beer”).

Again-to-back rounds could be ordered – the quantity in every soju bottle is half that of ordinary wine bottles, round 375 milliliters, and the alcohol proportion is comparatively low. Some Korean pochas (or caterers) even encourage you to assist your self from fridges situated within the eating room to keep away from the employees always working forwards and backwards.


The eldest, or the individual paying for dinner, opens the soju bottle. It’s normal (and enjoyable!) to shake or spin the bottle to create a whirlpool; This follow is harking back to when soju bottles have been corked, and the vortex would separate any cork materials that fell out of the liquid. The individual serving will serve the desk separately, and as soon as everybody else has been served, another person will pour them their cup.

No matter whether or not you’re consuming soju, beer or makgeolli, it’s thought of unhealthy kind to refuse the primary drink supplied to you or any drink supplied by somebody older than you. Because of this there tends to be a number of age-comparison discuss throughout any consuming get-together. From then on, it is respectful to maintain others’ glasses full, however by no means pour your personal drink.


Probably the greatest elements of consuming in Korea (or your favourite Korean restaurant) is all of the meals you possibly can pair together with your drinks. In America, it is common to see minimal drinks in bars or golf equipment, however in Korea it is often the opposite method round; alcohol is so low-cost that you must order meals to take a seat on the desk.

Whereas nearly any meals could be paired with alcohol, there are some traditional and scrumptious Korean mixtures to look out for. Grilled pork stomach, or samgyupsal, is a must have with photographs of chilly soju, whereas fried hen and beer go hand in hand (a mixture dubbed “chimaek”). On a wet day, Koreans love to achieve for a cup of makgeolli with jeon, a deep-fried Korean pancake, as a result of the pattering of the rain is harking back to the mushy sizzle of frying in sizzling oil.

Julia Gartland’s picture

as ‘Cha’

A typical evening out in Korea entails a number of rounds, referred to as “cha”. For the primary spherical, or 1-cha, we prefer to cook dinner a hearty Korean barbecue dinner and begin the evening off with somaek. Our 2-cha, or second spherical, could be spent at a cocktail bar for a barely extra upscale, boozy expertise. As soon as we’re feeling good, our 3-cha generally takes place at a karaoke bar – the place there will probably be extra drinks – earlier than heading to a pojangmacha (Korean pub) for 4-cha. There, we order a ton of anju (consuming snacks) like spicy rice truffles or clam chowder earlier than calling it an evening.

Even after-drink morning care has its personal distinctive tradition in Korea. Hangovers are historically handled with haejangguk, or hangover soup, which is a whole class of soup within the Korean lexicon. They vary from bouillon stuffing cooked with dried napa cabbage and greens, to ox blood soup (seonjiguk), blood sausage soup (soondaeguk), and even only a cup of instantaneous ramyun from the comfort retailer. Whilst you’re fueling up, you can even search for hangover drinks. This development continues to be comparatively new in Korea, full with bottles, capsules and jellies that comprise a mixture of nutritional vitamins and conventional medicinal elements supposedly to assist ease your alcohol-induced complications and queasiness.

Whereas the various guidelines and etiquette above could seem formidable to a newbie, the Korean drink serves as a gateway to Korean tradition as an entire. It is a approach to benefit from the nation’s scrumptious meals, make mates shortly, and expertise extra in a single evening than you possibly can in every week.

What’s your favourite Korean consuming custom? Inform us within the feedback under!

Leave a Comment