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The Best Drinks To Pair With Korean Barbeque That Aren’t Soju!

korean bbq and drinks

A Korean barbeque needs little in the way of description. It is a thoroughly delicious and exciting coming together of several flavour packed ingredients. Korean BBQ or KBBQ is a regular barbequing of marinated meats but the sheer explosion of spicy, tangy, umami notes that ooze into the chicken or pork coupled with the charred and smoky flavours of the open grill introduce into the dishes such a dynamite profile that it makes for an exquisitely appealing spread. KBBQ meats are often marinated in soy sauce, gochujang and toasted sesame oil and wrapped in ssam or lettuce or sesame leaves along with veggies like scallions, pickled radishes, beans and cucumbers.

At this indulgent Korean meal cooked on your dining table, you would be traditionally served with soju, or the translucent vodka-like spirit so integral to the culinary cultures of this region. The texture of soju makes it the perfect base for mixing cocktails too, so it can be infused with beer, yuzu or other citrus flavours to craft tangy drinks that pair well with charred meats. But apart from soju, there are several other beverages which can pair perfectly with KBBQ. So when you next host a barbeque gathering or visit a restaurant for Korean grilled meats, check out these drinking accompaniments:

Maesil ju

This is a traditional Korean plum wine with slightly sweet and syrupy components. The balance of the maesil ju’s soft notes with the slightly spicy barbequed meats renders a beautiful and satiating experience for the taste buds. Maesil ju is made out of green plums and honey along with a splash of soju and serves as a delightful aperitif to be savoured before you dig into a sumptuous plate of Korean-style barbequed chicken.

Sake

Just as soju would go well with certain kinds of sushi, the Japanese rice wine sake would pair stunningly with Korean barbeque. The wine is made by polishing rice and its flavour and depth is often determined by the levels of this making process. Sake generally has quite a sweet profile that counteracts the spicy components in the KBBQ so you can sip sake while taking a bite of grilled chilli pork lathered in kimchi.

wines and bbq

Makgeolli

Another delightful Korean drink, Makgeolli is a rice wine originating from this region that carries a milky profile. In fact, the wine is white enough to resemble milk and has a slightly sweeter flavour to counteract the intensity of heavy meats. You can enjoy makgeolli and Korean chargrilled chicken to taper down meaty tastes and introduce a lightness into the meal. The drink can also be served as a dessert-like end to a spicy meal becoming a sharp contrast to spicy mains.

Cass Beer

Beer and barbeque is a classic combination and while gorging on a delicious KBBQ, how can you have anything but a Korean variant of the froth paired with spicy charred meats? Cass beer or hite is a good alternative to wash down the smoky flavours of the barbeque and will also go well with the different leafy greens, beans and fresh veggies like cucumbers and radishes, all of which are brought together on a finished KBBQ platter.

Bokbunja ju

When you host a Korean barbeque, you hardly need to worry about a dessert wine. Bokbunja ju or Korean blackberry wine is the perfect option. The dark wine has slightly sweeter notes and a dense texture to soothe the palate after a particularly flavour-packed meal. You can do away with dining rules, however, if you like a bit of sweet infusion into your spicy Korean repast. Bokbunja ju is also known to make you more virile, isn’t that so very appealing?

Boricha 

This Korean non-alcoholic beverage is an iced barley tea which is enjoyed quite often in the region. You can pair it with KBBQ on a hot summer day to ease the spice component in the dish, boost digestion and become a refresher for your palate amidst an array of utterly intense meaty treats. Have boricha with tons of ice cubes dropped into the tumbler to enjoy between mouthfuls of bibimbap, banchan, pajeori and other interesting sides.