bási

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Traditional earthenware jars where bási is left to ferment, taken near Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. Photo by erasmusa / CC BY 2.0

A fermented beverage sourced from sugar canes – aka sugar cane wine.

Traditionally produced and consumed by Ilocanos (people from the mountainous Ilocos region) in northern Luzon province.

To brew bási, tall, thick stalks of sugar cane are harvested, pressed and extracted of their juice; brought to a boil; infused with the bark and leaves of local trees, then transferred to large earthen jars to ferment for several months to a year.

I will have to get my hands on some bási. Soon!

Further reading:

• How bási spurred a rebellion against the Spanish colonial government in the Northern Philippines

• The full story of the Bási Revolt. It’s even cited in this American newspaper clipping from 1940!

• And finally, a great post (with photos!) by Bea about the intoxicating history of bási & how it’s made

Primary information translated from the wonderful community behind Sagisag Kultura, a cultural research and awareness project by the Philippine National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

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