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Centuries on, Lebanese national liquor still makes eyes water

Lebanon's beloved arak is similar to other anise-based drinks like Greek ouzo or Turkish raki, but it still enjoys a distinct and proud local tradition.

TAANAYEL, Lebanon — Bobbing up and down in the circles of the folk dance dabkeh and eating a rich assortment of dips, meats and vegetables known as mezze, hundreds of people celebrated a drink that makes both dabkeh and mezze more enjoyable, the anise-based spirit Arak.

The small town of Taanayel's Festival de L'Arak, now in its fourth year, was held June 15-16 in the Bekaa Valley. Run by Arcenciel, a Lebanese nongovernmental organization that promotes diversity and development, at the organization’s EcoLodge hotel, the event celebrated the long history and unique cultural role of Lebanon’s national drink.

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