Produced in Ramallah, West Bank, by Ramallah Distilleries Co., Arak Ramallah was established in 1919 and was the first brand of arak to be exported to the United States. The Jubran family acquired Ramallah Distilleries Co. in 1945, and today it remains solely owned by brothers Nakhleh and Bishara Jubran, the third generation to produce Arak Ramallah.
Arak is a traditional, anise-flavored spirit famous for its potency and refreshing, palate-cleansing flavor and aroma. Arak has ancient origins and stands among the earliest distillates in human history. The term arak, or arrack, refers to either distillates made from rice and cane, such as Indonesia’s Batavia arrack, or anise-flavored spirits like Golden Arak. Anise-flavored arak is the traditional spirit of the Levant region and the Middle East and the higher-proof regional cousin to European favorites like sambuca, ouzo, and pastis. It is nicknamed the “Milk of Lions” for the way it turns a cloudy white when the anise oils meet water—a reaction commonly known by the French term louche.
While arak can be made from dates, sugar, plums, figs, and molasses, the base spirit is commonly distilled from grapes. Ramallah Distilleries Co. produces Ramallah Arak from mature, high-quality grapes, grown using low irrigation to enhance the concentration of sugars, harvested in September and October. The grapes are crushed and the juice is combined with aniseed and fermented in barrels for several weeks before it’s distilled in copper alembic stills—a still type that, along with arak, is nearly as old as distillation itself.
Traditionally served chilled over ice with water in a 1:3 or 2:3 ratio of arak to water, Ramallah Golden Arak is a refreshing and versatile anise-flavored spirit with an ideal proof for mixing into cocktails.