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You can now get a hoppy meal in South Korea as a “premium” McDonald’s there will introduce beer to the menu to increase the chain’s appeal with young adults (the legal drinking age in South Korea is 19). The location will be the first McDonald’s in Asia to serve alcohol.
In Korea, the pairing of burgers and beer has become increasingly popular, and McDonald’s is eager to get a cut of the profits. McDonald’s teen customers have sharply dropped in the last several years such that adults make up the majority of its consumer base, leaving the restaurant more open to an age-restricted menu.
“We have concluded that it is time for a ‘burmaek’ (a compound of ‘burger’ and ‘maekju’ -- beer in Korean), just as Korea has become the epicenter of ‘chimaek’ (chicken and beer) and ‘pimaek’ (pizza and beer) craze,” a McDonald’s Korea spokesman told the Korea Herald. The beer (one per burger) will only be served with the restaurant’s customizable “signature burger” selection.
McDonald’s already serves alcohol in Germany, France, Spain, and Italy, but remains off-limits in the United States, perhaps because the company is keen to retain its family-friendly appeal. Taco Bell, meanwhile, has opened Taco Bell Cantina in Chicago, a sleeker version of the Tex-Mex chain that serves beer, wine, and even spiked frozen drinks. Another location of Taco Bell Cantina is slated to open in San Francisco.
If the first alcoholic McDonald’s does well in South Korea, the company will likely expand its boozy burger business throughout the country.