[image via eOasia]
If we talk about Balinese culture and tradition, then we will never find where the "finish point" is. Aside from Balinese culture and tradition, you might never know that Bali has an alcoholic traditional drink, called Arak (pronounced A-rak). This kind of traditional drink is easily found in Bali especially in the eastern part of Bali, Karangasem.
[image via Southeast Asia Wander]
Arak is a colorless alcohol drink distilled from rice or palm flowers and comes in many qualities. The alcohol percentage ranges from 20 to 50% and you can find arak in everything from fancy bottles with golden logos to plastic bag tied with a knot. Arak is usually served with special dishes for adults, also served at various ceremonies including funerals, wedding, and other Balinese ceremonies. In fact, liquor production in Indonesia is prohibited, in Bali, Arak is also produced for religious ceremonies as part of offerings.
[image by Nikita Kuryatnikov]
Normally, local people drink Arak when evening comes, men will go to their friends’ house, or community hall, then pouring Arak into a small cup then give into other members in turn. Everyone seems enjoying their drink while joking and talking to each other. In addition, Arak also can be used as traditional medicine to heal rheumatism till relieve itching.
[image via Travel Kompas]
Tri Eka Bhuana Village which is situated in eastern part of Bali is one the famous villages that produce Arak for 25 years back. Almost 90% of villagers are Arak makers and they are all able to make Arak with a very good quality.
[image via Travel Kompas]
Every morning, men take the palm tree flowers by climbing up the tree then the flowers are split open for 'tuak' or palm juice. It is then poured into containers, and the fermentation of 'tuak' is done by producers. When the producers think 'tuak' is ready to be used for Arak, then the distillation process is begun. It usually begins from 05.00 to 15.00, and this process can be done by both men and women.
[image via BeritaBenar]
At the end, arak then packaged in a plastic mineral water bottle, this packaging is the traditional one. The alcohol level may vary depending on how long the distillation process and it also can be divided into several levels. For the first level is in between 35% to 50%, arak in this level is also being called "most pure arak", and it looks as clear as water. The second level is 30% and it looks a bit yellowish. The third till the fourth level is 25% - 20% and the color seems similar with the second level. Arak is valued in between IDR 35,000 - IDR 50,000 for a small bottle.
[Arak Dewi Sri; image via Indonesia Drinks]
[Arak Gwan Gwan Hoo (GGH); image by Lori Newman]
If you visit Bali, be sure you try this kind of Balinese traditional drink, you will not only see Arak being sold in some small mineral water bottles by local but also Arak producers nowadays already think out of the box, they normally produce Arak and packaged nicely completed with labelled versions i.e. Dewi Sri and Gwan Gwan Hoo, and almost all of Arak producers nowadays produce Arak by using both traditional and modern equipment.