Basi is a sugar cane wine made in Ilocos Norte and particularly plentiful in Naguilian where a Basi Festival is held annually. The product has been produced and consumed even before the invasion of the Spaniards. The strong basi ias called basi lalaki and if it is weak, basi babae.
Basi is made from freshly extracted sugar cane juice. The juice is boiled in vats and stored in earthen jars. Once cooled, flavorings made of ground glutinous rice and duhat (java plum) bark or other fruits or barks are added, followed by a dried powdered starter to start the fermentation process. The mixture is left for up to three months to ferment and up to one year to age. The final product is a light brown color and has a sweet and a sour flavor.
Basi plays a significant part in Ilocanos culture beyond its usual recreational functions as an alcoholic beverage. A special basi is prepared and brought to the house of a woman during a pamamanhikan, a practice where the family of a man goes to his intended's house to ask for her hand in marriage before the wedding plans are made. A different kind is served ceremoniously during weddings, where the married couple takes a first sip, then the cup is passed to the guests and sponsors as the newlyweds ask for gifts or money.
Basi is also used during washing day, after a burial, when all the relatives and family of the deceased washes bedclothes and cloths used in the house. Later, the family undergoes a rite where the officiator makes a cross on their foreheads with basi.
- Cordero-Fernando, Gilda. "Philippine Food and Life". Philippines: Cacho Hermanos Printing, Inc. 1992