Rum company owner, world traveler, and drink aficionado, Zane Lamprey, travels the globe to explore drinking customs and cultures by tossing back a few with the locals in the all-new series Chug. As he explores the libations of the region, Zane visits watering holes, breweries, distilleries, and wineries. In every episode, he journeys by train to the outskirts of the big cities, chugging off to get a taste of local spirits.
Tonight on the series premiere of Chug: Kuala Lumpur, Zane sets off for Malaysia to experience local libations and soak up soul vibes with interesting people.
Malaysia’s Local Drinks: The Toddy & The Lancow
There’s a raw beauty inherit in the jungle forests, and Zane quickly realizes he’s in for an experience you can’t get in the States. Zane’s drinking guide, Deep, explains Malaysia’s drinking culture is relatively new. Considered a way station for cultural influences from surrounding countries, which don’t all embrace drinking, Malaysia’s drinking culture is growing and evolving. In the village of Banting, Zane finds a true native gem–a drink locals have dubbed the Toddy, named for the Toddy Palm tree from which it’s derived.
Its harvesting method, Zane discovers, is just as unique as its taste. The locals hang pots on the palm tree’s fruit stalks in order to collect the nectar. It’s basically sweet, sugary water until the wild yeast that’s floating in the air and in the pots converts the sugar into alcohol… and Voilà. Fermentation occurs right in the pot as it hangs on the tree. Zane reveals the spirit tastes like cereal and bugs, which happen to be floating around getting their buzz on too!
The drink mongers stop at a local Toddy shop that sells a more refined version of the beverage that’s filtered and chilled. The Toddy now tastes more like a bready version of carbonated coconut water with a reminiscent flavor of cereal and milk. It’s kind of like a beer with yeasty nuances and 5-6 % alcohol content. Zane learns a new word for “Cheers” here in Banting, “Ban Thai!” It translates to “Whack,” and could be for the local tradition of dropping a shot of Toddy into a Guinness. Sound familiar? It’s like an Irish car bomb, but with a Malaysian flair–whack!
The next stop for Zane is the Batu caves about twenty minutes outside K-L, which houses a Hindu shrine teeming with Macaques monkeys. Here, Zane discovers a Malaysian version of moonshine crafted by an almost forgotten people, the Ibans, who migrated from the Indonesia region to settle on the island of Borneo in western Malaysia. Locals today try to preserve the drinking tradition of the Ibans with the Lancow, named for the farm hut in which the illegal moonshine was crafted in order to hide their 35% ABV concoction from the authorities.
Cocktail Roundup: Popular Cocktails of Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia offers a number of unique libations known to backpackers and tourists alike. The notorious “Bucket” cocktail, most notably consumed in The Bucket Bar at the last stop on the river tubing run in Vang Vieng in Laos, or on the gorgeous white sand beaches of Koh Phi Phi in Thailand, is nothing but a child’s beach toy bucket chocked full of Sangsom, Mekong whiskey, vodka or gin, mixed with a version of Red Bull (dubbed M150), and a dash of fruit juice.
Vietnam boasts their beloved brew, Bia Hoi, and it’s a must try for thrifty travelers who dig paying only 50 cents for a liter of beer.
Found in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, Cobra & Scorpion Whiskey tops the libation charts as an aphrodisiac and cure-all-ailments-cocktail for only the most daring. Peppery and spicy in flavor, this whiskey instilled with either a real scorpion or cobra makes for what some might call a revolting drink, but certainly a fabulous souvenir!
Homemade Lao-Lao whiskey puts hair on the chest and is a favorite found in Laos.
Pro Tip: All hangovers can be treated with the delicious fruit shakes found in street stalls all throughout Southeast Asia. But, nothing beats the esoteric and unknown factor that Zane discovers in the jungles of Malaysia.
Don’t miss the series premiere of Chug: Kuala Lumpur Monday at 10:30/9:30c for more escapades into the unknown libations of Malaysia.