Best Indonesian Local Spirits to Try

Best Indonesian Local Spirits to Try

Vodka, Whiskey, Brandy might be familiar to your ears, but, how about Ciu or Congyang? Indonesia is surely a diverse country, with more than 700 dialects and 17.000 islands, but have you ever heard about traditional spirits that are made in Indonesia?. With a long history of colonization and national war, traditional alcoholic drinks are easily found since then. Although alcohol is not easily sold because of the government regulations, Indonesia has a list of traditional drink that you can try while visiting Indonesia

Below is the list of the popular local spirits in Indonesia: 

Arak Bali

Arak Bali

The famous traditional spirit from the dewata island is finally legalized since 2020. Arak Bali is made from distilled sap of sugar palm or the glutinous rice. Arak Bali is known because of its distinct taste and it also acts as a warmer. Besides its function, a warmer to the body, Arak Bali can also be used as a traditional medicine to cool the body. You can also use this as the substitute for your usual vodka, you can use the mixture of Arak Bali and spices such as cinnamon or even sour fruit like lime, and then use the liquid for food ingredients. Back then, you can find this drink when there are ceremonies or Balinese rituals such as Tabuhan, sending an offering to the gods. But nowadays, Arak Bali is even sold as a souvenir that you can bring back home.

Ciu

On the island of Java, a famous spirit called Ciu was born in the region of Banyumas and Solo. The history of Ciu can be traced back to the colonization Era. Ciu was found in the 18th centuries, during the time of the Netherlands colonization in central java’s sugar plantation, and because of the old hand of bananas people that usually work for the alcohol factory, they can create Ciu. Every part of Central Java have their version of Ciu, but this clear spirit usually has a distinct sweet taste and might be similar to the international spirit, vodka. Young people or social drinkers usually mix Ciu with soft drinks to soften the taste.

Congyang

Congyang

In the center place of central java, Semarang, a drink called Congyang was born. Congyang was made in the Chinatown part of the city in 1980, a rumor spreads that this drink is an evolution of the older version of alcoholic drink that is also made in Semarang called A Djong. Congyang is made from a mixture of white rice, sugar, and spirit. The taste of Congyang might remind you of the taste of whiskey, so a glass of congyang will surely warm your body on a cold night. The distributor of Congyang only distributes Congyang throughout Semarang City, so it’s one of the beverages that you should try if you come to Semarang.

Sopi

for Flores people, that live in the eastern part of Indonesia, Sopi might be legendary and prestigious. Originated in the 15th century, this spirit name is taken from the Dutch word of zoopje, which means “liquid alcohol”. Sopi is made from distilled sap of the palm sugar tree mixed with the root of husor and takes up to 15 days until Sopi is fermented perfectly. The taste of Sopi is usually tangy and slightly sweet; it can also be mixed with spices and roots. When you’re in the Flores island, you can easily find Sopi be served in special events and rituals or ceremonies. The Flores people savor Sopi as an important item in Flores.

Saguer

Saguer, a drink that is said to be the ‘minahasan version’ of Tuak, is popular for people from the eastern part of Indonesia. The name of saguer was originated from the Indonesian word of ‘Air Sagu’ or ‘Sago Water’ because the color of Saguer might remind you of the white color of sago water. This spirit is made from the fermented sap of the palm tree. In the process of making saguer, the fresh palm tree sap will be mixed with the fermented sap of the palm tree. The taste of saguer is sweet and tangy, with a hint of bitterness. In the colonization era, Saguer was said to be the traditional pride of Minahasan people. Nowadays, it’s not easy to find saguer compared to the old days.

In the modern era, Saguer might be more well-known as Cap Tikus. The information of this drink was also written by Antonio Pigafetta, Spanish globe trotter Columbus. Tracing back to the history of it, The king of ternate give this drink to the ship that arrived, and Antonio Pigafetta was included in it. So we can say that this drink was purely made by Indonesian without the influence of other races in it.

Swansrai

Swansrai

One of the fertile islands in Indonesia, Papua, is also making its traditional alcoholic drink. If you come to this island and papuanese serve you a glass of Swansrai, you should be honored because they only serve it to important figures, respected people, or their own family. Swansrai is made from fermented coconut water and they usually use coconut that already yellowed for the fermentation. Because it is made from coconut water, Swansrai is usually also served in a coconut shell. You might wonder how it would taste like. Swansrai taste like strong alcohol with a hint of bitterness, so you would feel warm when you drink it at first because of the alcohol content in it. The alcohol percentage of Swansrai is similar to Tuak, which is around 20-30%, so you might want to try it when the weather is cold. Swansrai is not so popular for their citizen so it might be pretty hard for you to find this spirit.

Anggur Merah Orang Tua

Angur Merah

Right now, this drink might be the most popular among Indonesian young adults. Because of the famous name of ‘Anggur Orang Tua’, in 1995 a company made it to be the company’s name. Anggur Merah Orang Tua is a spirit that is intended to be mixed with jamu that usually sold in the small stall that sold Indonesian herb mixture called Jamu. You might think that this drink might be similar to wine, but actually, it is not. Anggur Merah Orang Tua taste is sweet with a hint of tanginess. Nowadays, it is easy to find the brand of Orang Tua, you can buy it through social media or even e-commerce. 

Now you have several recommendations of traditional spirits that are made in Indonesia and you can try while visiting Indonesia. we hope this article will help you to explore more about Indonesia. Also, don’t forget to see other recommendations in our blog.

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