Arrack - the word is from the Arabic, and means 'spirit' in the sense of high-proof, unsweetened liquor. There are three main types of spirit called arak or arrack. Arak is usually a geist or secondary spirit made by maceration anise in a neutral spirit, and then distilling that. In Greece it is called ouzo. Those products are fairly-widely available here in the U.S.A.
There are also products called arrack from farther to the east. One has become available again in the U.S.A. several years ago. It is Batavia arrack, from Indonesia. Batavia arrack is distilled from a sugarcane toddy that was fermented with a little red rice. Batavia arrack is mentioned in old drink books from the U.S.A. as being a good spirit to use in punch.
Arrack - the word is from the Arabic, and means 'spirit' in the sense of high-proof, unsweetened liquor. There are three main types of spirit called arak or arrack. Arak is usually a geist or
Punch itself was exposed to the English-speaking world when the British went to India and fell in love with it there. 'Pancha' in India was also made with arrack, but a rather different kind. In India and Ceylon, arrack is distilled from tari. Tari is the fermented nectar of the coconut palm blossom. Tari was Anglicized as 'toddy.' By the way, in the Philippines, lambanog is also distilled from coconut blossom toddy, and could be called Philippine arrack.
At present, no coconut blossom spirit is available in the U.S.A. There is one medium-quality bottling of Ceylon arrack being sold by Rockland in the U.K. It is for sale on the Whisky Exchange website. I have some. It is good to be able to make punch in its earliest-attested form.
I also like a little thing I put together of both Ceylon and Batavia arrack with just a little bit of two Caribbean liqueurs and orange additive bitters - all stirred through ice and strained. I call it the Trading Company Cocktail.
The stuff I would really like to get my hands on is some 15-year Mendis Old Arrack from Sri Lanka/Ceylon.
I don't suppose anyone knows anyone coming to Los Angeles from Sri Lanka....