We often have our Carrollton patrons ask us, “What is the best alcohol pairing with Korean Fried Chicken? Though there are many delicious Korean alcohol and food pairings, one of the most popular Korean drinks that pairs well with just about everything is an uber popular, make-your-own cocktail called somaek. Talking about somaek invariably leads to many more questions and discussions about the drink, so we decided to write a blog about the FAQs of somaek!
First, what exactly is somaek?
The word SoMaek is a portmanteau of the two ingredients that make up the drink: soju + beer (maekju). It is a mixed drink that people usually mix up themselves tableside, often enjoying several glasses in a single meal or outing.
How do you make it?
Because somaek is a pretty casual mixed drink (much like a rum and coke or a vodka soda), there aren’t any strict rules on how to make it, and everyone has their own preferences! But here are a couple general guidelines:
1) Use a light beer
2) Use about a 3:7 ratio of soju:beer.
Type of beer used: typically a lager.
Popular Korean lagers include: Hite, OB, Cass, and Kloud – but really, nearly any type of lager or light beer will do.
Recommended ratio: 3 parts soju to 7 parts beer.
How to: Fill your glass up to 30% with soju, and fill up the remaining 70% with beer.
Though 3:7 is considered the “golden ratio” when it comes to somaek mixing, you are more than welcome to mix your somaek to any ratio according to your own tastes, and according to how strong you want your drink! Some glasses even come with varying ratio markings so that people can accurately mix their somaek as strong or light as they wish.
What does somaek taste like?
Somaek is incredibly refreshing and light with just a hint of pleasant, lingering sweetness. The addition of soju gives the drink a subtle depth and richness of flavor, and enhances the satisfying thirst quenching sensation of a good, cold lager – yet the drink is also not too “beer-y” for people who don’t like beer.
Where did somaek come from?
Though it’s impossible to pin down who mixed the very first somaek, the drink was likely borne some decades ago out of the longstanding, nearly all-pervasive tradition of Korean people drinking together en masse after work. Soju has long been regarded as Korea’s national drink, and beer is even more widely consumed than soju in Korea! Considering Korea’s drinking culture, somaek was always an inevitability. Today, somaek is considered an absolute classic Korean go-to drink.
What foods can you enjoy it with?
Somaek is the perfect warm-weather drink, and also pairs well with nearly any type of food thanks to how delicious light and refreshing it is! Somaek’s light, clean taste provides a perfect balancing contrast to cut through heavy dishes like Korean BBQ or Korean fried chicken. And yet because it is so light and refreshing, somaek also enhances the deliciousness of lighter foods and snack dishes like french fries, tteokkbokki and so much more!
Are there any variations on somaek?
Yes, many! Two popular spins on somaek are:
SoMaekCol = soju + maekju + cola. Pretty much the same as a traditional somaek, but with a splash or so of cola added. Also popular with sprite instead of coke!
Soju Bomb (aka poktanju, 폭탄주, meaning “bomb shot”) = similar to a boilermaker – a shot glass of soju is dropped into a pint glass of beer, and the entire thing is drunk quickly.
Watch: Showing our guests how to make and enjoy somaek, here at Yorienn Chicken in Carrollton, TX!