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June 21, 2010

Sipping Arak at Lebanese Taverna

all the necessary ingredients for a delightful glass of ArakFriday night, Amie and I had some time to kill before seeing a movie in Harbor East, so we decided to slip into Lebanese Taverna.

After scanning the drink list, I went with a serving of Arak (pictured). I'd never had the Middle Eastern anise-flavored alcohol before, but as you know, I'm always game to try new things.

The presentation was arresting: A metal tray with a small glass carafe of Arak, a little glass pitcher of water and a metal ice bucket. It looked like a lot just for one drink.

Arak is a clear liquor that turns milky white when you add water. It's typically served on ice and cut with water.

Our helpful server poured some Arak into a small glass for me and dropped in a few ice cubes. Slowly, the Arak began to turn white. Yikes stripes! I felt like an amateur chemist ...

Then I took a swig. Remember those big rolls of black string licorice you saw/ate as a kid? Arak tasted just like a mouthful of that. Two mouthfuls. It was intense -- my mouth could barely handle it. Ditto for my liver. Adding water did little to dampen the flavor. I was still burping up licorice hours later. Gack!

It wasn't easy, but I finished the generous serving. Our waiter said it was 100 percent alcohol, which may or may not be true, but I'm inclined to believe it. I was woozy after one serving. A sizable serving, but one serving nonetheless.

I can't say I'm eager for another round of Arak, but I'm glad I tried it. 

(Photo by me)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:16 AM | | Comments (6)


sounds exactly like Absinthe or Pernot

If it were 100% alcohol, not only would it be undrinkable and illegal but there would be no flavor whatsoever.

@Geoff -- Yes, it reminded me of absinthe. Forgot to include that in the post. Thanks for reminding me.

@Alexander D. Mitchell IV -- What if it was 110 percent alcohol? WHAT THEN?!?!?! Science only goes so far ...

Our waiters like to make our guests feel better about themselves and their tolerance!

Arak is 53% alcohol, or 20-30% diluted, the way Sam tried it.

We won't hold it against you!

@Alexander -- I feel better about myself already. Thanks!

So they probably MEANT 100 proof

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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