Measuring beloved Korean drink, from smooth to blackout

Tue Jun 7, 2011 9:40pm EDT
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By Ju-min Park

SEOUL (Reuters Life!) - For hard-drinking Koreans, few combinations of alcohol have as strong a hold on their hearts as the popular local version of a boilermaker.

Somaek, the mix of Korea's national alcohol soju -- a distilled vodka-like liquor -- with beer, is a popular tipple for many who find straight soju too strong, but aren't that keen on beer by itself.

As a result, one lively debate when Koreans gather to drink is the best ratio of the concoction. For some, pouring soju and beer into glasses is a chance to brag about their mixology skills and prime somaek combinations.

Others line up glasses and concentrate on mixing with all the intensity of a laboratory scientist.

But now, a new glass measuring cup takes the mystery out of making the concoction, allowing partiers to mix according to their favorite taste every time.

"One day, my daughter brought a beaker from her school. I started using it to not forget the golden ratio," said Woo Sang-taek, the designer and seller of the cup which has markings for mixing and cartoon faces for each different combination.

The 39-year-old Woo, who says he loves somaek more than any other drink, decided to share his idea about the cup and since late last year has sold thousands online.

The cup provides guides for all possible permutations, from the 1:9 soju to beer mix described as "gentle and smooth" up to "Blackout" -- a 5:5 mix.   Continued...