The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

The Dusty Bottle: Batavia Arrack

By Anthony Todd in Food on Jul 5, 2012 6:20PM

2012_7_5_Arrack.jpg You ever wonder whether some of those strange old bottles at the back of bars ever get used? We asked some of our favorite bartenders and mixologists to identify a bottle of spirits that seemingly never got used - the dusty bottle. Then, we asked them to create a great drink with that neglected spirit. Any suggestions for liquors or bars? Email

Great bars these days often don't have as many dusty bottles as in years past - with the preponderance of craft cocktails and a constant need to stand out from the crowd, some of those old liquors are being used to add creative twists to cocktail menus. However, there are still some old clunkers that keep getting stocked, year after year.

According to Josh Pearson, the award-winning mixologist at Sepia, one of the dustiest bottles on his bar is Batavia Arrack. It's an ancestor of rum produced in Indonesia and Java, and in some cocktail circles is experiencing a brief renaissance. However, at most bars (if they even have it) it just sits on the very back shelf. It's not the same as Arak (or Raki), the middle eastern anise flavored liquor that is a first cousin to Greek Ouzo (though don't mention that to anyone in Greece).

Pearson likes to use Batavia Arrack in a "Swedish Punch," a boozy concoction that combines the spirit with rum, black tea and citrus. Try it next time you have a party.

Swedish Punch

1 cup Aged Agricole Rum
1/2 cup Batavia Arrack
1 cup strong hot black tea
1 cup fine white sugar
1 lemon sliced thinly, seeds removed
1 lime thinly sliced

In a container, pour rum and arrack over the citrus fruits. Mix together the tea and sugar and refrigerate to cool.

After 4 hours remove the rum from the citrus. Do not squeeze the fruit. Combine tea mixture and rum/arrack mixture. Filter through a sieve and pour into a bottle. Wait at least 24 hours before serving.