Written by Zoe Stephens
If you’re lucky enough to get to visit the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) then you’re going to want to make sure you do it properly. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite drinks to help make those nights extra memorable! (Or ones you may have trouble remembering!)
1. Taedonggang #2
Right out of Pyongyang’s brewery, the Taedonggang is the most famous beer in North Korea. It’s what everyone, tourists and locals alike drink. It’s in no way anything special. It’s not something an ale or beer lover would go crazy over. But it’s almost that that makes it so charming… It’s a hoppy kind of lager that we could liken to, say, the Carling of the DPRK. It’s cold and fizzy and tastes like beer, and you’ll be drinking like a local. Can’t really complain then eh!
You’ll find a different variety of this traditional dish in every household in North Korea, each with their own recipe.
It’s Korea’s most traditional rice wine drink, originally drunk by farmers. However, it’s slowly growing in popularity, and even gradually making its way to the Western world! There’s usually around 4-6% alcohol in it and can be easily recognized by its milky, off-white coloring and smooth but thick texture. You drink from a bowl, not cup.
If you’ve ever been to China, Japan, or either ends of Korea, you will have heard of and probably tasted this typical East Asian alcohol. In China it’s known as Baijiu, Japan as Sake, and in Korea they have Soju. Each country has their own take on it, and each brand can vary. Generally, it has a pretty generic, tasteless, watered down vodka vibe to it. Except it actually tastes much nicer than that sounds. Traditionally made from rice, you can actually make it from whatever is available; potatoes, wheat, barley, etc.. If you’ve never had the (mis)fortune to run into it before, it’s a clear, mostly tasteless spirit. It can be anything between 16 and 40 percent alcohol, though averages at around 20%.
Most Westerners make the mistake of grabbing a glass and drinking the night away. This stuff is meant to be drunk in small shot style glasses with meals! Although, North Koreans love a drink and definitely won’t judge you if you get carried away.
This is a traditional North Korean tea is made by boiling dried jujubes or diluting preserved jujubes into boiling water. It’s a rich, ruby-brown color and is super healthy! The tea is full of iron, potassium, and vitamins B and C. So, perfect for a morning after enjoying too much Soju.
5. Taedonggang #7
We’re back at Pyongyang’s brewery for this final microbrew. Very different from the hoppy lager notes found in #2, this is much darker with a stronger taste. The first flavors that hit you are coffee and chocolate. Reviews on this one are mixed, some saying that it tastes like a watered down #6, but you can only try! Better still, why not just work your way through all the numbers. Then, decide for yourself which is the favorite!