Arak Attack!

I have to write this quick, before I sober up and refuse to admit that I’m subject to such excess. Tonight I ordered a glass of Balinese rice wine. Brem. It comes in red or white. “I sorry, no have,” the wait staff was apologetic. I perused the menu, searching for an alternative. Beet juice, turmeric and ginger, lime fizz…nothing quite does it when all you really want is Brem.

Bali has another alcoholic drink. It’s notoriously potent. As I scanned the options I saw that Arak was one of the offerings in the extensive list. “Well, why not,” I said to myself. “No Brem…I’ll try Arak.” For the sake of the story, you need to know that I ate papaya for breakfast. Later in the day I had a slice of whole grain bread and a cup of coffee. So when I started sipping my glass of Arak with a little lime juice squeezed into it, the time was about 5:00 p.m. After two swallows I knew I had alcohol in my system. I was there to discuss joint business opportunities with a new contact.

Within 15 minutes a stunning young woman wearing a scarf that identically matched her crystalline blue eyes, arrived. She ordered the beet juice so I distinctly had the advantage. I was far wittier, more brilliant, and knowledgeable about life, love, (or is that liberty?) and the pursuit of happiness than anyone else she could ever have possibly met. However, I’ve been around awhile and I know my limitations. When my lips go numb it’s time to shut my mouth. So I did, and listened. Over the next two hours I sipped, listened, nodded, and sipped a bit more. She was delightful. We exchanged cards and she departed to keep a dinner date with her husband.

I sat as dusk gathered. The wait staff brought out candles and the tables flickered in the evening glow. I ordered a Greek salad. It arrived, neatly wrapped to take out, and I stood to leave. My eyes crossed. I took a step, stopped, focused, and took another step. I felt like two people, one of whom was stone cold sober, observing and aware of what needed to be done, and the other quite decidedly fuzzle headed and not firing on all cylinders. The two of us had a quick pow-wow and it was agreed that the stone cold sober one would walk us home. Thankfully it wasn’t far and she did a good job. Once inside the house, the full Arak attack took over and fuzzle head wasted no time. She fumbled with the knot securing the bag of salad, tried to remember where the forks were kept, and settled for a soup spoon.

I don’t drink much. One beer, one glass of wine, and I’m good. But all alcohol is not created equal, and let’s just say, Arak is in a league of its own. I’m glad I tried it. The closest thing to it, in my limited experience, is Scandinavian Aquavit…nasty stuff that should be outlawed or just used in place of diesel fuel. Arak doesn’t bite. Arak just slips down with a cozy burn. But it should come with one of those cautionary FDA labels…take only with meals…do not drive or operate heavy machinery. And I would add, WARNING: may cause temporary fuzzle-headedness!


Arak Production

Arak Production


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