One of the major joys of visiting a foreign country is experimenting with local food and drinks. It just adds to the experience of being somewhere exotic, and it is fun to try new things. Unfortunately it is easy to miss out on traditional Balinese dishes because many restaurants fill up their menu with Chinese, Indian, and standard Indonesian dishes. Sampling some of the local drinks is a bit more straightforward as these are available everywhere. Caution though is advised with some of the alcoholic concoctions, because they can be quite strong.
Alcohol in Bali
Alcohol is legal throughout Indonesia, but the government tries to discourage consumption by applying high taxes – as high as 300%. In Bali there is fierce competition between the drinking establishments so it is possible to find some good deals on beers and cocktails – 2 for the price of one is common. It is also possible to buy relatively cheap alcoholic drinks from supermarkets. Visitors to Bali are also allowed to bring in 1 liter of spirits when they land.
Popular Beers in Bali
There are a number of popular local beers that visitors can try during their stay including:
Bintang is the best selling beer in Indonesia. It has a distinct flavor of malt and hops, and it is similar to an American Pale larger. People who normally enjoy Heineken are almost certain to like a cool Bintang. A regular bottle of this beer has an alcoholic strength of 4.7%, but it is also possible to buy a low alcohol version called Bintang Zero which has an alcoholic strength of less than 1%. The cost of this beer in Bali can range from anywhere from IDR 15,000 ($1.60) to IDR 30,000 ($3.20) for a standard bottle.
Anker beer is a rival of Bintang beer. It is made by Jakarta Brewing and has a stronger taste](http://www.gamedayeats.com/anker-beer-by-curt/). It costs about the same price as Bintang in most venues so the main reason for choosing it is personal preference.
Bali Hai is a cheap local beer. It was originally only available on the island, but it has become fairly popular all over Indonesia with people who want to drink cheaply. It is actually brewed in Jakarta and not in Bali. It has been described as a bland beer, but a cold Bali Hai is fine on a hot day.
The only beer that could truly be described as local would be Storm Beer. It is produced by a microbrewery. There is a fascinating history for the origins of this beer. It is said to have been created by an exiled Englishman called Thomas Storm at the turn of the last century. He came from a family of brewers and took all their secrets with him. Today there is a range of Storm Beers to suit every palate.
Popular Spirits, Liqueurs, and Wines in Bali
Visitors who fancy something a bit stronger than beer will find plenty to satisfy them in Bali. Some of the most popular liqueurs, spirits, and wines include:
Arak (Arrack) is a distilled alcoholic drink that can be made from different ingredients, but in Bali tends to be made from Sugarcane. It is sometimes referred to as the rum of Indonesia. There have been concerns about this spirit because of cases of methanol-tainted arrack. There have been a number of deaths related to consuming methanol tainted Arak – including an Australian rugby player. This drink can be as strong as 70% alcohol.
Bali Moon is a flavored liqueur. It comes in different flavors including; coffee, pineapple, banana, coconut, and melon. Bali Moon cocktails are available everywhere on the island. They usually cost anywhere from IDR 30,000 ($3.20) to IDR 100,000 ($10.60).
Tuak is a type of rice wine. It is made from rice, sugar, and yeast. It is relatively easy to make so cheap to buy. This alcoholic drink is often served at Balinese festivals, and it is also used in some of the local cocktails. It has a sharp biting taste that not everyone will appreciate.
Tourists are likely to see Brem Bali on sale in gift shops – usually in an ornate bottle. It is a type of fermented rice wine that is made locally. Brem can also be consumed as a fermented food in the form of a Brem cake. The drink is unremarkable in regards to taste, it is just like other rice wines, but visitors may choose to buy it as a gift because they like the packaging.
Australians have been flocking to Bali from decades, and they are beginning to leave their mark there. One of the things that they are credit with introducing is wine. A group of enterprising Aussies decided to take wine grapes from their homeland and begin growing them in Bali. The original and most famous Balinese wine is called Hatten, and connoisseurs claim that it is not bad at all.
Non Alcoholic Drinks in Bali
Not everyone who comes to Bali will be looking to get intoxicated. These individuals will not be disappointed because there are plenty of interesting non alcoholic drinks available too.
Kopyor is one of the most refreshing drinks available on the island. Real kopyor comes from mutated coconuts. Unlike regular coconuts, which have their meat attached to the wall of the shell in a solid form, this mutant has a loose and spongier meat. Kopyor is more expensive to buy than regular coconut, but some would say that it is worth the extra money because it is so much sweeter than the average coconut. As well as being available as a drink it can also be used as a desert.
Teh Panas is a local tea that can be wonderfully refreshing on a hot day. In Bali tea is traditionally served black with sugar. It is also possible to drink this tea with added ginger for a more unique taste.
Coffee lovers are advised to try the local brew which is called Kopi Bali. Indonesia is actually the world’s third largest coffee exporter so they do know a thing or two about this beverage. The beans used in Kopi Bali tend to be of high quality, but there can be a good deal of variation in taste.