How to Make Arrack-tails With Batavia Arrack


If you’re a rum lover, allow us to introduce you to rum’s distant, much less known cousin, arrack, a bright, funky Southeast Asian spirit distilled from the fermented sap of coconut flowers, sugarcane, grain or fruit.

You won’t see arrack lining the shelves of your local liquor store, but there is one brand that has found its way to America and cemented itself as a staple in the cocktail world: Batavia Arrack van Oosten. Distilled from molasses and red rice, Batavia comes from the island of Java. It first appeared in the U.S. during the 18th and 19th centuries thanks to Dutch immigrants (Java was a part of the Dutch East Indies), and it became an essential ingredient in the era’s drink of choice: punch. Sadly, taxation and the increasing popularity of rum eventually edged arrack out of the American market. The spirit fell into obscurity until Haus Alpenz brought van Oosten back to the U.S. in 2007.

While it’s not typically sipped straight—Batavia Arrack’s somewhat divisive flavors have been compared to fermented fruit, cloves and horseradish—the spirit has proven itself to be a surprisingly versatile cocktail ingredient. Bartenders are using it not only to recreate classic, old school punches, but also in new concoctions that harness arrack’s unique flavor.

"Arrack is a delicious, complex addition to cocktails,” says Jim Kearns of New York City’s Slowly Shirley. “Its funky, earthy characteristics add depth and a multi-layered quality to drinks."

After you pick up a bottle, sift through your copy of Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide and make one or eight of his incredible arrack-based punches. Then, branch out and try one of these three new arrack cocktails.

This swizzle from Nick Bennett of New York City’s Porchlight deliciously straddles the end of summer and beginning of autumn. Though frosty and refreshing, the drink hints ever so slightly at the cooler temperatures to come with a combination of bitter Aperol, rich Batavia Arrack and licorice-flavored anisette.

The Essentials

Batavia Arrack
lime juice
This frothy cocktail might look like a Rum Flip, but it tastes nothing like one. “The concept for the Tiger Style was to create a cocktail around flavors and products from Indonesia and the Philippines,” says Chad Solomon, co-creator of Midnight Rambler in Dallas and creator of the drink. “Batavia Arrack’s funky aromatic qualities and over-proof nature make for a great counter to citrus, sugar, and spice." It’s fresh enough for a balmy day and comforting enough for a chilly evening.

The Essentials

Batavia Arrack
palm syrup
This drink from Slowly Shirley's Jim Kearns looks eerie but tastes ethereal. Made with a base of aged rum and Batavia Arrack, it gets a hit of bright acidity from tart calamansi puree and orange juice, mellow sweetness from honey and a spicy kick from ginger. It gets its spooky hue from activated charcoal, which allegedly helps flush toxins out of your system—but mostly it just looks cool. Topped with hibiscus liqueur and an orchid, it’s a hauntingly delicious sipper.

The Essentials

Batavia Arrack
Boiron Kalamansi purée

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