Only one scoop for me, please. I'm driving

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Only one scoop for me, please. I'm driving

Buy ice cream at a department store nowadays and you might just have to show your identification card. As if all the flavors at ice cream shops aren't enough, an entrepreneur is making makgeolli ice cream, featuring the unrefined rice wine favored by the peninsula's farming folk.

Makgeolli has always been a low-brow drink. It's cheap and comes in plastic bottles. Its taste takes some getting used to; it can be a little off-putting at first. But mixed with milk, sugar syrup and ice, it becomes a light, refreshing treat -- and one that can get you a little tipsy. And yes, you have to be at least 18 years old to buy it.

The brains behind the new treat is a local woman in her late 30s, Kim Ju-yeon. After being a housewife for seven years, she decided she wanted to do something on her own. A self-described ice cream fanatic, Ms. Kim started creating ice cream recipes using using natural ingredients like fruits. One day in 1999, she got curious about making ice cream with an alcoholic beverage. She tried a batch made with red wine, and was pleased with the results. Then the thought sprang to mind: "Why not makgeolli?"

The cloudy rice wine is a drink of the common man, and has always been especially popular with farmers. But another group that drinks a lot of makgeolli is Korea University students. So Ms. Kim chose a shop at the university as the place to start selling her invention.

The coeds at Korea University took to it, but not without a few reservations. "At the very least, it provokes your interest," said Ahn Jeong-ho, a mechanical engineering major at the school. "And once you have a bite, it's not bad at all."

At first glance, makgeolli ice cream looks just like vanilla ice cream. At first bite, it tastes fair to middling, rather like green tea ice cream. Its texture is something like sherbet. And the alcohol taste is rather subtle. While makgeolli in liquid form is 12 percent alcohol, the ice cream is only 6 percent alcohol.

Ms. Kim's recipe for one serving of the ice cream uses about 60 milliliters of the rice wine, along with milk, syrup and ice. "The most important thing is to use the best quality makgeolli," she says. "The thicker the better." She buys hers from a makgeolli maker in Pocheon, Gyeonggi province.

After its successful start debut at the university shop, Ms. Kim has started to sell the rice wine ice cream to department stores. It has also gotten some publicity at a Web site as a health food, being promoted right next to ginseng ice cream.

And Ms. Kim isn't resting on her laurels; she is constantly experimenting with new flavors, and has already made recipes for beer ice cream and Coca-Cola ice cream. "Anything can be ice cream," she says.

by Chun Su-jin

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