Monday, 9 May 2011

Food Glossary: Arak

Arak is a traditional Balinese alcohol made from rice or palm-sap and sometimes referred to as rice wine.  The drink is often used in religious ceremonies but also became popular with tourists visiting the Indonesian islands in the 1980s when the term ‘Arak Attack’ was coined as the effects from the alcohol are so swift.

The controversial drink is colourless and sugarless and with a 20 – 50% alcohol content is as you can imagine very strong and not something many enjoy sipping with their dinner!  I sampled it whilst staying on Lombok and one shot was more than enough….I actually wimped out of even that and asked for lemonade to accompany it.

After doing further research it seems this drink has gained negative media coverage in recent years for a bad batch being the cause of 35 deaths in 2009, the batch had methanol traces in it.  As with many products/experiences that become popular with tourists everyone wants a piece of the action which led sadly, to many unlicensed companies producing the drink and trying to increase its alcohol content by adding methanol.

So if you do decide to sample the drink whilst visiting then just remember to ensure that it has been produced by a licenced producer and/or is being sold in a safe environment.


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