Here´s a very interesting spirit – a Coconut Arrak made from fermented coconut flowers!
This Arrak should not be confused with Batavia Arrak which is distilled from fermented sugar cane and rice. The original word “araq” is Arabian and was associated with the distillation process when the knowledge of how to distill spirits spread in the Middle East and Asia during the 14th century.
In the US it cannot be called Arrak due to US laws. It’s White Lion VSOA – (Very Special Old Arrack)
There are three completely different categories of Arrak:
Arak – from the Middle East, distilled from fermented grapes, licorice-flavored with anise seed.
Batavia Arrak – from Indonesia, distilled from fermented sugar cane and rice.
Coconut Arrak – from Sri Lanka, distilled from naturally fermented nectar of coconut flowers.
In South East Asia Arrak is distilled from three different types of palm trees (Coconut, Palmyra and Kithul) and Sri Lanka favors the Coconut Arrak. Coconut trees lives 60 years or more and provides a continuous supply of Coconut flower nectar for a very long time and each tree provides 300 litres of nectar every year.
During the 18th century Arrak was used as a substitute for rum ratios for sailers in South East Asia by the British Royal Navy and Marco Polo mentioned Arrak in his 13th century diary Il Milione. Also Arrak was an ingredient in several recipes in Jerry Thomas original 1882 book The Bartender´s Guide. So it´s a very old spirit…
How Coconut Arrak is made:
It starts with the so called Toddy Tappers – young men scaling Coconut trees early in the morning before dawn balancing on tight ropes strung between 80 foot tall Coconut tree tops to harvest the yet unopened flowers of the trees.
They slice open the buds with machetes to release the fresh nectar into clay pots. Each tree yields 2 liters of nectar a day. The nectar is rich in natural sugar and wild yeasts and starts to ferment naturally into a mildly alcoholic syrup called toddy.This natural fermentation is unique to Coconut Arrak.
Within four hours of harvest the toddy is quality tested and transported to Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka where the toddy is distilled, a craft with 700 years of master blenders expertise and refinement. Initially the toddy is separated – a portion to be distilled in copper pot stills and the other portion in continuous column stills.
Then the two distillates are married together in casks of Halmilla wood to rest and mature for 24 months. And the result is VSOA – Very Special Old Arrak
And that´s what i have here now, to be tasted and used in a few cocktails. A quite exciting spirit to work with!
The color of the Arrak is a golden hue of amber and the nose is tropical floral with hints of vanilla and some nuttiness.
On the palate it´s mild and sweet, with the same tropical floral notes, hints of vanilla and with a nutty finish.
I think it would be a great cocktail ingredient but can also be sipped neat with an ice cube since it´s mild and quite smooth. It`s not very complex but it has a mild balance of pleasant aromas and it`s somewhat like a blend of sweet rum and whiskey. It`s definitely a unique spirit!
Tropical Arrak Sling
1.5 oz White Lion Coconut Arrack
.5 oz cherry Liqueur (Cherry Heering)
.25 oz orange liqueur (Combier Grande Liqueur)
.25 oz Benedictine
.25 oz hibiscus grenadine
1 oz pineapple juice
.75 oz fresh lime juice
Soda to top
A couple dashes bitters on top of the ice
I used a combination of Angostura and Brazilian Zulu bitters.
Combine all ingredients except bitters and soda in a mixing glass with ice, strain into a tall glass wrapped in a banana leaf or napkin and top up with crushed ice, top with soda and fill up with more crushed ice.
Top with bitters.
Garnish with cherry and piece of banana leaf.
Tropical and cherry forward, this sling which is as you can see from the recipe is inspired by the classic Singapore sling – makes me think of tropical porches in front of the sea…
Coconut Arrak Painkiller
A painkiller with Coconut Arrak…
4 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
1 oz orange juice
1 oz Coco Real or Lopez coconut ream
1 oz White Lion Coconut Arrak
1 oz Pusser`s Rum or dark Jamaican Rum
Shake with plenty of crushed ice and pour unstrained into a tall glass or tiki mug.
Dust with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Garnish with pineapple leaf and cherry.
This is a perfect drink for the coconut arrak!