Arak in Indonesia: Alcoholic Mixer or Lethal Cocktail?
The national snack krupuk, crispy shrimp crackers, typically generate a thirst for some sort of liquid refreshment. Indonesia’s award-winning national beer brand, Bintang, is an excellent choice.
Arak is the name for a type of locally made alcohol that is quite a bit bolder. Ranging anywhere from 30-50% alcohol by volume, this local spirit is distilled from fermented coconut flower sap, palm sap or rice. Considering Indonesia’s Muslim majority, most Indonesians are not drinkers. The Koran bans the faithful from imbibing in alcohol made from grain or fruit. However, there is no mention of drinking alcohol made from flower or sap. So many would ask: “why not?”
Khiri Travel Indonesia recommends travelers avoid consuming inexpensive arak available from backyard bootleggers (sometimes called Indonesian moonshine) and stick to reputable brands and suppliers. However, there have been cases of arak, both illicit and major store brands, being tainted and causing potentially fatal alcohol poisonings. In this respect, sticking to Bintang beer would wisely be the better choice.
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