An Arak Attack In Amed

After getting used to Indonesian beer, it was time to sample the local hooch.
After getting used to Indonesian beer, it was time to sample the local hooch.

AMED, Indonesia — Ignoring admonitions to keep away from the local hooch, my last night in Indonesia seemed as good a time as any to attempt it.

Billed as a palm wine, arak is actually Bali moonshine. I’d heard there was plenty of homegrown going around, some of it even potent enough to cause blindness if you drank from a bad batch. After imbibing my fill of Indonesia’s enjoyable Bali Hai, Bintang and Storm beers, I was ready for something stronger.

A lively crowd of locals and Westerners at Wawa Wewe — an open-air a nightclub-restaurant I spotted in Lipah, a few kilometers south of Amed, while motorbiking away the morning before a local cockfight — felt reassuring. (“Wawa Wewe,” the menu informed us, was a local phrase meaning, “No problem,” or as I like to say, “No pasa nada.”) Looking around, I saw neither shades being worn at night nor anyone stumbling into other diners. This, I figured, made it as good as any a place to imbibe adventurously.

Its most popular cocktail, the arak attack, is made from arak, honey, lemon and ice — a perfect complement to a warm Bali day — so I ordered one.

One drink later, I felt a bit like I’d done a shot of absinthe. Except with an aftertaste resembling fragrant aloe vera.

As a result, I suspect, the local cover band, performing rusty, phonetic versions of “Careless Whisper” and “Hey Jude” started to sound good enough for a singalong.

I declined a second round.

As an aside, I noticed that Air Asia was named World’s Best Low-Cost Airline in a global survey for the second year in a row. I’m not surprised and hope the business model catches on stateside.

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