When I was in Bali last month the new Indonesian taxes on alcohol had raised the price of a bottle of Gwan Gwan Hoo (not Arak at all, really because it's made from rice and not palm sugar) to almost RP 150,000. I love the sweet pink Gwan Gwan Hoo, but that's a 300+% increase over last year. I had to find some new source of delicious, non-poisonous liquor. My Balinese friends in Bedulu, about 5 KM from Ubud, were helpful in finding some wonderful "Arak local" from Karingasem.


I live in Humboldt County, California. This are is well-known for a certain high-quality botanical contraband. It seems that Karangasem  (translatable as "arid land) is similarly known as the place where the finest arak is distilled. I bought several batches of well-made but over-diluted batches from a good source last month, and I think they were just adding too much water. I trust good arak over unknown water in Bali, so I asked for some full-strength product and was able to get a few bottles of really good Karangasem arak for about RP25,000 per bottle (650 ml). The stuff I'd been able to get in bulk previously was quite weak, maybe 40 to 60 proof, but still good and well-made, and it was RP20,000 per bottle. The Arak I bought when I asked for something special is still making me happy, as I have a water-bottle of it in my freezer here in California.


Let's share a glass of arak madu on my porch in Bedulu when we are both lucky enough to be in Bali at the same time. We should be at home there by next year at this time.

Yours in thirst,
Barry Thorpe