Feb 2, 2010

Chapter Twenty-One: One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer

One bourbon, one scotch, one beer
Well I ain't seen my baby since I don't know when,
I've been drinking bourbon, whiskey, scotch and gin
Gonna get high man I'm gonna get loose,
need me a triple shot of that juice
Gonna get drunk don't you have no fear
I want one bourbon, one scotch and one beer
One bourbon, one scotch, one beer

Korea wants you to drink and it's not for nothing that the Koreans are known as "The Irish of Asia."  In addition to drinking vast amounts of alcohol, they are quite social about it.  Invitations to join people whose only common language is the international tongue of "drunk" are often forthcoming.  Korean media portrays alcohol as vital to health and some even suggest it can cure cancer.

There is a dark side to this too.  You don't have to live here long to see old women puking on the streets, sometimes quite early in the morning on their way home from the bars.  It's socially acceptable to pass out in the streets, on the subway, in an elevator, on a park bench, anywhere really.  Drinking in Korea is dangerous because many of the checks built into other countries don't exist.  Last Call?  No such thing.  Overserving?  Here that's known as "bartending."  Closing time?  Only when the last stragglers leave--and if that's at 8 in the morning, so be it.

Korea wants you to drink, but for those less interested in alcoholic drinks, many options exist.  From sweet potato lattes to delicious mocktails, you can always find something.  Coffee is everywhere, and in some places it is actually good..  It's usally in the 5 dollar range, however, and beer can cost as little as 2 dollars for a pint.  Korea wants you to drink.  Another consideration is that, unlike in the west, where pricing is based largely on alcohol percentage,  you can pay as much for a glass of lemonade as your friends did for their Long Island Ice Tea.  Korea wants you to drink.

Here are some photos from a year's worth of outings.  

These margaritas at On the Border are incredible and come in a variety of flavors--some of which are unique to this restaurant.

Makgeolli is a cloudy rice wine that one time was primarily for farmers.  Luckily, its deliciousness has transcended class barriers and you can now get it most everywhere.

Korean beer is, largely, flavorless lager.  It grows on you. Especially when it's in a nice evergreen bottle.

But the most delicious thing is this Korean raspberry wine.  It's like drinking candy.


Garrett Calcaterra said...

As good as all that sounds, admit it, you can't wait to get back stateside and drink a hoppy ale from the Pacific Northwest.

Ahimsa said...

This may come as some surprise to you, but actually I don't.

Ha! I almost tricked myself with that convincing lie. I recently had a pale ale that had some hops, and it was, without resorting to hyperbole, one of the highlights of my life.