Arak is a traditional Lebanese alcoholic drink that is usually consumed with mezze plates. read more>
WHAT IS ARAK?
Arak is a traditional Lebanese alcoholic drink that is usually consumed with mezze plates.
Arak is best consumed with Lebanese mezze, usually on Sundays for lunch with family and friends. That makes it perfect for Lebanon's traditional mezze, spreads made from endless little dishes that family and friends enjoy for hours.
It is distilled from grapevines and fermented in barrels for three weeks.
Anise is added during the second of three distillation processes. The ratio of anise to alcohol can vary, which leads to different qualities.
Arak is usually made from Obeidi and Merwah grapes, the indigenous grape varieties of Lebanon.
Traditional food and drinks define the Lebanese identity. In many regions of Lebanon, a celebratory meal is never complete without a glass of arak, the country's national drink. This grape-based drink appears to be as much a part of the country's culinary history as tabbouleh and is popular with tourists and locals alike.
Arak is particularly high in alcohol, so water and ice are almost always added to dilute it. It takes on a milky white color when water is added.
Arak is comparable to the Greek ouzo or the Turkish raki, which are also grape-based drinks with the liquorice-like taste of anise.
Lebanese say Arak is milder and more velvety. In Lebanon and Syria, Arak is an indivisible part of identity.
Many villagers produce homemade arak baladeh and this is a source of pride for them. These people usually produce arak for personal use or as a gift to friends.
With so much in-house production, it's hard to tell how much arak is being made. It is estimated that the country produces around 2 billion bottles annually, almost a quarter of which is exported.
Drinkers discuss the best way to mix.
Some prefer half water, half arak - a strong, sweet mix, usually not for beginners. More often, a third of arak is to two thirds of water to prolong drinking and meeting.
Some bars in Beirut have introduced an infused version of arak, where a sprig of basil or rosemary is added to attract young drinkers. And some offer different cocktails with arak.