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Another Dose of an 'Arak' Attack!

November 10, 2005 By:
Dave Gordon, JE Feature
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Marty Kairey, a resident of New Jersey who is commercially brewing his very own liqueur, also wants to bring an old-country drink to the tables of the new country.

That drink is called arak - a Middle Eastern delicacy with a long history, being sold under the brand name "Zachlawi."

And it is arriving as a stylish drink in a stylish manner: The wavy, clear-glass bottle "is something you'll quickly recognize, and different from anything else in taste and in look," affirms the 43-year-old entrepreneur.

Kairey, of Syrian-Sephardic background, is a self-described enthusiast with a meticulous streak for emulating old-fashioned formulas. He's a stickler for good reason: There must be something to it, since people have been drinking and making arak for hundreds of years without adulterating the recipe.

Kairey, who says he wants to introduce that old-time flavor to a new generation, adds that his distillery is the first to open in the New Jersey area in more than 60 years.

Commercially available arak is brewed with molasses. Kairey preferred to use other ingredients, based on generations of making and drinking arak.

Zachlawi is made with fresh ingredients like figs, raisins and star anise. "It has a major impact on the final product," he says, explaining that star anise smells like black licorice, and adds that kind of taste to the liquor.

Almost a year in the making, he expects the drink to arrive on shelves by Chanukah, in select cities in California, New Jersey, New York and Florida, and also in some parts of Canada.

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