The dark sides of expat living: 5 most disgusting drinks in Asia

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The brewer of one of Asia’s most excellent drinks, Singha beer, has recently undertaken steps to go international in a move to make the bright side of Southeast Asia’s beverage brands better known to the rest of the world.

The beer is one example of  highly appreciated alcoholic delights among expats within Asia-Pacific’s universe of drinks. However, on the bottom of this line, there are drinks better left untouched.

By Justin Calderon and Arno Maierbrugger

In some circles, they are known as the “critter carts.”

Thailand’s bags of bugs on wheels are, however, just one example of the extremes a journey through the Asia-Pacific can take your taste buds. Such is the multitude of palates that Asian food and drinks cover, for every delectable dish of aromatic spices and flavours there is bound to be an equally distasteful stinker – consumable by many and despised by the uninitiated.

Though Asia’s most hard-to-stomach plates have been well documented, the stiff brews that often accompany them have not.

The editorial team at Inside Investor has made many inroads through this face-wrenching world, and now lists below the drinks in Asia that give us the most foul aftertaste, in no particular order.

Baijiu, China

The name baijiu in Mandarin literally means “white alcohol.” This liquor made of ginseng is as varied as Japanese sake and contains 40 per cent to 60 per cent alcohol by volume, tough enough to make anyone red in the face, especially when it is served at room temperature, which is commonly done in China.

Traditionally, baijiu is drunk during large dinner parties and events, including Beijing opera performances. In actuality, however, the cheap generic brands of baijiu that go for between 3 renminbi ($0.48) and 20 renminbi ($3.21) per bottle are ever-present and popularly consumed by overworked Chinese migrants, especially when accompanied by some good karaoke tunes. The higher end brands can fetch a whooping 3,000 renminbi ($481), highly prized by factory owners looking to chum up to visiting Communist officials with some ostentation.

Diabolical duo: As baijiu is commonly drank during festive occasions, and valued for its strong fragrance, to put yourself overboard, why not combine some with a slice of snake.

Lao-Lao whiskey, Laos

Any Vang Vieng tuber – before authorities curtailed the party riverside town in August 2012 – will tell you of the daemon known as Lao-Lao, Laotian rice whiskey. This earthenware-pot poison is a staple of Laos and drank neatly, much to the woes of disparaging backpackers on the morning after.

Some variations of Lao-Lao are made by macerating additives such as honey or scorpions. A bottle of Lao-Lao can go for as low as just $1 in Vientiane, the capital of Laos.

Diabolical duo:  Since there is a chance that your drink already has scorpions in it, why not chase your drink with a nice crunh of exoskeleton?

Soju, Korea

Now descending on yet another national alcohol, there might be some incoming flak for this. Soju, the quintessential alcoholic beverage of Korea, is known for being tough and similar to vodka in taste, minus the sweetener commonly used to give it an extra sugary hint.

Soju is regularly drunk across the peninsula; yet on the South Korean side recently experience a rise in cost, jumping from 3,000 won ($2.78) to 4,000 won ($3.70) per bottle.

Diabolical duo:  Nakji, or live squid, is commonly chased down with shot glasses of soju. The alcohol helps to force down the tentacles of the squid, which still wiggle from residual nerve activity.

Brem, Bali

Brem is a yet another traditionally rice wine, this time hailing from Bali. Brem is actually a style of fermentation, which is also used to make brem cake. The alcoholic beverage brem can be between 5 per cent and 14 per cent alcohol by volume, and is acidic and sweet in taste, a combination that evokes spasms in first-timers. Brem, coincidently, is also used to evoke gods in Balinese Hindu rituals.

A specialty bottle of brem can go for 37,000 rupiah ($3.82) per bottle.

Diabolical duo:  Brem is often enjoyed at special ceremonies in Bali, which usually contain vast feasts of pig parts. Dig in.

Mushroom shakes, Phuket, et al

This beverage has to be listed simply because of its pure notoriety. Mushroom shakes, commonly found on tourist islands in southern Thailand, are known for their sickly brownish green appearance – and, of course, psychedelic after-effects.

Its foul nutty smell and taste won’t be easy to forget, nor will its trip. Mushroom shakes start at about 500 baht ($16.76), it has been reported.

Diabolical duo:  The duo is the shake.

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

The brewer of one of Asia’s most excellent drinks, Singha beer, has recently undertaken steps to go international in a move to make the bright side of Southeast Asia’s beverage brands better known to the rest of the world.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The brewer of one of Asia’s most excellent drinks, Singha beer, has recently undertaken steps to go international in a move to make the bright side of Southeast Asia’s beverage brands better known to the rest of the world.

The beer is one example of  highly appreciated alcoholic delights among expats within Asia-Pacific’s universe of drinks. However, on the bottom of this line, there are drinks better left untouched.

By Justin Calderon and Arno Maierbrugger

In some circles, they are known as the “critter carts.”

Thailand’s bags of bugs on wheels are, however, just one example of the extremes a journey through the Asia-Pacific can take your taste buds. Such is the multitude of palates that Asian food and drinks cover, for every delectable dish of aromatic spices and flavours there is bound to be an equally distasteful stinker – consumable by many and despised by the uninitiated.

Though Asia’s most hard-to-stomach plates have been well documented, the stiff brews that often accompany them have not.

The editorial team at Inside Investor has made many inroads through this face-wrenching world, and now lists below the drinks in Asia that give us the most foul aftertaste, in no particular order.

Baijiu, China

The name baijiu in Mandarin literally means “white alcohol.” This liquor made of ginseng is as varied as Japanese sake and contains 40 per cent to 60 per cent alcohol by volume, tough enough to make anyone red in the face, especially when it is served at room temperature, which is commonly done in China.

Traditionally, baijiu is drunk during large dinner parties and events, including Beijing opera performances. In actuality, however, the cheap generic brands of baijiu that go for between 3 renminbi ($0.48) and 20 renminbi ($3.21) per bottle are ever-present and popularly consumed by overworked Chinese migrants, especially when accompanied by some good karaoke tunes. The higher end brands can fetch a whooping 3,000 renminbi ($481), highly prized by factory owners looking to chum up to visiting Communist officials with some ostentation.

Diabolical duo: As baijiu is commonly drank during festive occasions, and valued for its strong fragrance, to put yourself overboard, why not combine some with a slice of snake.

Lao-Lao whiskey, Laos

Any Vang Vieng tuber – before authorities curtailed the party riverside town in August 2012 – will tell you of the daemon known as Lao-Lao, Laotian rice whiskey. This earthenware-pot poison is a staple of Laos and drank neatly, much to the woes of disparaging backpackers on the morning after.

Some variations of Lao-Lao are made by macerating additives such as honey or scorpions. A bottle of Lao-Lao can go for as low as just $1 in Vientiane, the capital of Laos.

Diabolical duo:  Since there is a chance that your drink already has scorpions in it, why not chase your drink with a nice crunh of exoskeleton?

Soju, Korea

Now descending on yet another national alcohol, there might be some incoming flak for this. Soju, the quintessential alcoholic beverage of Korea, is known for being tough and similar to vodka in taste, minus the sweetener commonly used to give it an extra sugary hint.

Soju is regularly drunk across the peninsula; yet on the South Korean side recently experience a rise in cost, jumping from 3,000 won ($2.78) to 4,000 won ($3.70) per bottle.

Diabolical duo:  Nakji, or live squid, is commonly chased down with shot glasses of soju. The alcohol helps to force down the tentacles of the squid, which still wiggle from residual nerve activity.

Brem, Bali

Brem is a yet another traditionally rice wine, this time hailing from Bali. Brem is actually a style of fermentation, which is also used to make brem cake. The alcoholic beverage brem can be between 5 per cent and 14 per cent alcohol by volume, and is acidic and sweet in taste, a combination that evokes spasms in first-timers. Brem, coincidently, is also used to evoke gods in Balinese Hindu rituals.

A specialty bottle of brem can go for 37,000 rupiah ($3.82) per bottle.

Diabolical duo:  Brem is often enjoyed at special ceremonies in Bali, which usually contain vast feasts of pig parts. Dig in.

Mushroom shakes, Phuket, et al

This beverage has to be listed simply because of its pure notoriety. Mushroom shakes, commonly found on tourist islands in southern Thailand, are known for their sickly brownish green appearance – and, of course, psychedelic after-effects.

Its foul nutty smell and taste won’t be easy to forget, nor will its trip. Mushroom shakes start at about 500 baht ($16.76), it has been reported.

Diabolical duo:  The duo is the shake.

Do you like this post?
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