Aniseed-Flavored Arak


A Traditional Aperitif In The Middle East


What Is Arak? Arak is a colorless, aniseed-flavored (black liquorice-flavored, for those unfamiliar with the taste of aniseed) alcoholic aperitif traditionally drunk in the Middle Eastern countries usually accompanied by small appetizers called mezze. 




Where Does It Come From? 

Arak is typically made from grapes grown in Mediterranean climates, though dates, plums, figs, may also be used. After arak grapevines have matured the grapes are harvested and stored in barrels for three weeks to ferment. Distillation follows fermentation and varying amounts of aniseed are added at this time to give the spirit its unique flavor. Different types of stills – stainless steel, copper, pot stills, and column stills – can also affect the final taste of the arak. High-quality brands of arak may also age the finished spirit in clay containers (amphora) to allow for evaporation of water, thus yielding the purest form of the aperitif. Typical arak usually ranges from between 30% to 60% alcohol by volume.



How Should I Drink It? 

Traditionally, arak is mixed with a ratio of 1/3 arak to 2/3 water  then poured into small, ice-filled glasses. Water emulsifies the aniseed oil and turns the spirit a milky-white color earning arak the nickname “the milk of lions”.