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Getting to know 'bir pletok,' Betawi's staple drink

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Tue, July 11, 2017  /  02:02 pm
Getting to know 'bir pletok,' Betawi's staple drink

A staple in Betawi culture since Indonesia's colonial era, 'bir pletok' was designated as one of 30 iconic national dishes by the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry in 2012. (Shutterstock/File)

Bir pletok, a herbs and spices-based beverage, has long been the traditional drink of choice in Betawi celebrations.

A staple in Betawi culture since Indonesia's colonial era, bir pletok was designated as one of 30 iconic national dishes by the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry in 2012.

"Bir pletok is proof of the important role of spices, especially cloves, nutmeg, mace, pepper and cinnamon, that made Indonesia a major player in the spice trade [...]," Betawi culture expert JJ Rizal said at the 2017 Jakarta Fair on Friday, as quoted by kompas.com.

Bir pletok is considered a prestigious drink in Betawi culture, Rizal said, adding that it is only served during events celebrating an important rite of passage.

Read also: Traditional beverage-inspired mixology classes: The new urbanite trend

 

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In a similar way Europeans serve special wine or champagne during celebratory events, the Betawi people serve bir pletok, which symbolizes "luxury," to mark a successful event. 

Today, three events commonly serve the beverage, namely celebrations of circumcisions, weddings and funerals.

"Bir pletok is the mark of success in a Betawi wedding. If there is no bir pletok, the traditional foods would therefore not be considered fancy. The celebrations' success is seen in how bir pletok flows in abundance, like wine in Europe," Rizal said. (liz/kes)

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