The origin and

History of Arak

Arabische Alchemisten
Arab alchemists discovered the secret of distillation in the Middle Ages. People only knew fermented drinks such as beer, wine and mead with a low alcohol content until then. The Arab scholars called their discovery Al-Kuhl, a term that originally referred to the antimony powder used to make up eyelids and eyebrows. Soon the result of the distillation of grape marc (left overs after pressing the grapes) was called arrak (arak, arrack, crack). And arak and its secret reached Europe when the Egyptian Fatamids ruled Sicily in the 11th century. It spread quickly throughout the Mediterranean harbours and is now knwon in Turkey as Raki, in Greece as Ouzo, in Italy as Sambuca, in France as Pastis and in Spain as Ojen. Furthermore Irish monks learned studied the process of making arak while traveling Europe and eventually invented whisky using the raw materials available in their homeland..
The ban on alcohol imposed by the Ottoman Sultan Murad IV resulted in the drastic reduction of alcohol consumption at the beginning of the 16th century. But many Muslims rejected the avoidance of the enjoyable arrack as an accompaniment to habitual food.
Sultan Murad
Today Arrak (English & French Arak) is a generic term covering a variety of spirits from Asia, India, the Middle East and North Africa. The name originally derives from the distillation process (araq meaning "escaping liquid" in Arabic) and in the Levant Arrak like the Turkish Raki is distilled from dried grape marc and flavoured with aniseed. While the French Pastis, the Greek Ouzo and the Turkish Raki each became known far beyond their national borders, the Lebanese Arrak is hardly known as the outside the Levant and credited as the father of Aniseschnaps. All Lebanese wineries produce arak as well, which is traditionally diluted with water and served with with starters (mezze). The combination with water causes the drink to become milky (louche-effect), which is the reason why arak carries its nickname "lion's milk".
Arak in Tonkrügen
The content of essential oils from the anise seeds are responsible for this effect, which do dissolve in alcohol, but not in water. There are now 28 registered producers in Lebanon, with a commercial Arak production in the in Zahlé region. The name of the Ghantous and Abu Raad Family grow with the discovery of the spirit, since they were one of the first. But anyone who owns vines can produce arak with a distiller and some patience. However, the commercial producers repeatedly point out that without modern equipment it is difficult to control the complete removal of methanol and unhealthy fusel oils during the first distillation process.
libanesischer Arak
The Arak is a classless folk drink that is drunk both in simple coffee houses and in the finest restaurants. It has the reputation of not causing hangovers after consumption, but still has an alcohol content of over 40% by volume. Arrak is always diluted with still (ice) water in a ratio between 1:1 and 1:5 since the high alcohol level would otherwise attack the mucous membranes.