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.