Bali governor appeals to hotels, restaurants to sell more ‘arak’ traditional liquor

Bali Governor Wayan Koster. Photo: Bali Provincial Government
Bali Governor Wayan Koster. Photo: Bali Provincial Government

In a bid to promote Bali’s traditional liquor arak, Bali Governor Wayan Koster has asked the island’s hotels and restaurants to include the alcoholic beverage more prominently.

Having issued a gubernatorial regulation to push for the production and marketing of arak two years ago (followed by a president regulation issued by President Joko Widodo last year), Koster said earlier this week that he wishes to see arak products make up at least 50 percent of hotels and restaurants’ alcoholic beverages menus.

“So everyone needs to play their part in increasing the product quality of Bali’s arak, including the packaging. I will open the access [to] hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, the airport, and others,” he said, teasing a future regulation.

Balinese arak is a liquor made from coconut flower extract. Under a 2020 regional regulation, arak, along with tuak (another traditional drink made from coconut flower extracts but distinct from arak in fermentation method), and brem (traditional rice wine) were legalized, preserved as cultural heritages, and marked for further commercial development in Bali.

Koster’s backing for the commercialization of traditional Balinese liquors includes calling upon producers to include traditional scripture on drinks packages. The governor has also instructed for crackdowns on cane sugar-based arak, such as those produced in Karangasem.

Concerns have long been raised about cane-sugar arak containing harmful chemical additives. There were also fears that the product would threaten traditional coconut-based arak artisans, as well as ruin Bali’s reputation as the only source of genuine arak.

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