What makes Arak one of the most favoured drinks in the Middle East?

Step into any Middle Eastern restaurant here in Australia or anywhere in the world, and you’ll find Arak on the menu. 

This fragrant, cloudy drink is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine and a must-try for those looking to explore more flavours of the world.  

What is Arak? 

Arak is a spirit made from anise seeds and fermented grapes.

Unlike some spirits, it is quite flavourful and tasty, so it is usually enjoyed simply with water and ice rather than with a mixer or in a cocktail. The flavour is best described as a strong liquorice taste, but different brands and preparation methods can give it herbal, fruity, or grassy notes. 

There is no added sugar in Arak, but when you add water and ice, it does turn its characteristic ‘milky’ colour, which is why it carries the nickname ‘the milk of lions’ across the Middle East.

It does have a high alcohol content – it can be anywhere from 40% to 60% – which is also why those who enjoy Arak will typically add water and ice to dilute it somewhat. 

The history of Arak 

Distillation of Arak began sometime around the 12th century. Its history tends to follow in the path of the Arab-Islamic conquests, spreading across the empire as a popular drink (despite the prohibition against alcohol consumption in Islam!). 

Traditionally, Arak is only made with grapes and aniseed. However, other variations have included sweet additions such as figs, plums, dates, and sugar. However, the classic Arak spirit is still the essential ingredients of just anise and grape. 

In Lebanon, the country has outlined what Arak is by law. The spirit must be made with white grapes and triple-distilled before diluting to 53% alcohol. It must also be aged for one year in clay before it is ready to be served or sold. 

It should come as no surprise that Arak is Lebanon’s national drink!

Whether you’re a traditionalist or prefer the variations of Arak, this beloved drink has become a must for any Middle Eastern social gathering today.


How to enjoy Arak 

If you’re new to Arak, you’re in for a treat.

When you order Arak from our beverages menu, you’ll notice that we don’t just have one or two options – we offer a variety of styles and brands to try both by the glass and the bottle.

We’ll serve your choice at the table with beautiful traditional glasses for the full experience.


Arak shines on its own, so you can enjoy it neat, on the rocks or with a bit of water. We recommend trying it each way to see which you like best. 

We can’t wait to introduce you to one of our favourite drinks and let you discover this delightful, liquorice-flavoured sipper for yourself. Make a booking for Alma’s Kitchen at Wetherill Park to begin your Arak adventure!