Arak has a beguiling aniseed flavor and freshness that cleanses the palate and aids digestion. It is often served as an aperitif and then as the perfect accompaniment to a classic selection of mezze, the array of dishes with contrasting aromas that starts many lunchtime or evening meals in Lebanon. Arak works particularly well with the mezze dishes that include parsley, raw tomatoes, lemon, mint, and garlic – flavors that are sometimes harder to match with wine.
In winter, when the cuisine is based on beans, potatoes, stews, wines offer a more compatible accompaniment.
Our ancestors used to drink in winter the heart-warming wine and a refreshing arak in summer. This was a perfect way to follow the cycle of nature. In September they picked the grapes, ate what they could, and fermented what was left into wine. In winter they drank the wine and the leftover was distilled into arak, and then in summer the arak was consumed with the mezze. It was a pragmatic and environmentally friendly way of life! The Phoenicians and their descendants were respectful of nature’s cycles; they were pioneers of minimizing the ecological footprint, way before it became a hot topic.