Thursday, April 13, 2017

Gantous & Abou Raad Arak

By Warren Bobrow

The language of travel supersedes the need to actually speak the semantic of the place.  As does travel, the need to fill the belly with more than just laughs- actual food- should take precedent over dialogue.  The same holds true for strong drink.  I always recommend taking some food when imbibing and the conversation will just flow- as marvelous as the food and drink that fills the gut- and the soul!

Arak (Middle Eastern in derivative)-distilled from grapes and anise seed, as opposed to Arrak- distilled from sugarcane (popular in Southeast Asia) is what fills my gut and my heart.  Arak is the last thing on my lips- and the first thing into my memories.  It is mystical and aromatic with memorable herbal elements of more than just licorice.  There are history lessons to be learned with each measured sip of Arak.

DrinkUpNY is fortunate to carry the classic Arak: Gantous & Abou Raad Arak

In my research on the topic, Arak is the same final product as Ouzo and Raki.  They are all created from grape based alcohol that is rectified and flavored with the same ingredients.  Anise Seed is used like juniper in gin and it gives Raki, Ouzo and Arak their signature flavors of licorice and reminiscences.  There is a certain Terroir in these liqueurs and they truly taste of the place where they are produced.  It’s quite uncanny actually.  I can taste the friendly nature of the people who make each drop.  They seem to beckon me to the table to enjoy a sip or two against the blistering heat. 

A favored way to enjoy Arak, as well as Ouzo and Raki is in a slender glass with a drizzle of water to release the volatile oils and aromatics.  Ice is usually not produced, nor is it offered as ice would have been impossible to attain and keep cold in the often arid temperatures of the Middle East where Arak is permitted and celebrated.

I’m a fan of flavors and tastes that evoke a far off place.  In this regard, I’m calling attention to this region of the world.  More out of a metaphor for conversation though the filling of the belly. Then as an added benefit there is good food and fine drink such as this Arak. 

And as health is my metaphor, may I suggest a portion of freshly crushed carrot juice to act as a determinate for the potent Arak?  Absolutely.  And because Arak is frequently no less than 50% alcohol, it needs very little to unleash the fire held deeply within. The grape base is aged in clay amphorae like they made wine 5000 years ago!  Talk about history!

Gantous & Abou Raad Arak is produced in a place further afield in the Middle East, this case is Lebanon, where the finest Arak is produced using the most historic methods including the use of copper pot stills and low temperature, through multiple distillations and the infusion of anise seed. 

Phoenician Carrot Frappe
3 oz. Gantous & Abou Raad Arak
2 oz. Freshly crushed carrot juice
Crushed Ice
Fresh mint- (drop cut end in boiling water for 10-15 seconds, then store in ice water cut end down)

To a Burgundy Wine glass- add the crushed ice
To a Boston Shaker- add the Arak and the carrot juice- add bar-ice to fill ¾ and cap, shake hard for 15.5 seconds.  Double strain over the ice in the Burgundy glass
Garnish with the fresh mint, add more ice to the glass, if necessary

Serve with a full stomach and empty your mind

Cheers from all of us at DrinkUpNY!

Warren Bobrow is the celebrated author/bar man and mixologist responsible for the 1st book on the topic, Cannabis Cocktails.

Warren has written to date four books, Apothecary Cocktails, Whiskey Cocktails and Bitters/Shrub Syrup Cocktails.  His first book, Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail. Warren has been a dishwasher, and a pot scrubber- a cook- and a saucier.  He cooked professionally around the country, Portland, Me., Charleston, Sc., Scottsdale, Az., New Hope, Pa., He owned and lost his fresh pasta manufacturing company located in Charleston, SC in 1989- Hurricane Hugo.

Then came a twenty-year career in Banking.  Don’t ask!  Demoralizing yet, essential.
Fortunate to do what he is passionate about, Warren has five books in May 2017 and more ideas on the way.  Ministry of Rum judge, Rum XP associate, American Distilling Institute, Saveur 100, Oxford Encyclopedia, Sage Encyclopedia, Whole Food/Dark Rye,, Barrell Bourbon.   He taught a deep dive on rum at the Moscow Bar Show, taught at Stonewall Kitchen, Attended the Fetes Gastronomie in Burgundy, traveled to Abruzzo in Italy for wine and Michelin starred foods, just to name just a few.  From failed-executive assistant in a bank to tastemaker to the world.
Never working yet never not working.  Smoke and Mirrors.  Authentic.

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