MAKKU Bringing One of Korea’s Oldest Beverages to New York and Beyond

by Sophia Hsu / Photos courtesy of Carol Pak and Cindy Trinh

In New York, one of Korea’s earliest alcoholic beverages, makgeolli, is becoming more recognizable in the foodie world. Rumor has it that a makgeolli brewery is even coming to Brooklyn. Some experts report the existence of makgeolli as far back as 2,000 years ago while other experts suspect its creation to be much earlier. The Western analog would be beer as it is brewed with a fermenting agent called nuruk which includes wild yeast among other natural components, so makgeolli could be considered a rice beer. Brewing makgeolli is not just regional, but the unique characteristics like ingredients and flavors are specific to a village. At the base, makgeolli is a simple, tangy, lightly effervescent, and slightly sweet beverage made from rice, water, and the fermenting agent. The type of rice, the source of the water, and the composition of the fermenting agent all contribute to making the flavor unique.

Makku founder Carol Pak is the daughter of Korean immigrants who settled in Queens. She has watched her parents and her neighbors build lives in their adopted country as small business owners. As many children of immigrants can relate, our parents want us to have a more comfortable life than they did, and this may be in the form of sending us to college, making sure we want for nothing, having the best of everything, and sometimes, not going into the family business. Carol went to college with her sights set on law school. Life, however, had other plans. A foray into the tech industry, a trip to business school, and some time at a venture capital firm, Carol has amassed a variety of skills to become an entrepreneur, just like the people around which she grew up. She is bringing a millennia-old, traditional Korean beverage into the 21st century and to the American palate.

For the last three years, Makku has provided craft makgeolli to Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens in a beautifully designed package and in easy-to-drink flavors with original, blueberry, and mango at Makku’s core. Carol and her mother have spent so much time personally researching, brewing, and taste-testing their makgeolli. They have traveled together to Korea and have tried the makgeolli that is only locally available, not the commercially available product. Carol has read studies and university papers, devouring every piece of information publicly available until she developed the perfectly balanced recipe for Makku. In a blind taste test, Makku’s taste, drinkability, and mouthfeel have won out over the singular commercially, widely available brand. Find Makku near you at drinkMakku.com/pages/find-us; drink it on its own, or get imaginative and create your own cocktail. 

Keep an eye out for special limited edition flavors, available at events around New York City this winter. Follow Carol and Makku on all the social media to find out where and when. Learn more about Makku at drinkMakku.com. NY residents can purchase Makku online at http://bit-ly/makku-online.