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Index / Food and Beverages /
Arak
Arabic: ¢araq
Other spellings: Araq, Arack, Arraq, Arrak, Arrack



Arak bottle
Arak distillation

Alcoholic beverage of the Middle East. It has a high percentage of alcohol and a strong anis flavour. It is colourless, but becomes white when mixed with water. Arak today is largely a product of Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
Arak is commonly made from grapes, beginning as wine, which is distilled in 3 processes. Aniseed are added in the second of these. In Iraq, dates are used instead of grapes.
The strength of the arak varies somewhat, and ranges usually between 30% and 60%.
The Lebanese town of Zahle is famous for its arak production, but Iraqi arak, which is less known, is of equal quality to the Lebanese.
The actual origins of arak are unknown, but the apparatus used in its production, known as alembic, was invented by Jabir ibn Hayyan, a Muslim of Kufa (Iraq).
Other countries around the Mediterranean Sea have similar drinks, of which the ouzo of Greece and the pastis of France are the most famous. In Egypt, a simpler but similar product is produced, called zbiba. Its does not turn white when water is added.




By Tore Kjeilen