Since ancient times, alcoholic drinks have been developed by indigenous people in the archipelago. Some panels in the reliefs of Borobudur Temple are seen by beverage sellers, small shops, and there are panels that describe buildings with people drinking (maybe alcoholic drinks), dancing and enjoying fun, such as displaying taverns or restaurant houses
According to Chinese sources, Yingya Shenglan (15th century), Javanese people in the Majapahit kingdom drank wine made from palm sap called tuak (arak). However, in the 16th century, Islam began to adopt Hinduism and Buddhism as the main religions in Indonesia.
Since then, as a Muslim country, Indonesian Muslims have shared Islamic dietary laws that spend alcoholic beverages. However, the culture of drinking alcohol still survives, fewer among members who are less religious and among non-Muslim communities. Certain ethnocultural regions which are predominantly Christian are known for their proximity to the tradition of drinking alcohol; like Batak people, Toraja, Minahasa, and Ambon.
Indonesia has its own traditional alcoholic drinks made by fermenting grains of rice, gluten, palm sugar and coconut. According to culinary expert William Wongso, the culture of drinking distilled alcohol has never been strong in Indonesia, with only a few regions developing it.
Indonesian Alcoholic Beverages
This alcoholic drink from Bali is fermented from sticky rice or sap from sugar palm or coconut. At first, this alcoholic beverage was used for traditional rituals and ceremonies, but today, anyone can enjoy its unique and warming taste. Arak is also a popular souvenir to take home and share with your friends. But before you buy it, make sure to get the well-known bonafide brand to prevent the contamination inside the mixing.
Traditionally, Brem is used to replacing blood in Balinese ceremonies. Brem Bali has an appetizing red color from black sticky rice, or “ketan hitam,” which is used during the fermentation process. The alcohol content is lower than Arak Bali, only around 3-10%, this makes it an alternative for those who have lower alcohol toleran. This drink also has a taste with a slightly sour taste.
Ballo is another variation of fermented palm sap from Toraja, South Sulawesi. Made almost exclusively from palm trees, this traditional drink was originally used for rituals as treats for guests and ancestral spirits. In addition to a 5-10% alcohol concentration, ballo also has high sugar content, making it somewhat unsafe for daily consumption, warm and soothing when enjoyed moderately with traditional snacks. This traditional drink is the best served in bamboo.
The Batak community in North Sumatra enjoys their wines at celebrations and special occasions. Tuak is a type of palm wine, sometimes containing dried fruits which provide a sweeter taste. To this day, in the marriage of Batak people and other ceremonies often attended by Batak people, special glasses are provided to drink tuak.
The discovery of sugarcane-based wine can be traced back to Central Java as a center for plantations and sugar production during the colonial era. Different areas in Central Java have their own ciu, but the traditional alcoholic sweet drink has alcohol levels start at 50% and more.
Made with a long process of distillation and fermentation, this drink is very popular in Flores, Maluku and other nearby regions in Eastern Indonesia. The main ingredient is a type of sugar that gives a strong taste with a little sweetness. On Flores, sopi is considered a prestigious drink served on special occasions and for distinguished guests, making it a symbol of togetherness and celebration.
According to the legend of Minahasa, North Sulawesi, sago was created by the gods. Until the 18th century, saguer was considered sacred and therefore could not be traded on the market. This traditional drink is similar to sopi, but there are various traditions and rituals associated with it.
When you come to Indonesia, you can try to have there drinks with your new local friends. You can also practice your Indonesian language skills. Don’t for get to take the Indonesian language course online on Cakap to make your practice easier. You can purchase the Bahasa Indonesia Learning Package and learn the language with professional native teachers. What are you waiting for? Come and learn a new language with a new way.