Arak Attack. Alcohol Review in Indonesia

The new Criminal Code of Indonesia has already caused a lot of controversy due to a scandalous provision regarding punishment for extramarital sexual relations. It turns out that there are elements in it that concern not only adulterers but also regular patrons of drinking establishments.
The new law, set to take effect in two years, prohibits selling alcohol to intoxicated individuals. Bartenders, waiters, and, to a certain extent, owners of entertainment establishments where overindulgent patrons are served will be criminally liable. Authorities threaten a trip to the "Kerobokan Hotel" for up to one year for such violations. What should one do if bars suddenly start selling alcohol exclusively in homeopathic doses?
Until the government prohibits alcohol entirely, I hasten to share valuable information. No matter where people relax, they sometimes need their "firewater," but enthusiasts will inevitably notice that the price of this water in Bali is sometimes excessively high. You walk into Circle-K and marvel at the fact that alcohol there costs twice as much as it does in your homeland.
In this matter, of course, it is necessary to understand and find a solution. Let's start by distinguishing between imported and local alcohol.
There are several solutions to dealing with imported alcohol.
Importation in Indonesia is expensive, and this is understandable. Firstly, it is a predominantly Muslim country, so we should be grateful that they sell us beverages stronger than kefir at all. In islands predominantly inhabited by Muslims, such as Java, obtaining alcohol is generally problematic; you need to know the right people. Secondly, excise taxes on imported spirits are high. Thirdly, imports in the country are more or less monopolized, which also doesn't bring prices down. What should one do if questionable solutions like a healthy lifestyle or breatharianism are unacceptable for us?
The simplest and wallet-damaging method is to go to Circle K, Pepito, or Mini Mart and purchase Red Label at the price of a used cast iron bridge – around a million rupiahs. A slightly more intricate approach is to find a Bottle Avenue store, which is present in almost every tourist area in Bali. Prices there will be lower, the selection much broader, and you might encounter like-minded individuals. Bali Jaya is another store worth mentioning. In Kuta and its surroundings, there are many small shops with reasonable prices for low-to-mid-range alcohol like inexpensive vodka, beer, wine, modestly-aged whiskies, and even peculiar concoctions like "whisky-flavored" but unpleasant in all aspects, DRUM. If you need something better and more affordable, read on.
For purchasing beverages at the level of Red Label, Jim Beam, good vodka, tequila, and other options, up to premium brands, I recommend using online stores with delivery. Importantly, they often offer 24-hour delivery. By the way, you can also buy champagne for New Year's Eve. Wowbooze, Godrinks, and several others are available. My favorite is Boogaloobali. It has not disappointed in terms of quality, delivery speed is acceptable, and the alcohol selection is quite diverse. There are other reputed online stores as well, but I haven't personally verified them. All of them are easily found on Google with the query "alcohol on Bali online." How these online sellers manage to keep prices about half as much as offline stores is unknown.
Another option, not the fastest but probably the most economical, is to ask a dear friend flying to the island to bring a liter of any beverage from the duty-free. You can try bringing more, but be aware of the risks; if customs notice, they will undoubtedly confiscate the "liquid gold."
Certainly, there are also bars and restaurants where they sometimes sell a variety of drinks, but that's, of course, a different story. As mentioned earlier, they might soon stop pouring freely there as well.
What can the local market offer us?
First and foremost, it's beer. Local varieties may not boast any particularly interesting flavors, but overall, they quench your thirst and even contain alcohol. There are a few tasty brands like Ludwig Kunnig or Kura-kura, but they are a bit more expensive than our usual choices - Bintang and Singaraja. On the island, you'll find several craft breweries and restaurants serving good beer, such as The Melting Pot Saloon in Ubud, Black Sand Brewery in Canggu, and Forge in Seminyak. Prices there usually start from 80 rupiahs for a 330 ml.
Perhaps you didn't know, but in Bali, there are wineries. You can even visit at least one of them, wander through the workshops and cellars, and partake in what the website calls a tasting. I'm talking about the Sababay winery in the Sanur area. By the way, in my opinion, they produce the best local wines, but you can always debate with me and explore brands like Two Islands, Hatten, Plaga, or the relatively new brand - Isola Wine. By the way, all these wines are also available at Bottle Avenue stores, which I mentioned earlier, as well as at Vineyard and Red & White chains. If you are interested in wines from foreign brands, you can find a store with a good selection in each area. These include the chains mentioned earlier, as well as Wine House Bali and Bali Wine Store in Seminyak, AJ’s Barrel Bottle Shop BALI, Wine & Company Canggu, and Wine Stop in Canggu, Bali Wine Store Ubud in Ubud, and Wine Shop - CV. Putra Agung - Sanur, as is evident from the name, in Sanur.
Alcohol as part of culture
Of course, one cannot talk about local Balinese alcohol without mentioning arak. It is produced from the sap of the coconut palm, undergoing various fermentation processes. If you are interested in the process itself, you can visit, for example, the village of Tri Eka Bhuana Village. By the way, Bali's mayor, Wayan Koster, enthusiastically promotes the traditional beverage and urges hotels and restaurants to actively sell it. Arak is often found on the menus of local establishments either in its pure form or as the base for cocktails. One of the most well-known is the Arak Attack with grenadine and orange juice. Or Arak Madu with honey and lime juice.
Arak has a unique taste, is quite strong - around 50 degrees, and importantly, it is very affordable. In various local shops and even along the roads, you can purchase it for around 25k for 500 ml. You just need to ensure that such arak is as clear as a baby's tear and does not have sharp odors. Of course, there are more expensive options, presented in beautiful clay vessels, but the packaging almost does not affect the content. It goes well with Schweppes and a lime wedge and can serve as the base for various cocktails as a substitute for rum, for example.
Another interesting local beverage is Anggur merah. It's a local wine with a rather sweet taste, but Indonesians have found a solution by mixing it with beer in a 50/50 ratio. The taste becomes significantly more pleasant. So much so that one of the local brands even produces ready-to-drink canned cocktails with this mix. The cost of a bottle of Angkor merah varies from 55 to 100 rupiahs for 750 ml, making it a serious competitor to local beer.
Additionally, it's worth mentioning homemade productions of liqueurs, whiskey, vermouths, cocktails, and other drinks by fellow countrymen. Typically, you can find them on Instagram and through word of mouth. The range of these beverages is broad and sometimes astonishing. For example, wine made from mangosteen. Once, I even tried a liqueur made from the king of all fruits - durian.
In general, despite alcohol prices being higher in Indonesia compared to, for example, Vietnam or Thailand, you won't die of thirst here, and you can always find a drink suitable for the moment and mood, whether it's a smoothie made from grated space butterflies or a robust Arak Attack. Cheers, gentlemen and ladies, or selamat minum, as they say in Indonesia.
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