On my last visit to Korea in February 2011, my friend’s cousin introduced me to the best Makkoli bars in Seoul, Korea. I could tell by how he drank the Korean rice wine and he took me to some of the best Makkoli tasting bars in Seoul.
One of the Makkoli bars we went was called Tri-cycle (세발자전거). This Makkoli bar specializes in Paldo(팔도막걸리) Makkoli.
Paldo Makkoli is actually made of 8 different types of Makkoli from 8 different regions in South Korea.
(Above chart shows you which region of South Korea the Paldo Makkoli is from.)
FYI, Makkoli you will taste in South Korea is going to be much better than if you have the exported Makkoli in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world. The main reason behind is that the best Makkoli in the world have a “perfect” temperature controlled environment from its Makkoli factory to the consumer at Makkoli bars. Exported Makkoli loses this special taste, something you can only taste within Korea.
Also, Makkoli is without a doubt the healthiest alcoholic beverage in the world with live yeast and 100 times more good germs than yogurt for the same serving size.
So, for this visit, we got to try at least 4 of them, let me give you some insights on how well that went. Since I do enjoy Makkoli on a daily basis even when in the U.S., and have made some Makkoli at home myself, I thought I would fair well in Makkoli tasting along with my friend’s cousin, who is probably more expert than me.
To start off, we got some nice seafood soup, veggies, and boiled eggs as appetizer. It’s Korean tradition to always have some food to eat along with your alcoholic drinks, especially when it comes to Makkoli.
This is what we orders, a Korean fusion baked pork with some really delicious sauce, it will literally melt in your mouth. I would come back to this spot (and fly 6,000 miles around the world) just for this dish, it’s that good and you won’t find it anywhere else but at Tricycle Bar in Korea.
So, the very first Makkoli we tried out was called Bong-Pyung Mae-mil Makkoli (봉평 메밀막걸리). It wasn’t bad but I wasn’t overly impressed.
After drinking couple sips, we looked at the label to find out what was in it.
By the way, the “best” Makkoli in Korea are the ones with 100% Korean rice and no sweetening additives.
Well, the answer was that this Makkoli had a bit too much sweetening additives with 70% Korean rice.
The bottom line? BongPyung Mae-mil Makkoli tasted too much like dead Makkoli.
What is dead Makkoli?
Dead Makkoli is Korean rice wine with too much additives and hence the living organisms are dead.
Well, it wasn’t that bad but just sayin’ there’s much better Makkoli I have tasted in my life.
To my surprise, the owner of this Makkoli bar replaced both our pouring jar and bowls. This allows for true “Makkoli” tasting, my friend’s cousin told me, who has been to this bar countless times.
For the next bottle, we tried Song Myung Sup Makkoli, which is made from literally 100% Korean rice, absolutely nothing else added.
Unfortunately, this Song Myung Sup Makkoli tasted a bit too bland. In fact, you thought there was almost no taste. But it was better than our previous BongPyung Mae-mil Makkoli as it went down very smooth.
By this time, my disappointment was growing because I expected a bit better taste.
Up next, we tried Sa-Mi-In-Ju Makkoli (사미인주 막걸리), a type of Makkoli made from purely, organic Korean rice with honey used as sweetner.
This was actually better than the previous two, it had a really nice sweet taste yet went down very smooth.
This San Mi In Ju Makkoli is made from organic rice but not just “any” organic rice. Most rice sit in a warehouse before they are used for cooking or making rice wine.
Well, we call it “Hep Rice” (햅쌀), which means the rice is taken from the first harvest, very fresh and organic.
I would say San Mi In Ju Makkoli is pretty good for those of you who enjoy a bit of sweetness in your Korean rice wine while preferring more or less natural and organic ingredients.
Jin Sun Mi Makkoli (진선미 막걸리) was pretty good also, I think for this night, it was a tie between this and San Mi In Ju Makkoli.
By the time we finished 4 bottles, we were ready to go Makkoli bar hoppin’ to another bar.
The reason why you need to actually visit a Makkoli bar in Korea is because the Makkoli factories deliver to the bars with controlled temperature or you can go to the source where they make it too.
You can visit Tricycle Bar website here: Bistro-Tricycle.com
Also you can learn to make makkoli at home.
Also check out my other makkoli bar reviews: