For the last few weeks, we have been running a pop-up cocktail bar and menu with the guys at the Montpellier pub in Brighton. The pub has a very new age and delicious Korean style fried chicken Street food menu, so what better opportunity for the Barlogic team to hit the research button and concoct some delicious Asian infused drinks to compliment the food offering.

The menu consists of flavours including teriyaki, satay and sesame so at Barlogic we got our taste buds in a cuddle puddle of gin, and whiskey along with chilis, sweet flavours and Western mixes to create a menu that we felt would really excite the customers, and staff alike!

These drinks will change on a regular basis but to start with flavours such as lemongrass, lychee and ginger were big players, we also managed to charge prosecco over one of the drinks and the use of Kaffir lime leaves were big players, there was a lot of room to work with and we loved the feeling of leaving our comfort zone.

Whilst designing the menu and researching Korean drinks, we thought it only apt our next blog instalment be something totally different to our last entry and write about a specific country which of course in this case was going to be South Korea. This article will go into depth about the drinking culture, the etiquettes, spirits and cocktails this amazing country has to offer.

All about respect

In South Korea respect is a massive part of life in which the majority abides too, the young respect the old and for the main part respect of each other’s beliefs or views is a big part of their culture.

When the young are old enough to drink, they are taught by their elders how to respect their drinking etiquettes which have been passed down by generations for centuries. There is a ritual when the first drink is given to a guest or a younger person from an elder which includes the receiver using both hands (left palm at the bottom and using the right to hold) with a slight bow, then to turn away from the elder and drink in one go. 

Drinking with the Boss 

One of South Korea’s most common forms of drinking is Hoesik (which means dinner/drinks with co-workers.) In the past it was a given for employees to go out with bosses and co-workers for drinks and dinner on a regular basis to the level of excess, basically to get hammered!

This is a custom that maybe frowned upon in England by some companies, but maybe not in our industry where it is a free for all usually! Let us face it we have all been that clown who has got to mashed in front of our work colleagues.

Korean culture fully promotes this style of company bonding session to show integration between staff and higher-level management. I believe we have a thing or two to learn from a lot of Asian culture and customs.

Solo sessions

Drinking by yourself in South Korea is not considered rude but it is a strange thing to do. After a hard day here it is very much the norm, people often pop in to their local or a commuter bar, grab a pint of beer or a nice glass of wine and just relax in their thoughts, a book or catch up with emails before heading home.

South Koreans do not generally behave like this, on their eyes the whole point of drinking is to enjoy other people’s company, it is all about socialising for them.

The South Korean head of alcohol research was quoted as saying “people are drinking to enjoy relationships, hobbies and activities rather than the drink it self” which is so true it’s not just about the drink it’s more about the environment and the people you are with who make the drinking experience special

Booze talk

So now you have some information on the basics about how to drink in South Korea, let us talk about what to drink. In South East Asia rice wines are a massive part of people’s lives, mainly because of how cheap they are to produce. Even in the local 7/11 shops, bottles are sold very cheaply, they are a part of most South Korean households, and a very traditional drink.

There are many different types of rice wine being distilled and disturbed in South Korea.

Each rice wine uses different fruits to create fresh flavours. Most of these rice wines have a fresh, sweet finish due to the fruits they use.

When we researched for this article, we came across one type of sweet rice wine called Maeshilju which is fermented with green plums and honey. This rice wine is a very sweet variety and is perfect as an after-meal drink, like a palate cleanser. Sweet and overpowering, this wine really does not pair well with any type of food, it is a dessert wine and popular.

Something for a stressful day

Another South Korean drink which interested us was Sansachun. This Rose-coloured drink served in shot glasses has been used for over 400 to relieve stress and relieve the body of aches and pains. (A bit like a tequila party at Barlogic HQ!)

Sansachun is also drunk to increase a person ‘appetite before a big meal to eat more food and enjoy a fuller dining experience! We love the sound of this bottle, its right up our Strasse!

This drink can also help with the next day’s hangover! Sounds amazing, like a pre hair of the dog, hair of the dog! Drunk just before bedtime after a heavy night this will keep your hangover at bay…… Who owns the import rights! Brewed from hawthorn berries the drink has a slight but subtle sour after taste.

Do not forget the Soju!

We cannot mention South Korea without mentioning its national drink which is Soju. This is an Asian based spirit akin to vodka distilled with rice and has an alcohol content of anywhere between 16-53% abv. Soju pairs very well with most South Korean meals especially grilled pork but also sweeter ingredients including strawberries, lemons, apples, and oranges. Soju can also be drunk as a Somaek (a beer and spirit cocktail) where you add a shot of soju to a Korean beer and down it- Bit like a Jaegerbomb! Sojubomb anyone!

At the Montpellier we created an Asian inspired cocktail menu to go hand in hand with their Korean street food. These included an Asian style gin spritz cocktail, we think you should give it a go at home! Here is the recipe and a picture of the drink.

You will require one Boston cocktail shaker (tin and glass)

One cocktail strainer and some nice gin balloon glasses.

One spirit measure known as a jigger.

Ingredients include Tarsier pink oriental gin available from Master of Malt online

Chambord, Prosecco, a lemon, and a ginger and lemongrass syrup.

To make the syrup all you need is lemongrass, sugar, Ginger root and water.

For half a litre of syrup that you can keep in the fridge for about a month after it is made you need to follow this procedure, it is so simple so do not be scared!

Add two parts of White granulated sugar to one part of water in a pan and put on the heat, stir until dissolved. For around half a litre of syrup use 500ml of water and a kilo of sugar. Peel 2-3 ginger stems and pop them in as well as 3-4 lemongrass stems chopped into pieces. Stir the mix until the sugar is all dissolved, reduce it nicely with the ingredients infusing, take off the heat and keep the pan covered as it cools to absorb the flavour before finely sieving the pieces and shreds out and pouring the sweet fragrant mix into a glass bottle and refrigerating.

To make the drink- Fill the Boston glass full of ice, add in 40ml of the Tarsier pink oriental gin. Add 10ml of Chambord and 15ml of the lemongrass and ginger syrup then squeeze around 20ml of lemon juice in. You can use your 50ml jigger to guestimate the amounts, its only common sense and a bit of fun so don’t be scared to give it a go!

Pop the metal tin into the Boston glass securely and give them a Good shake! When the tin starts to frost over you are ready to pour. Next you need to separate the tin from the glass, if you hit the joint where the tin and glass meet against the palm of your hand firmly it will release, it does take practise though!

Then pour the mixture through your strainer into the gin balloon that you will also have full of ice. The mixture will fill around a third of the glass, you then top the drink with prosecco and garnish with edible flowers which you can buy online, pop a stripy straw in and Voilà!

Please try it and contact us for advice, let us know how it tastes!

Keep an eye out for our next instalment of blog in the next few weeks and thanks for reading.

Much love from Barlogic