It is a taste that has traveled the world from the Dutch East Indies, unique for its ability to both add depth and lift the aromas of citrus and chocolate. From the late 17th to 19th century, in an age when “Punch” was a celebration of all things then exotic – citrus, sugar, and spice, no Punch was without a true Batavia Arrack.
It’s one of the oldest spirits out there. On its own, Batavia Arrack is hot and astringent with a bite so strong it lingers for minutes. It’s not the kind of thing you would consider shooting straight. It’s a bit rough. But in cocktails, it can be the perfect counter to ingredients such as citrus, spice and sugar—the stuff of colonial punches. On its own, much like working with vanilla, if you taste it straight it doesn’t make sense as to why it’s useful. But Batavia Arrack, even in simple drinks like a basic Daisy, can be extraordinary.
Batavia Arrack is pot-distilled from molasses (98%) that has been fermented with Red Javanese Rice (2%) on the Island of Java, Indonesia. The fermentation with rice which explains some of the surprising flavors found therein. More so than rums, gins or other spirits, the Batavia Arrack had then as now the extraordinary effect of elevating the aromatics of the spices and citrus notes.