December Writing Challenge Day 30: Monitoring Mixology, or “How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the Bourbon” (part 1)

(This week’s post originally appeared on as a comment during the 2020 December Writing Challenge.)

By itself, arak (also known as “raki”) is not most people’s cup of tea. Or scotch. Or even beer. Unless you or a close family member hails from that  region of the world (looking at you, @yumdarling) it’s an acquired taste that most of us don’t choose to acquire.It’s a licorice-flavored drink similar to sambuca, ouzo, or pastis. 

Like 2020 itself, it’s overpowering, with a flavor many people find objectionable even in small amounts.But like 2020, I think that’s largely because folks often try to drink it as-is, like you might a shot of vodka. Like 2020, taken straight, it’s too much.

But also like 2020, that overlooks the very important reality that arak doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s merely one drink among many – one ingredient among many. Taken alone, many ingredients (as with many years) are bitter, harsh, and objectionable. If you take it as part of the larger whole, however, it gains relevance and adds meaning.

So here is my offering – a way of taking my ancestral heritage and blending it with the modern into something more palateable:

“Blushed Anise”

  • add ice to a tumbler
  • pour 2oz Arak over the ice
  • add a squirt of agave syrup
  • add a squeeze of lemon
  • pour in pink grapefruit juice to fill the glass
  • stir once

If you took everything but the Arak, this drink would be too tart and too sweet to enjoy. The arak gives it just a bit of an edge. It adds just a bit of depth to the whole.

May we all be blessed to be able to look back upon this year in the same way. Understanding it within the context of our lives as a point in time that added depth, meaning, urgency, and relevance, while taking nothing (or nothing of great importance) in return.

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