The Milk of Lions: A History of Alcohol in the Middle East (Hardcover)

The Milk of Lions: A History of Alcohol in the Middle East By Joseph El-Asmar Cover Image
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Alcohol has been around for almost as long as man has. This book tells the story of alcoholic drinks in the Middle East region across the ages and follows the communities that have adopted them as part of their national identities. It explores the various cultural and religious attitudes regarding alcohol, with an emphasis on the production of Lebanon’s national drink, Araq.

Araq - or its sister spirits, pastis, raki, sambuca, mastika, and chartreuse to name just a few - traces its origins back to the very earliest distilled alcohol, in the fertile crescent that skirts the eastern end of the Mediterranean. Often known to the Lebanese as the Milk of Lions, it sits at center table in day-to-day life. Broader than simply a study of the region’s favorite digestif, this volume encompasses the general history of alcohol across the Middle East region, from early brewers in Pharaonic Egypt, through to the wine poets of the Abbasid courts and on to its popularity today. Written by an author with long personal experience of fine distilling, this fascinating account encompasses the details of how it is made and conducts an exploration of cultural references in literature and society today.

An essential companion for anyone who enjoys the magical milky swirl of iced water hitting aniseed liqueur, this volume celebrates the cherished drink from its earliest discovery through to its undiminished popularity today.

About the Author

Joseph El-Asmar’s long dedication to the profession of architecture is only matched by his passion for the vineyard he owns in his native village of Jezzine, in the South of Lebanon. In parallel to his design and construction activities, he founded in 1987 “Al Handasah," the first regular publication in Arabic on architecture and engineering, which he managed until 2000. Nowadays, he spends most of his time writing, perfecting his araq-making technique, and sharing his brew with family and friends.

Praise For…

"The book was inspired by the author’s decision to build a house in the middle of a vineyard close to Jezzine, in South Lebanon. His dream was not to produce wine, but to make a hand-crafted arak. This led to a whole series of questions about the history of arak in particular and alcohol in general, and he was unable to find the information he sought. So, he decided to do his own research, and this very readable, informative book is the result. It is also highly recommended." --Jerusalem Post

Product Details
ISBN: 9781908531933
ISBN-10: 1908531932
Publisher: Gilgamesh Publishing
Publication Date: September 1st, 2021
Pages: 200
Language: English