If you followed any of my social internets as of late, it should be no surprise that Bali was not my favorite stop on this world tour. The reasons are many and have no place sullying this lovely cocktail post. Whatever its faults, Bali did, however, provide easy access to mangosteens AND drove us to kill a bottle of Knob Creek we picked up at duty free on the way in. Add in a little palm sugar, and you have a super easy and delicious Balinese old-fashioned that anyone can make – just follow these simple steps.
Step 1: Spend ample time in Muslim countries, with high booze tax and shitty beer, such that you are chomping at the bit for something tasty.
Step 2: Search through each of the duty free shops at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, hoping to find a better bourbon than Jack Daniels* or Jim Beam. Successfully locate a bottle of Knob Creek. Rejoice.
Step 3: Arrive in Ubud, realize you’ve made a huge mistake in your choice of destinations, and urgently seek out mangosteens, because at least you KNOW you love them.
Step 4: Enter the Ubud market, politely demur offers to purchase batiks, junky bracelets, and penis-shaped wooden bottle openers, and make your way to the old lady selling mangosteens.
Step 5: Ask how much, wait until she pulls out 40,000 Indonesian rupiah (about $4 USD/kilo). Playfully scoff, because you know this is the tourist price, and locals pay closer to 20,000-25,000/kilo. Offer 25,000. Accept her counter-offer of 30,000. Also accept the 2 tiny bananas and 3 rambutans she stuffs into your bag with the mangosteens, likely as a peace offering for charging you so much…. relatively speaking.
Step 6: Walk along the streets of Ubud, searching for sugar while politely declining the constant offers for a taxi ride from the men lining the street. Keep your eyes on the ground, because the sidewalks are often broken, and lead straight down into a deep cement gutter.
Step 7: Locate a tiny stall selling spices, AND PALM SUGAR!! Spot a teeny tiny puck of palm sugar, smaller than an actual hockey puck. Have your husband handle this negotiation. She says it is 30,000 ($3 USD). Insanity. Husband counter-offers with 10,000 which is still far too much, but you NEED that sugar, and she accepts.
Step 8: Realize you need ice.
Step 9: Realize the closest ice would require a 15-minute walk down the street, the same street with the taxi touts and crumbling sidewalk, and that you are already drenched with sweat.
Step 10: Remember that you have your bourbon chilling in the hotel room fridge, and decide that cocktails are good even without ice.
Step 11: Make up the recipe. ***
Step 12: Sip joyfully and plan your return to Malaysia.
*yes, I know Jack Daniel’s is technically Tennessee whiskey, not bourbon. Duty free shops, however, do not recognize this distinction.
**lest you believe we are penny-pinchers, bargaining is expected here, as in most parts of SE Asia.
*** Balinese Mangosteen Old Fashioned.
+ 4 oz bourbon
+ teaspoon sized chunk of palm sugar (can sub in regular sugar but it will in no way be as delicious)
+ 2 spoonfuls of water
+ 1 mangosteen
Dissolve palm sugar chunk in water in glass. Stir until it mostly dissolves.
Divide mangosteen pulp and palm sugar water evenly into two glasses.
Add 2 oz bourbon to each glass. Top up with a bit of water to dilute slightly (or add ice intead if you’ve got it.)