All the Things to Know about Tuak & Arak, the Ancient Balinese Alcohols

IMG-All the Things to Know about Tuak & Arak, the Ancient Balinese Alcohols

Tuak and Arak, the ancient Balinese alcohols, are you curious what they are? If you were once in Bali, you must have heard or probably tasted them. Yes, Bali is rich in many traditional foods and drinks and two of them are what have been mentioned earlier.

Tuak and arak are 2 typical alcoholic beverages of Bali that have a lot of meaning. Not only are they consumed for relaxing but also local people use them as part of rituals. They are added as sacrifices to Bhuta Kala, a monster in Balinese Hindu who disturbs the human’s peace and environment. In their belief, tuak and arak are the monster’s favorite drinks. That’s why some Balinese avoid drinking them as they may behave like Bhuta Kala.

While some Balinese may use those alcohols for rituals, some others keep drinking them and even selling tuak and arak for visitors. These actions are still permitted and not considered to violate the rule of their religion at all. That’s why it is reasonable if tuak and arak are often hunted by tourists. Well, if you wonder what are the differences between tuak and arak, here they are.


Tuak is basically a traditional Indonesian alcohol that is made from nira or sap of certain plants such as palm, rice, and sugar cane. Some productions of tuak also utilize coconut water as the main ingredient. That’s why the taste of tuak tends to be sweet. While some people may get drunk after drinking tuak, some others particularly local people may not. It is because they often drink this beverage so that what they taste is sweet only.

On the other hand, Balinese arak is also made from nira or the sap of palm. Arak itself is a term referring to alcoholic drinks in many parts of Asia. The ingredients tend to be different from one to another. Then, the typical ingredient of Balinese arak is nira only, not the others.

Fermentation Processed

While tuak and Balinese arak have almost similar ingredients, the sap of palm trees, the production process is different. This makes the final tastes different as well. The nira or sap that is taken from the tree is kept in certain storage for some hours before it is processed into Tuak. The Tuak maker usually has prepared some fermentation media such as the coconut fiber, the peel of bayur wood, and kutat wood. Those woods are typical plants growing widely on Bali Island. Those mediums are naturally wet and they have been dried for around 14-20 days.

The fermentation process of tuak only takes around a day. In one day, the sap can simply produce alcohol without any additional process or ingredients. However, it cannot be served immediately after that but the water needs to be filtered. It is to separate the tuak water with the fermentation media. Meanwhile, the fermentation process of arak, and the media are the same. They are coconut fiber, the peel of bayur wood, and kutat wood that have benefits that are dried for more than 2 weeks. Although the media are the same, the fermentation process of Balinese arak is longer, it is around 2-3 days. Next, the fermented water is traditionally distilled using bamboo pipes for 12 hours, commonly starting at 5 AM to 5 PM.

During the distillation process, the water is also boiled to produce vapor. The fire used for boiling should be made of wood to add flavor to the final result. After the distillation and boiling processes are done, Balinese arak is ready to serve.

Alcohol Levels

Tuak has a lower level of alcohol than Balinese arak. The alcohol content is only 8 percent of the total water that is processed. That’s why for some people, tuak is not intoxicating at all. They may only feel a little dizzy after drinking some cups of it.

On the other hand, arak has more alcohol levels in the range of 30 to 50 percent. People who want to taste arak without being too intoxicated commonly use it as an additional ingredient for juice or cocktails. If you don’t have too much experience in alcoholic drinks, it is suggested to be very careful when consuming arak. Yes, many tourists end up with a hangover after drinking arak.

In addition, although in general, arak has more alcohol than tuak, it doesn’t mean that the alcohol level in tuak cannot be increased. Through the distillation process just like arak, the alcohol level in Tuak can easily go up. It becomes an alternative for people who prefer the taste of Tuak but want to have more alcohol in it.

High-Quality Arak in Shrida Ubud

Shrida Ubud is an exclusive restaurant in Ubud, Bali. It provides local and international cuisine by professional and experienced chefs. Some of the beverage menus available in this restaurant are made from original high-quality Balinese arak. One of them is Arak Mint Sour. To enjoy them make sure to book the bar & lounge only in Shrida Ubud.

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