Arak is the local spirit of Bali. Arak  are traditional Balinese beverages originally used for religious ceremonies. During the ceremonies, the drinks will be spilled on to the offerings in a rituals believed to ward off evil spirits and to maintain the sacred aura of the vicinity. After the ceremonies, the beverages then socially consumed during the parties and cockfights that usually followed the ceremonies.

Arak is a colorless liquor distilled from rice or palm sap and comes in many qualities. The alcohol percentage ranges from 20 to 50% and you can find arak in everything from fancy bottles with golden logos to plastic bag tied with a knot.(Before you go and buy a plastic bag of Arak at the nearest warung a word of warning is in place. Please read the where to buy Arak post)
Apart from the obvious – drinking, arak is also used in religious ceremonies. Arak is spilled on offerings to ward off evil spirits and to maintain the sacred aura of the vicinity. Also you will see arak flowing among the local men at cock fights.

Arak can be enjoyed as it is or mixed as a cocktail.

Where to buy arak in Bali ?

It can be difficult to find Arak outside of Bali or Indonesia. If you manage to find one, make sure it is the Balinese variant you have find and not the Middle Eastern version, which tastes like anise in a way similar to pastis, raki and ouzo and won’t do anything good for your arak cocktails.

In Bali on the other hand Arak is available almost anywhere, but it comes with a warning. Many warungs – small local restaurants or shops – sell arak, often distilled locally and if you want an authentic arak experience the warungs is the place to go.

If you don’t feel like buying arak from a warung, another option is to go to an official liquor store and buy a proper bottled arak. That is 100% safe. I cannot guarantee that you won’t end up with a minor headache though. If you didn’t get a taste of arak while in Bali you still have the chance to grab a bottle at Denpasar airport – a great way to bring the taste of Bali back home.

Arak cocktail recipes

Here you have 5 arak cocktails that will spice up your holiday in Bali. All of them tasty and easy to make. If you don’t have arak you can use a white rum instead.

Arak Madu

Arak Madu – an arak classic that is also known as “the poor man’s margarita”. Shake or stir the following ingredients and serve in a cocktail glass:

• 5 cl arak
• 2 cl lime juice
• 2 cl of honey
• 1 cl water

Arak Attack

Another classic with Arak…

• 4 cl arak
• 1 cl grenadine
• Orange juice

Pour the arak and the grenadine into a glass with ice. Top with orange juice and enjoy.

Arak Caipirinha

Bali meets Brazil in a cocktail

• 5 cl arak
• 1 lime sliced into 8 wedges
• 2 tsp. of granulated sugar
• Ice cubes

Muddle the sugar into the lime wedges in a glass. Fill the glass with ice cubes. Add the arak and stir. This one is a great at the poolside.

Arak and coke

Back to basics. All you need is:
• 4 cl arak
• Coca cola

Pour the arak into a glass with ice. Fill up the glass with coke. If you prefer it a bit more posh, add a slice of lemon or lime.

Arak buck

• 5 cl arak
• 1 cointreau
• 12 cl ginger ale
• Juice of ¼ lemon

Shake or stir arak, Cointreau and lemon juice. Add ginger ale and ice.