Rice Alcohol and other Spirits

     As in other countries, during festivities and meetings between friends and relatives, Vietnamese people ordinarily drink alcohol.


     Alcohol in Viet Nam is classified into a great number of categories, depending on the metarial used for processing (rice, maize, potato, fruit, etc.). Rice alcohol, specifically sticky rice with yellow flower alcohol, is the best. However, the most popular alcohol in Viet Nam is the ruou trang (from ardinary rice).

     Alcohol production involves many steps: rice cooking, blending with a yeast, and distilling. Alcohol is ordinarily kept in jars, big or small, with a stopper made of a few banana leaves to preserve the alcohol. When drinking alcohol, it is poured into small china bottles and sometimes into gourd and then drunk from small cups (buffalo-eye cup). In ancient times, alcohol was drunk in four rounds. The expression “tea three, alcohol four” comes from this practice meaning that when drinking tea, one drinks until the third cup, and when drinking alcohol, one drinks until the fourth cup.


     As it is a popular drink, alcohol is prepared in all regions of the country and each region has its own famous alcohol. For example, there is Van alcohol from Bac Ninh, Bac Ha alcohol from Lao Cai, chrysanthemum alcohol of Phu Lo, lotus alcohol of Tay Ho (Ha Noi), etc. Each alcohol is prepared according to a “secret” process of preparing the yeast and distilling, in order to create a special scent and taste that prevents the alcohol of  one region from being mistaken for the alcohol of another.

     Besides ordinary rice alcohol, there are other liquors in Viet Nam, such as cam alcohol (made with the glutinous cam rice cultivated from milpa, a yeast prepared from leaves that are not distilled), wines (from fermented fruit), etc.

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