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What is arak - the Arabic variant of raki
Arak is an unsweetened aniseed schnapps made from grapes. Arak is, so to speak, the Arabic version of raki, actually its forerunner. Ethymologically, the word raki comes from the word arak, which means sweat. It was derived from the drops of alcohol that dripped down from the still.
Arak comes mainly from the countries of the Orient such as Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Iraq and Jordan. Like raki, it is diluted with water and enjoyed with starters.
There is also an Indian and (Southeast) Asian variant of the Arak, which is usually sweeter. This variant is made from sugar cane or rice. The spelling Arrack or Arrak is often used for these variants, but the drink does not contain aniseed and therefore cannot be compared with Arak or Raki. So there is also no white cloudiness when mixed with water, and the spirit can therefore be compared more with rum or whiskey.
Is Arak Alcohol?
A very clear yes! Arak, no matter what region of the world, and no matter what raw material and in what spelling, is a high-proof schnapps. The Arabian Arak is almost always over 50% vol. Alcohol content, and the Asian and Indian variants are always high-percentage distilled alcohol.
It is believed that the arak has its origin in the Indo-Asiatic region and was originally a distillate from fermented palm juice (palm wine). For a long time the word arak was used there as a synonym for all kinds of alcoholic beverages. In the Persian-Ottoman region, palm wine was then replaced by wine made from grapes and mixed with aniseed.
What is the difference between arak and raki?
Actually there are hardly any differences. Like raki, arak is also made from grape mash and mixed with aniseed. In the case of the arak, grapes and aniseed from local, i.e. Arab, origin are of course mainly used. Probably the biggest difference is in the alcohol content. While raki contains at least 40%, but mostly 45% alcohol, the arak is much stronger and usually contains 50% or more alcohol.
Furthermore, the arak is generally not sweetened, whereas the raki can have variants with added sugar.
Arak becomes cloudy when mixed with water (louche effect), as does raki or other anisees.
How does arak taste?
Arak is similar to raki, a grape brandy mixed with aniseed. Therefore, the taste, which can be described as licorice-like, is also similar. By adding water and / or ice as usual, however, the intensity of the taste can always be adapted to personal preferences. Especially in summer it is advisable to “adjust” the arak according to the temperatures.
Arak for baking?
When people talk about arak for baking, they actually always refer to the Indian / Asian variant, which is made from sugar cane and is more comparable to a rum. So it can always be easily replaced as a baking ingredient with rum or rum aroma. We have heard of rakike biscuits, but we are not aware of any other pastry that uses aniseed schnapps as an ingredient.
What is arak liquor?
As already explained above, Arak is an aniseed schnapps made from fermented grapes, which is mixed with aniseed after the first distillation process. Through maceration, the alcohol removes the typical oils and the associated flavors from the anise. This is often followed by further distillation passes. Arak can therefore be compared with raki, although it is almost always of a higher alcohol content.