Arak, Lebanon’s national drink, is distilled from grapevines and anise seeds and left to ferment for several weeks, some up to 3 years.
That strong Lebanese drink is known as the Milk of Lions, referring to its cloudy white color when the anise oils meet water in the drinker’s glass.
It is also labeled as such for being a strong spirit, with an alcohol percentage ranging from 40% to 63%.
Arak is part of Lebanon’s culinary heritage and is served with Mezza, the array of appetizers and light dishes known to the Lebanese traditional gatherings over a meal.
In traditional Lebanese culture, the Arak has also been used as a home remedy to temporarily soothe adults’ toothaches. The liquid is gently dubbed with the tip of the finger on the aching tooth for immediate relief. No wonder in that. The anise in the arak works as an anesthetic.
Arak is now booming in the global market. According to a recent report by A2Z Market Research, the demands on the Arak has been on a steady growth globally and it’s mainly due to 2 reasons:
- it is becoming more and more popular among the younger generation
- there is a new trend of using the Arak as a key ingredient in a variety of cocktails, and that trend is expected to boom worldwide by 2027-2028, according to the report.
The Lebanese Milk of Lions is a must-try in its traditional form at least once in a lifetime.
If you want to have a wholesome Arak experience in Lebanon, here is a list of distilleries you should check out:
#1 Arak Touma
Known for its excellent production of Arak, this family-owned and managed distillery has been producing the Lebanese Milk of Lions since 1888 in Lebanon. The distillery is located in Qob Elias, Bekaa.
Contact: +961 08 500 801
#2 Arak Abou Akl
The founder of this Lebanese Arak brand, Moussa Abi Akl, created his own Arak trademark in 1935. He started exporting his triple-distilled products to Canada in the 1980s and to the US in the 1990s. The Lebanese diaspora claimed that his Arak tastes like home.
Arak Abou Akl is located in Mtein. Contact +961 71 615 717.
#3 Arak Al Karram
Since 1983, Arak Al Karram, a family business, was handed from one generation to another, producing distinctively flavored Arak in the Bekaa valley.
Contact +961 03 960 998.
#4 Abi Raad Group
Another old distillery in Zahle, Abi Raad was founded in 1936 and has been crafting high-quality Arak known as Al-Khityar. The group also produces wine, liquor, and Lebanese syrups like Jelleb.
Contact: +961 70 395 107.
#5 Riachi Distillery
Riachi Winery & Distillery located in El-Khenchara, Mount Lebanon takes pride in its 8 generations of crafting wine and Arak. It has been also producing gin, vodka and whiskey.
Contact +961 03 939 562.
#6 Chateau Nakad
Chateau Nakad in Jdita was founded in 1923 and boasts three generations of winemakers from the Bekaa Valley. Along with its variety of wine, it produces a well-distilled Arak “Al-Samir” which you can enjoy while admiring the beautiful view around its permisses.
Contact +961 08 540 191.
#7 Arak Brun, Domaine des Tourelles
Domaine des Tourelles produces Arak Brun, a traditionally pure Arak. It’s located in Jdita, Chtoura. Contact +961 03 775 943.
#8 Chateau Musar
Founded by Gaston Hochar in 1930, the acclaimed winery of Chateau Musar also produces a special Ara brand: L’Arak De Musar.
In Bekaa, the current owner Marc Hochar utilizes the fourth Arak distillation for extra smoothness. Contact: +961 01 201 828
The Massaya in Faraya is a wine resort with extensive cellars carved into the mountain rock. In addition to its reputable wines, its distillery produces a traditional Arak brand, in an elegant blue bottle that calls for tasting.
It has also a base in Taanayel, Chtaura (Bekaa) – Contact +961-3-735795
#10 Beit Ebrine – La Maison de l’Arak
You can enjoy Arak Beit Ebrine in the village of Aabrin, just out of Batroun, with delicious food in the heart of nature.
#11 Chateau Cana
After drinking Chateau Cana’s phenomenal Arak, you can enjoy “La Maison Du Chateau”, a guesthouse in Ras El Harf, Mount Lebanon for a relaxed stay surrounded by nature and vineyards.
Contact +961 81 34 00 43 or +961 81 32 00 64 for reservations.
#12 Arak du Marje
Located in Jdeidet Marjeyoun, south of Lebanon, Les Vignes du Marje produces wine and also Arak. Founded and managed by Carole Khoury, the distillery carries the old arak-making traditions of her family.
The Arak du Marje is crafted with expertise and distilled four times to generate that refined and pure Milk of Lions.
Contact: +961 (3) 435-494
#13 Chateau Fakra
Chateau Fakra makes remarkable Arak that you can enjoy with the best Lebanese Mezza.
For reservation, contact +961 09 635 111/222.
#14 Domaine Wardy
In Zahle, the family-owned business displays the Lebanese heritage, fermenting its Wardy Arak from high-quality, fresh grapes.
Get in contact with +961 08 930 141.
#15 Château Ksara
In addition to their great wines, the ancient winery of Chateau Ksara, initially founded by the Jesuits in 1857 in the Bekaa Valley, also produces Arak, known as the Ksarak.
They are open 7 days a week, for wine and arak tasting. There is also a restaurant.
Contact: +961 1 497 797
#16 Cedrus Arak
Boutros Kazan & Sons Distillery was founded by the Kazan brothers in 1919. It is deemed the first arak trademark company in Lebanon and is active in the Lebanese and Canadian markets.
Cedrus Arak is expertly crafted in the Bekaa Valley using rare gold grapes and left to mature in clay jars for three years.
Contact :+961 5 45 65 66
#17 Arak Mtallat
A Lebanese artisanal Arak, the Mtallat is handcrafted using a process that dates back 120 years. It is triple-distilled in Smar Jbeil, in small batches using the oldest and most recognized still design, the alembic pot-still.⠀
Mtallat brands itself in a modern way without relinquishing the traditional, and its Arak has been used in several cocktail recipes appealing to the new generation of Arak lovers.
Contact +961 71 333 500
#18 Ixsir Arak
An acclaimed product of the Ixsir winery, located in Bazbina, just outside Batroun. Established in 2008, the site is worth the trip also for its amazing rooftop restaurant (Thursdays to Saturdays) with splendid views.
Contact: +961 71 631 613
#19 Domaine Le Toubib
As the name indicates, Domaine Le Toubib is the creation of a doctor with a passion for Lebanese artisanal arak and wine. It is a home-based distillery producing rare Arak, as well as several types of wines, all acclaimed to be top-notch.
It is located in Hsoun, Mount-Lebanon, and has a beautiful garden with great views. Contact: +961 3 635 900
#20 Homemade Arak Baladeh is everywhere!
A countless number of local villagers distill their homemade Arak. They typically produce arak for personal use or as a gift to friends. Some sell them on demand.
Arak’s importance among villagers is undeniable. Home-made spirits preserve the traditional Lebanese Arak’s quality.