The Best Drink in Seoul: Melonade at Into the Cave in Itaewon

The Best Drink in Seoul: Melonade at Into the Cave in Itaewon

I never thought a drink of honeydew melon and soda could bring a tear to my eye.

5 min read

Check out the full review below; this is a review of a single drink.

Into the Cave: High Quality Pub Food in Itaewon
A pub situated in the heart of Itaewon, Into the Cave provides a casual atmosphere which doesn’t make a distinction between whether you want a quick bite or drink.

Price

한글 🇰🇷 English 🇺🇸 Price 💵
멜론에이드 (논알코올 음료) Melonade (non-alcoholic) ₩5,000
멜론칵테일 Melon Cocktail ₩11,000

I had the non-alcoholic version; I don't drink.

What is it and why is it so good?

The drink itself is an incredibly simple mixture, yet the flavors that come from it are unparalleled, both at pubs and in any sort of soda or canned product you can purchase at the marts.

It consists of real honeydew melon, seemingly mixed with a cantaloupe at first glance at its veins, which is freshly cut by Juni (the owner) herself, Sprite (not Chilsung Cider), and a splash of syrup. You can request it to be sweeter if you'd like.

I have tried several hundred different drinks in Korea over the last two decades, and none are this good. The flavor profile of this is beyond any attempt at a melon-flavored drink I'm aware of.

What is the "flavor profile" of a honeydew melon itself? Concisely it is not acidic or overwhelming; a tropical tip-of-the-tongue taste, accented by very strong sugary tones, without the musky aftertaste of a normal melon. When properly ripe, it is unparalleled in sweetness, perhaps only comparable to a perfect watermelon.

It has a perfect crunchy texture which does not become soggy nor is at risk of losing flavor when submerged. A hint of honey shines through

The Drink

Served with a bent spoon to dig the melon chunks out later, you get a tall glass like this
Here's the spoon you use
The top has a signature two-slice melon presentation with a sprig of herb and two straws
The melon is extremely fresh
Veins of a melon are incredibly important when observing quality
These are real, thick, juicy slices of melon, not some gimmick
Good size as well
The ice is finely-crushed; if you've ever had Sonic Drive-Thru, this is exactly like their ice
When you're done, take the spoon (or fork; a fork is easier) and grab the melon pieces
Heaven

Melon Detour

Let's go on a quick detour—melons are popular everywhere, but extremely popular within Asia, and for good reason. They are regarded as a higher form of food, not just a mere melon, as you can see below:

In general, when someone orders an ice cream or drink, they're inherently going after something which pops in flavor and is sweet, hence their desire.

There's a species of melon above the rest which satisfies all the checkmarks: the muskmelon (Cucumis melo). Within this you'll find several melon varieties, the most abundant and popular between the netted cultivars is the common honeydew melon.

The history of melons themselves is rich and has deep roots within Asian culture, dating back to the thirteenth century of China and merchants bundling watermelons across rural plains of Western China, even further back if you dig into Mongolian history. A Daoist master-level monk by the name of Qiu Chuji was responsible at one point for harvesting various melons for Genghis Khan himself. Strangely, they passed within days of each other.

Point being, the influence of the melon, from its impact in pop culture to its presence within cuisine across China, Japan, and South Korea, is undeniable over the last millenium, and is something we often pay no attention to, nor love, especially in Western cuisine.

It is a flavor profile which has been painted over itself many times. The largest music player domestically, in place of Spotify, is even named melOn.

Melon
음악이 필요한 순간, 멜론

As you wander around shops, you'll find that the influence is not limited to food. There are melon soaps, face masks, body washes, foams, shampoos, skincare products, and more.

A powerful cultural food which is oft-overlooked.

Summary

There's not much more to say. As you order the drink, it is made right in front of you within a minute, and is made using top-tier ingredients. Although only a drink, the ingredients are what make it so good, and the quality of those ingredients will determine the final result.

I've had this a couple of times, and each time it is consistent and right on the money. There is no flavor difference; the drink is measured carefully and the flavor is calculated.

It is a perfect accent to any food which you order off the menu, including the burgers and more greasy foods, and will put a smile on your face.

The ice is crushed very fine, almost into a state of shaved ice, and strikes the perfect balance between almost-slushie and not-quite-slushie consistency.

I have a list of perfect-10's, for food and drink each, that I make sure not to splurge on too often. If know them by heart, and I could count them with two hands. This is one of the drinks that made it.

When you hear the ingredient list, you may pass it off as just another drink, but until you've physically tasted this, it means nothing.

The taste is singular, and it is without a doubt, the best drink in Seoul.

Unreal

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