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Lao-Khamu men drinking lao-hai
from an earthenware jar. Water is added to the jar to maintain the liquid level as the alcohol is sipped.
Lao-Lao (Lao: ເຫລົ້າລາວ) is a Laotian rice whisky produced in Laos. Along with Beer Lao, lao-Lao is a staple for the people of Laos. Contrary to what the romanized transcription would make one believe, the name lao-Lao is not the same word repeated twice, but actually two different words pronounced with different tones: The first, ເຫລົ້າ, means "alcohol" and is pronounced with a low-falling tone (in the standard dialect), while the second, ລາວ, means Laotian ("Lao") and is pronounced with a high(-rising) tone.
Although lao-lao is traditionally drunk neat, a cocktail that is rising in popularity is the "Pygmy Slow Lorange", named after the Pygmy Slow Loris, a species endemic to Laos. Various flavoured lao-laos are made by macerating such additives as honey or scorpions. It is women who often distil Lao-laoy and sell it as a source of income locally, often being their second major income.
A less powerful version of lao-lao, called lao-hai, is especially popular with the Khamu ethnic group in Laos, and is drunk from large communal earthenware pots (hai) through long bamboo straws.
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