Arak or araq (Arabic: ÚÑÞ pronounced [ʕaraq], but pronunciation greatly differs depending on the variety of Arabic) is a clear, colourless, unsweetened aniseed-flavoured distilled alcoholic drink (also labeled as an Apéritif). It is the traditional alcoholic beverage in Syria, Lebanon and Israel. It is also produced and consumed in the Eastern Mediterranean, Northern African countries, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories.

Arak is usually not drunk straight, but is mixed in approximately 1/3 arak to 2/3 water, and ice is then added. This dilution causes the clear liquor to turn a translucent milky-white color; this is because anethole, the essential oil of anise, is soluble in alcohol but not in water. This results in an emulsion, whose fine droplets scatter the light and turn the liquid translucent, a phenomenon known as louching. Arak is also commonly mixed with teas and juices. Drinkers may also take arak with a chaser on the side. Arak is usually served with mezza, which could include dozens of small dishes, which many arak drinkers prefer as accompaniment rather than main courses. When the main course of the meal is served, it may hardly be touched, in favour of these smaller dishes. It is also well appreciated with barbecues, along with garlic sauce.

Tradition requires that water is added before ice. If ice is added directly, it results in the formation of an aesthetically unpleasant skin on the surface of the drink, as the ice causes the fat to solidify out of the arak. If water is added first, the ethanol causes the fat to emulsify, leading to the characteristic milky colour. For the same reason some drinkers prefer not to reuse an arak-filled glass. In restaurants, when a bottle of arak is ordered, the waiter will usually bring a number of glasses along with it for this reason, whilst at home with regular drinkers it's deemed unnecessary.

[edit] Preparation

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