A middle eastern drink.
Arak, also known as lion’s milk, is the most popular alcoholic drink in the middle east, which is an essential ingredient in various types of celebrations.
However, this drink has a certain ritual, to live the experience of drinking it according to the origins. Arak is made from grapes and anise seeds, distilled twice, and mixed with some cold water before drinking it.
Drinking arak is a traditional ritual of the celebration, and one of the traditions of drinking it is to knock the bottoms of the cups together before drinking.
It is advised not to drink Arak on an empty stomach. Among the most famous dishes that go along with the arak drink, are oriental mezze dishes, such as muhammara or raw meat.
The first mezze dish served with arak is the sliced cantaloupe with feta cheese, and it is usually served with arak without the need to order.
There is usually a troupe of male musicians in Turkish bars, who play melodies on oriental musical instruments, such as the qanun, lute, or flute. This group is known in Turkish as “Fasil Ekipi”.
Arak can’t be drunk directly, but it is diluted by adding about twice the amount of water, and adding ice cubes to it. This dilution, especially in the Turkish, Shami and Iraqi type of it, which is sometimes called Zahlawi, causes the color of the Arak to change from colorless to white like milk.
The well-known tradition is to add water before the ice, because if the ice is added first, an undesirable layer will form on the top of the drink, and for the same reason the same cup cannot be used, and a new one must be used. So, in restaurants, when arak is ordered, several glasses are brought along with the bottle.
The most famous type of Arak in the world Rakia in Serbia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Albania and Greece. Cognac in France. Water of life or Almahah in Morocco.
Arak has always been prepared from fermented grapes with the addition of anise, as in Syria, but there are variations in some countries. The name varies in countries such as Turkey, where it is called “raki”, and it is called ouzo in Greece, the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria. In these countries, it may also be made from many seeds such as figs, peaches and potatoes. Among the varieties of arak is also the Iraqi arak, which is made from fermented date juice, and from raisins in Egypt.
In Iran, it is called ‘erg seki’, meaning ‘dog Arak, and it is made without anise and has a high alcohol content.
And the “Arak” drinking sessions turn into sessions to “open the heart” and share worries and secrets between friends.