Not to be confused with Lebanese Arak (an anise-flavored spirit similar to Ouzo) or Sri Lankan Arak (a distilled palm wine made from coconut milk), Batavia Arrack is a Javanese/Dutch distilled spirit made from sugarcane and fermented red rice. Prized for its ability to highlight spices, citrus and chocolate, the spirit, which was traded by the Dutch East India Company, was especially popular in the heyday of the "Punch"--between the late 17th and 19th centuries. It is a quintessential ingredient in many of the Punch recipes included in famed New York bartender Jerry Thomas's book How to Mix Drinks, or the Bon Vivant's Companion. For a more contemporary take, buy a copy of David Wondrich's wonderful book, aptly called Punch, a bottle of Batavia Arrack and mix away!
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