Food & Drink

Try These 11 Popular Indonesian Drinks (With Cocktail Recipes)

These 11 popular Indonesian drinks offer a journey across the nation’s diverse cultures to experience indulgence, aroma and (perhaps) enlightenment.

indonesian drinks

Sufian Mahmoud, head bartender at the Four Seasons, Bali, curates his signature “zero-waste” menu of cocktails. Courtesy Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

By Justin Calderón

Oct 1, 2021

INDONESIAN DRINKS OFFER a visual and flavor-charged journey across the archipelago’s many cultures, absorbing techniques from ancient Javanese customs of tea brewing to present-day Balinese cocktail-making. This marriage of traditional and modern also makes Indonesian drinks — specifically their creative cocktail recipes — a stunningly imaginative and delectable testament to the history and mystery that this vast island nation has to offer. 

Learning an Indonesian cocktail recipe is thus like opening a gateway to the past, all while diving into notable flavors of the present. 

In the epic of Ramayana, the mythology that forms the founding scripture of Hinduism, as well as a core part of Bali’s spiritual heritage, there are frequent references to life-affirming drinks

For centuries, across the vast expanse of Indonesia, indigenous palm sap wine was used as a staple for many royal gatherings, including weddings. Fermented beverages, such as the famed arak, also formed an important part of daily rituals adopted by numerous tribes throughout the nation. 

Indeed, Hindu-Buddhist kings of Singhasari (an ancient Javanese Hindu–Buddhist kingdom) once incorporated the act of drinking into spiritual rites in hopes that alcoholic beverages would elevate their chances of attaining enlightenment. 

In various forms, these traditions continue to this day, trickling down to all parts of Indonesian life and culture and giving birth to popular cocktails that inspire mixologists from Bali to Boston — particularly those looking to infuse traditional indigenous ingredients with world-class spirits. 

Often their base beverages have been beloved locally for centuries: things like jamu (a traditional medicine), arak (traditional alcohol made from sugarcane), bandrek (a beverage made of ginger water, palm sugar and cinnamon), and of course coconut water, to name a few.  

Wafting with the aromas — not to mention natural medicinal benefits — of savory herbs and spices like star anise, turmeric and red ginger, and of tropical leaves like pandan and poh pohan, Indonesian drinks are both a respite after a long, hot and humid day, as well as a sensory exploration all in one. 

And so, we picked the brains of some of Indonesia’s most celebrated mixologists to provide you with not only an exhaustive list that combines both alcoholic drinks as well as popular homemade beverages, but also some of the most sought-after cocktail recipes that best define the country’s creative drink-making zeitgeist.  

1. Jamu

Courtesy of Potato Head (2)

Why Experience It:

You might think of jamu as Indonesia’s kombucha. Brewed in both homes and restaurants, it is prized for its medicinal properties. In particular, turmeric, a key ingredient in jamu, is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties and said to lend jamu its potent healing powers.

Hary Wahyudi, the head mixologist at Potato Head and a Bali local, describes jamu as “one of the best and one of the most ancient health remedies from Indonesia,” adding that “jamu detoxifies and boosts our energy and immune systems.” 

The invigorating flavors of cinnamon, pandan water and coconut sugar syrup help explain why jamu has endured as a traditional Indonesian drink for more than a thousand years. 

Today, its earthy and zingy flavors are sought after by natives and visitors alike. For an enlightening educational session not to mention a super-fun twist on a drinks tasting, head to the Apurva Kempinski in Nusa Dua, Bali, for an appointment with their jamu sommelier. 

Jamu’s use of ginger, turmeric and lemongrass extract add a notable aroma to this staple Indonesian drink, making an ideal base of many cocktails in Indonesia. 

Ingredients:

  • 50 ml Red ginger extract
  • 75 ml Turmeric extract
  • 50 ml Aromatic ginger extract
  • 75 ml Lemongrass water
  • 50 ml Pandan water
  • 10 ml Cinnamon water
  • 20 ml Clove water
  • 15 ml Lime juice
  • 50 ml Coconut sugar syrup

Method: 

The method to get your jamu just right is to mix the ingredients in a saucepan followed by simmering them for 30 minutes on low heat. Jamu is traditionally served chilled but also has an intense aroma when served hot. Take your pick!

Where you can find it:

Jamu can be found most everywhere in the country but if you’re looking for a trendier take on tastings, visit Potato Head or Apurva Kempinski in Bali.

2. Jamu Sling (Mocktail)

Why Experience It:

This drink’s distinguished Balinese character makes visitors feel both at home in a foreign land and on an adventure at the same time. 

A light and refreshing twist on traditional jamu, this mocktail mixes coconut water and jamu kunyit asam, (a turmeric-ginger-tamarind concoction) with tonic to create a refreshing Indonesian non-alcoholic drink. 

With cloves, lemongrass and turmeric lending fiery flavor to this zesty drink, it is hard not to be charmed — you might even special-request the bartender to add a little rum or arak!  

Ingredients:

  • Coconut water
  • Jamu kunyit asam
  • Tonic 
  • Savory herbs and spices (cloves, lemongrass, turmeric)

Where You Can Find It:

This peppy beverage has become so popular that it has escalated in rank to attain the status of “Welcome Drink” at Desa Potato Head, the new beachfront hotel and lifestyle community hub in the Potato Head family. 

3. P and C (Pandan and Coconut) Cocktail at Tom’s by Tom Aikens

Courtesy of The Langham, Jakarta

Why Experience It:

Italian bitter liqueur and sweet vermouth create a complex symphony of flavors in this beautifully balanced cocktail by Tom Aikens, a renowned English Michelin-starred chef. 

The P and C is inspired by the classic Negroni but finds its roots in the native leaves and coconuts of Indonesia. 

The secret ingredients that make this cocktail so exquisite are the pointy pandan leaf, which is found in natural abundance across Southeast Asia, and coconut oil. 

Ingredients:

  • 30 ml Coconut-oil fat-washed Tanqueray gin
  • 30 ml Pandan sous vide Carpano Antica Formula
  • 30 ml Campari
  • Ice: Large Cube
  • Garnish: Pandan leaf

Where you can find it: 

You’ll find this delicious Indonesian cocktail atop the 62nd floor of one of the most premier hotel bars in the region, Tom’s by Tom Aikens, which is located in The Langham, Jakarta, one of the newest hotels in Indonesia. 

4. Flores Margarita 

Why Experience It:

If you’re a fan of margaritas but are looking for an Indonesian variation, this may just be the drink for you. 

The Flores Margarita, a signature cocktail at the famous Potato Head in Bali, offers a uniquely Indonesian take on the classic margarita by blending rosella flowers (a species of hibiscus) with kintamani orange-infused arak, which the bar makes in-house and adds extra zing to each sip. 

This cocktail gets its name from Flores Island, a volcanic isle in eastern Indonesia that is teeming with hibiscus flowers and the occasional komodo dragon. Lying east of Komodo Island, Flores is also abundant with rice and sugarcane, which together create the native arak

Ingredients:

  • 40 ml Rosella-infused tequila 
  • 20 ml Orange-infused arak 
  • 30 ml Lime juice
  • 15 ml Pink citrus
  • 15 ml Rosella syrup 
  • Rosella salt & pepper on the rim

Where you can find it:

You can find the Flores Margarita at Potato Head in Seminyak, Bali, the pioneering beach club known for its sustainable and locavore mindset. 

5.  “Zero Waste” Made’s Margarita

Why Experience It:

Eco-friendly Indonesian drinks aren’t just about being locally sourced. Sundara Beach Club at Four Seasons Resort Bali in Jimbaran Bay is on the vanguard of a rising bartending trend: the zero-waste cocktail

At Sundara, head bartender Sufian Mahmoud is more than eager to explain how he uses all parts of the fruits that appear in these cocktails, leaving no scrap behind. 

Sufian personally set up a permanent “minimum waste, maximum flavor” menu, which features the “Zero Waste” Made’s Margarita. At its base, this drink has Tequila reposado and tangerine liqueur, and it is embellished with edible flowers and rosella dust. 

“Made’s Margarita is a spin-off from the classic, with a Balinese balance of flavors: sour, sweet, floral and bitter notes, with some mild heat from the long pepper,” Sufian says. “There is so much to love about this drink. It’s relatable yet bursting with layers of flavors — a lot like Bali itself.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp Smoked salt (or substitute with your preferred salt)
  • Edible flower and rosella dust for the garnish
  • 45 ml Tequila reposado
  • 25 ml Tangerine liqueur 
  • 1 tbsp Orange marmalade with pepper 
  • 25 ml Lime juice

Method: 

Mix all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake for no more than 12 seconds. Then fine strain the drink into a chilled glass with smoked salt on the rim. Garnish with an edible flower and rosella dust.

Where you can find it:

This eco-friendly concoction is part of the signature zero-waste cocktail menu at Sundara Beach Club at Four Seasons Resort Bali in Jimbaran Bay.

6. Kadek Manhattan 

Why Experience It:

indonesian drinks
Courtesy of Room 4 Dessert

This cocktail gets its name from the Balinese word kadek, a name given to the second born child on the island, the same as this cocktail, which is a sequel to the classic Manhattan.

This Kadek Manhattan is made with brem, a fermented glutinous rice liqueur that is usually used for offering ceremonies in Bali.

Bulleit Bourbon forms the base of this drink, which comes with a high recommendation from Komang Sukrada Yasa, general manager of famed locavore-desserts and drinks omakase bar Room 4 Dessert in Ubud, Bali. 

“This cocktail really reminds me of a Manhattan in a mild way,” he says. “You can still find the slight bitterness and some herbal undertones of the bitters and vermouth from the classic Manhattan, but without using the actual vermouth.”

Ingredients:

  • 30 ml Bulleit Bourbon 
  • 25 ml Brem Bali Dewi Sri 
  • 10 ml Cockburn Tawny Port

Method: 

1. Combine all the ingredients into a cold mixing glass
2. Stir for 8-10 seconds
3. Pour over into a single old-fashioned glass with a big cube of clear ice
4. Garnish with a citrus leaf (kaffir lime leaf is recommended)

Where You Can Find it:

Head to Room 4 Dessert in Ubud, Bali, to enjoy this Indonesian version of a Manhattan, along with some of the most innovative desserts in Asia. 

7. Bandrek

Why Experience It:

This brew of spices is the ideal Indonesian drink for chilly mornings. Despite lying within the equatorial region, high-altitude areas of Indonesia like Puncak Bogor and Lembang still experience chilly weather — hence the existence of warm drinks like bandrek.

Indeed, the origins of bandrek can be traced to West Java, where people in the highlands consumed it to keep warm.

Among the key ingredients in bandrek are lemongrass, pandan leaves and palm sugar, all of which come together to add a mixture of sweetness and spice to this staple Indonesian drink. When simmering on a hot stove, the aroma given off by bandrek infuses the air with a sprinkle of citrus, conjuring a cozy feeling that we say is reason enough to try to make this at home. 

Ingredients:

There are many variations, but these are the basic ingredients:
• Ginger
• Cinnamon sticks
• Cloves
• Lemongrass
• Palm sugar (can substitute brown sugar or jaggery)

Method:

Simmer everything together in boiling water and serve hot.

Other ingredients may include:
• Star anise
• Coriander seeds
• Cardamom pods
• Chile peppers
• Black peppercorns
• Pandan leaves
• Coconut milk
• Young coconut meat
• Sweetened condensed milk

Where you can find it:

Everywhere — it is a staple among Indonesian drinks!

8. Jasmine (Using Jasmine White Vermouth)

indonesian drinks
Courtesy of Room 4 Dessert

Why Experience It:

Embellished with the beautiful and fragrant jasmine flower that grows in medicinal gardens all over Indonesia, the Jasmine cocktail is made with a homemade recipe of Jasmine White Vermouth that is both soothing and nostalgic.

Komang Sukrada Yasa, general manager of Room 4 Dessert in Ubud, says that “this cocktail will always remind us of the feeling and aroma of our garden under the sun after the rain because it’s fresh, clean and flowery.”

The base of this floral cocktail has a deep, dry flavor, thanks to the use of Chardonnay and Tio Pepe sherry wine. 

Jasmine White Vermouth Ingredients:

  • 750 ml Chardonnay white wine
  • 4 g Jasmine flower 
  • 1 g Ylang-ylang flower 
  • 1 g Rosemary 
  • 2 g Wormwood 
  • 75 ml Tio Pepe sherry wine

Method: 

  1. Ensure everything is cold first
  2. Combine all the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice
  3. Stir for 4-6 seconds
  4. Pour over into a coupette glass
  5. Garnish with jasmine and/or ylang-ylang flower

Jasmine Cocktail Ingredients:

60 ml Homemade Jasmine White Vermouth
15 ml Liqueur De Camomille Massenez

Where You Can Find it:

Room 4 Dessert has planted a lush, dreamy permaculture garden surrounding their Jalan Sanggingan location in Ubud, Bali, so you can’t get anymore “locally grown” than the jasmines in this drink plucked fresh onsite. 

9. Pasundan Fashioned

indonesian drinks
Courtesy of The Keraton Lounge

Why Experience It:

The Pasundan Fashioned is imbued with sweet notes of honey and pineapple in this Western twist on a traditional Indonesian drink. 

The poh pohan leaf, a key ingredient here, is well known in Indonesia for its medicinal properties. 

When added to bourbon and beetroot, the poh pohan leaves infuse this cocktail with a local flavor that is commonly found in home remedies, as well as in Javanese street food. 

Ingredients:

  • 3 Poh pohan leaves
  • 1 cm Beetroot
  • 45 ml Bourbon
  • 22 ml Pineapple juice
  • 15 ml Honey syrup
  • 1 skewer Black jelly

Method: 

  1. Blend beetroot and two poh pohan leaves into a smooth mixture.
  2. Add all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well, strain twice, and serve in an old-fashioned glass.
  3. Add a skewer of black jelly on top, then garnish with a poh pohan leaf.

Where You Can Find it:

The Keraton Lounge at the Plaza Hotel in downtown Jakarta serves this poh pohan-infused cocktail. 

10. Ginger N Rose

indonesian drinks
Courtesy of Hotel Indigo Bali

Why Experience It:

The Ginger N Rose isn’t just a treat for the eyes; it is also meant to be a multi-sensory experience. 

Infused with the classic arak, this rosemary-topped drink is brought to life by mixing it with a butterfly pea flower infusion. An indigenous flora, butterfly pea flower was believed in ancient Ayurvedic medicine to be a source of both enhanced cognitive function and enhanced libido in women.

The nectar of butterfly pea flower turns a vibrant purple when mixed with lemon juice. When you’re served this regal cocktail, you’ll watch the natural chemical reaction happen right before your eyes.

Ingredients:

  • 45 ml Ginger-infused arak
  • 15 ml Triple sec
  • 45 ml Butterfly pea flower infusion
  • 20 ml Homemade ginger syrup
  • 15 ml Lemon juice
  • Lemon slice and charred rosemary sprig

Method:

  1. Except for the lemon juice, add all ingredients to a shaker full of ice and shake well.
  2. Strain into an ice-filled glass and garnish with the lemon slice and charred rosemary.
  3. Serve with lemon juice on the side, then pour the juice slowly into the cocktail to change its color from blue to purple.

Where you can find it:

Mesari Beach, a stretch of Seminyak in Bali, hosts Hotel Indigo Bali’s Tree Bar on its captivating coastline. The bar has crowned their mixologist a “Balixologist,’ and has become renowned for serving a creative menu of Indonesian drinks using local ingredients. 

11. Tirta Magnolia 

indonesian drinks
Courtesy of Koral Restaurant

Why Experience It:

The Tirta Magnolia is a Wild Turkey bourbon whiskey-based cocktail that is topped with magnolia honey to deliver a delicious sensory overload. 

‘Tirta’ is a type of ‘holy water’ that is used in traditional Balinese ceremonies, including ceremonial baths where it is sprinkled to ward off evil spirits. 

This Indonesian drink is made with a dash of magnolia-infused soda and 3 dashes of Angostura Bitte, adding a floral hint to the deep-charred American bourbon whiskey. Then, the “cherry on top” comes from more liquor — ooo, lala! 

Ingredients:

  • 50ml Wild Turkey bourbon whiskey
  • 10ml Cherry liquor
  • 5ml Magnolia honey
  • 3 dashes of Angostura Bitter
  • Magnolia-infused soda

 Where you can find it:

Head over to the Koral Restaurant at The Apurva Kempinski in Bali for a dose of this Balinese cocktail inspired by ceremonial drinks.

Tips & News

These Are the 25 Best Hotels in the World

Here are the Top 25 hotels around the world, as voted by you, our discerning readers.

Hotels & Resorts

Capella Ubud Bali

Hotel designer Bill Bensley has dreamed up some of Southeast Asia’s most glamorous resorts, but his favorite travel memories are those of childhood camping trips. That love of nature, along with Bensley’s obsession with old-world style, informed his vision for the first Balinese property from the Singapore-based Capella Hotel Group.

Inspiration

Canggu is the Bali of Your Dreams

With a prolific population of creative, locally-minded cool kids, the place to be in Bali right now is surf town Canggu.

Hotels & Resorts

World’s Best Awards 2021: Top 100 Hotels in the World

The top 100 Best Hotels Overall in 2021 as voted by our readers in the World’s Best Awards.