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Reinventing an ancient spirit with a bad reputation

In Bali, Indonesia's traditional 'arak' liquor is moving upmarket

A bartender mixes an arak cocktail at Karma Kandara Bali, a luxury resort and beach club on the island's Bukit Peninsula. (Ian Neubauer)

DENPASAR, Indonesia -- Ask people who have holidayed in Bali about arak -- a colorless alcoholic drink traditionally made in backyard distilleries -- and you will hear stories about drinkers getting sick, going blind and sometimes even dying after patronizing cheap bars that substitute arak for imported spirits to increase profits.

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