Hands up if you’ve been struggling to find quality alcohol at affordable prices whilst on holiday in Bali. You are not alone. Read on to gain some insider’s info on the best places in town to buy beer, wine and spirits. And even better – how to have it delivered.
Skip the duty-free shop at the International Airport. While the store may be called “Duty Free,” it’s not. All alcohol that comes into Indonesia is slapped with a heavy import tax. The only ways around paying the tax are by purchasing a bottle of duty free at a foreign airport en route to Indonesia, or buying domestic products.
BUYING BEER, WINE AND SPIRITS IN BALI
In Bali, Bintang is synonymous with beer. This popular choice is a pilsner with 4.7% alcohol content and a mild flavour that’s well suited for beach holidays.
Its prevalence is profound. Like Imperial in Costa Rica, or Heineken in Holland, which is perhaps a more appropriate comparison given that the company making Bintang in Indonesia was established during Dutch colonial rule and remains a part of Heineken (in Indonesian, bintang means star, and both logos use a red star).
A quick stop for cold ones can be fulfilled at Circle K or Mini Mart in touristy areas. These are the only major convenience store brands that sell beer.
No alky here. Alfamart, Indomaret and some Coco-brand corner stores don’t stock alcoholic beverages in Indonesia, even in Bali. If you see Bintang Zero – that’s zero as in 0.0% or non-alcoholic beer.
Second to Bintang, the most widely available beer in Bali is San Miguel (and San Miguel Light, served with lime). You’ll see Bali Hai, Anker and Stark, too. There are some beer alternatives like Alben’s Cider and Smirnoff Ice drinks as well. And Bintang Radler citrus flavoured drinks, which have just 2% alcohol. Foreign beers such as Guinness are also available, but not easily found at convenience stores.
The largest international supermarket in the centre of Seminyak, Bali is also called Bintang. The logo is, you guessed it, a red star. Evidently, it’s a good place to buy Bintang beer at a cheap price. One Bintang store reviewer on TripAdvisor says, “Bintang is 16k IDR per bottle while at the bar/restaurant is 22k at least. Not much difference until you add 12.5% service charge and tax.”
Another review of the store mentions, “One of its big attractions is you can buy bottles of spirits here, something very hard to come by elsewhere in the area.” Then there’s a helpful reminder, Bintang is your best bet if you’re desperate to buy a bottle opener in Bali. One review headline sums it up best: “Pick up everything including the kitchen sink.”
Jl. Raya Seminyak No.17, Kuta Bali
+62 361 730 552
A few doors to the right of Bintang is a small liquor shop which sells domestic and imported liquor. Domestic liquor? Surprise. Hard liquors made in Indonesia such as those under the Mansion House label only run 150,000 IDR (AUD $15) per bottle.
One should be wary of counterfeit products, untidy bars, too-good-to-be-true deals and broken seals. Definitely DO NOT DRINK from the Absolut vodka bottles on the roadside. The 1L standard glass bottles are re-used to sell petrol (who said Indonesia doesn’t recycle?).
Back to the business of stocking the bar. Pepito is an established supermarket brand with stores all over South Bali and Ubud carrying a decent selection of booze that you can pick up along with your grocery shopping.
The choice of whiskey, bourbon and scotch is wide: there’s MacAllan 12 on the top shelf for under IDR 3 million, but Jack Daniel’s, Jim Beam and Johnnie Walker Red Label costing under IDR 1 million each. Jamaican Plantation rum and Myers’s rum are priced around IDR 800,000. Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum IDR 400,000. Kettle One vodka runs around IDR 1 million, Finlandia 800,000, Smirnoff 350,000 and up. Jägermeister costs about IDR 1 million. 1800 tequila sells for IDR 1,700,000. Expect to pay IDR 750,000, IDR 1,700,000 for a bottle of Tanqueray No. Ten.
For mixers, you’ll find Bali has the standard set from Schweppes – imported and domestic; soda water, tonic, bitter lemon, ginger ale, ginger beer – brand name soda pops and a variety of juices. Diamond brand juice has no added sugar.
Jl. Raya Tebongkang, Singakerta, Ubud, Bali
Jl. Raya Kerobokan, Badung, Bali
Jl. Raya Canggu, Badung, Bali
French supermarket giant Carrefour also has everything one could wish for. If a decent bottle of Pinot Noir or a cheeky Sav Blanc are on your wish list then we’ve got good news – you need never find yourself with an empty glass again.
Each of the three Bali Carrefour locations is a one stop shop for excellent beers, wines and spirits at attractive prices, as well as the all-important imported cheeses, olives and crackers.
Carrefour Sunset Road
Jl. Sunset Road No.8, Kuta, Bali
For deal-seekers, Tiara Gatzu local supermarket has a liquor store attached, where you can expect to find a wide selection of liquor at very reasonable prices.
Jl. Gatot Subroto Barat No. 567, Denpasar, Bali
Red and White liquor shop is a favourite when it comes to buying international vodka, gin and whisky brands. Ask about deals such as “Buy 2 get 1 free” which is even available during some peak holiday times. Local and international wines are also sold here. Red & White is a chain store and is also a vendor on the GO-JEK delivery app.
Red & White Seminyak Square
Jl. Kayu Aya No. 1., Seminyak, Bali
+62 361 736 765
Kerobokan’s Winehouse labels itself as ‘shop, bar and professional wine school,’ but for us, it’s a veritable wine emporium: premium wine shop importer, wholesaler and retailer with a taste bud-tingling variety of wines from the lightest body white wines to full-bodied heavier reds. Check out their attractive monthly promotions as well as exclusive discounts. Guests of Elite Havens villas – look up Winehouse on the Elite Experience app for a fab discount.
Jl. Raya Kerobokan No. 66, Kerobokan, Bali
+62 361 737 217
Imported wines are generally sold in Bali starting from IDR 400,000 and up. You can expect to see Lindeman’s wines, Yellow Tail from Australia and Santa Ema from Chile. Good luck buying wine in Bali from any maker you don’t recognise. Wine recommendations from a Bali aficionado will have more legs than your glass of Cab Sauv.
Especially for Champagne and sparkling wines. I once bought a bottle of ‘brut’ that tasted like Gewürztraminer and produced about four bubbles in each glass. Perhaps I should have opted for Freixenet Cava, even at the higher-than-normal price of IDR 500,000.
To bypass the steep alcohol import tax, there are some Indonesian wine brands importing grapes from growing regions in Chile and Australia. Your average happy hour on the island will be pouring Plaga and Hatten by the glass. The Two Islands brand is a branch of Hatten Wines.
A third Indonesian wine brand making waves is Sababay Winery, which produces Old World and New World Wines from grapes grown in Bali. Try the Sababay White Velvet chilled by the pool or alongside some spicy Indonesian food. It’s made from Muscan Saint Vallier grapes and yours for the bargain price of IDR 220,000 per bottle.
Real Indonesian ‘wine’ is very sweet like a port or dessert wine. It goes by anggur merah (red grape) and anggur putih (white grape). The popular label is Orang Tua (literally meaning old people, it’s better translated as “my parents”) and costs IDR 17,000/AUD $2 per bottle. Another Indonesian favourite is Intisari’s anggur ginseng, but you won’t easily find that in Bali. Anggur is served at room temperature and sipped from a small glass, or mixed with beer and ice for a refreshing cooler al estilo español (one large 620ML Bintang to one bottle of Orang Tua), among other ‘cocktails’ which can be made with this wine-syrup.
Bali’s famous traditional wine, called arak (or arrack) is a clear rice wine that can be compared to a cold sake or soju. Its alcohol content ranges from 10 to 40 percent. It can be sipped, thrown back in a shot glass or mixed with Sprite or juice.
Google has quite a few cautionary tales about party-crazed island visitors having ten-too-many and suffering serious consequences. Some arak is made for offering with prayer among other uses – not intended for consumption.
Akademi Bar on Jalan Petitenget in Seminyak serves inspired arak cocktails and offers master cocktail-making classes. Read more about this and other Bali highs here.
Few companies are vetted as professional arak distilleries. Dewi Sri company is aligned with Hatten and has been around since 1968, likely the best take-home brand for anyone wanting arak as a Bali souvenir.
DRINK DELIVERY SERVICES IN BALI
Laid back poolside and just too comfortable to leave your villa? If there’s a smartphone in reach, you’re in luck.
For delivery anything in Bali, the GO-JEK delivery app is king. For alcohol delivery, vendors include Red & White, Winehouse and Pepito Supermarkets. Signing up for a GO-JEK account on the app requires an Indonesian phone number, so unfortunately, it’s not a convenient delivery solution for everyone.
Enter Warung on Wheels, a website dedicated to delivering drinks, mixers and other party supplies directly to your Bali villa 24/7. Free delivery is standard only for orders over IDR 200,000 – a non-issue given that 90 percent of their inventory comprises bottles starting around IDR 400,000. Payment can be made by cash, Mastercard or Visa (just let them know your preference in advance) and the goods usually arrive within 30 minutes.
Warung on Wheels
+62 085 333 555 333
Another option for beer delivery around Seminyak and Canggu until 11pm is The Plumber’s Arms, a true pub with fish n’ chips, imported beers on tap, trivia nights and Premier League on TV. The full bar also has local Bintang beers at a very good price, and the restaurant offers free delivery within the area. 24 small beers come in a red plastic crate, for which a deposit of IDR 70,000 is due. The Bintangs arrive perfectly chilled as does the white wine.
The Plumbers Arms
Jl. Raya Banjar Anyar No. 8, Kerobokan, Bali
+62 851 0044 9132
Presumably other restaurants around Bali do the same. Spill your secrets in the comments section.
When you’re a guest of Elite Havens luxury villa rentals, the villa staff are at your service to source this stuff for you. They’ll even stock your favourite provisions and refreshments before your arrival and do the grocery shopping while you’re here, not to mention mixing drinks, providing poolside butler service and preparing every meal.
LAST UPDATE: 13 JUNE 2017