With Singapore being the food capital of the Asia, it comes at no surprise that it is quite easy to find makgeolli in Singapore. Also, there are around 20,000 South Koreans living in Singapore, primarily as expatriates, which also helps to keep up makgeolli demand in Singapore. So where can I find Makgeolli in Singapore?
Korean grocery stores
It is quite easy to find Korean grocery stores in Singapore that all carry makgeolli and the good news is that some of them do carry unpasteurized makgeolli! Unfortunately, there’s literally only one choice for unpasteurized makgeolli and that is Kooksoondang’s Saeng (생 which means draught) Makgeolli.
It is basically the only unpasteurized makgeolli that you can buy in Singapore. While not having much of a choice, it is however a tasty, refreshing and recommendable standard makgeolli . You can buy Kooksoondang’s Saeng Makgeolli for example at Koryo’s Lottemart in Telok Ayer Street. Make sure to specifically mention or look for “Saeng” or 생 to make sure you get the unpasteurized version.
We were quite surprised about the wide variety of pasteurized makgeolli such as Kooksoondang (국순당), Woorisool (우리술), Sejong (새종), Seoul and Tokkssoneun (톡쏘는) and flavoured versions. We also found Baesangmyeon’s pasteurized version of Neurinmaeul (느린마을) makgeolli at the above mentioned Koryo Mart.
Prices range from SGD 8 to 10 per bottle which is around USD 6 to 7. Don’t be surprised, alcoholic drinks are generally expensive in Singapore. Makgeolli is not significantly more expensive than a bottle of beer in Singapore.
It’s even possible to find makgeolli in normal non-Korean specialized supermarkets. For example, local supermarket chain “Cold Storage” has a decently sized pasteurized makgeolli space, primarily carrying flavoured versions though. They didn’t carry fresh makgeolli.
Most of the 7-Eleven stores that we visited also carried one pasteurized makgeolli brand, Jinro’s “Makgulli”, most likely targeted at Korean businessmen on business travels.
Also there are some online shops that sell makgeolli (incl. Kooksoondang’s Saeng Makgolli), for example at Geonbae.
There are many Korean restaurants all over in Singapore where you can order makgeolli. Especially the Tanjong Pagar Road (street number from 1 to 134) has a high density of Korean establishments where Korean restaurants literally line up building after building. Most of the Korean restaurants also offer Kooksoondang Saeng Makgeolli, which we drank at Dal-in’s restaurant.
With only one unpasteurized makgeolli brand available in Singapore, it is an absolute delight to find Joo Bar in Singapore close to Bugis Junction (view Google maps here). It is the only makgeolli bar Singapore brewing their own fresh makgeolli and serving modern anju.
Their makgeolli is offered in its original format and with freshly prepared flavour versions, incl. banana, white grape, litchi, wild berries and many more served ice-cold. It’s a very honest and refreshing brew slightly sour and sweet in flavour.
Price of a 0.5l kettle of normal makgeolli was SGD 18 and flavoured versions cost SGD 22. They offer the normal makgeolli for SGD 10 during happy hours (5:30pm-8pm). Again, while it might sound expensive, for Singapore it is pretty standard and was worth every cent. Joo Bar unfortunately does not serve fresh makgeolli from other brewers as an alternative to its homemade brew.
To summarize, for makgeolli lovers craving for fresh unpasteurized makgeolli, Singapore has only two but very good options: Kooksoondang’s Saeng makgeolli, quite easily found in Korean grocery stores and restaurants and a craft brewed fresh makgeolli at Joo Bar.