Tipplers in Teheran Chose Armenian-made Arak as Their Beverage of Choice

Although strongly discouraged by Iran’s conservative
Muslim government, discreet alcohol consumption remained popular in some
suburbs of the nation’s capital until international sanctions caused the price
of imported vodka to triple in the past year.
But according to The Economist magazine, tipplers in
Teheran are now toasting each other with arak supplied by the region’s
enterprising Armenians.

Although Armenians in Iran have certainly been distilling
the traditional raisin-based libation for centuries, there hadn’t been much
demand for it outside their community until the price of popular vodkas such as
Absolut skyrocketed.

“Posh drinkers of the better brands of whiskey and brandy,
who would previously have been snooty about arak, are now turning to it,” the
magazine reports.   The reason is that
arak’s price has remained stable and cheap at the equivalent of $3 a liter.
(Note to self: Order a case!)

For Armenians, the sudden popularity of arak has been a
bonanza. “Many of my Armenian friends have left for America,” one arak dealer
told the magazine. “But they all now say business is better here.”

The Economist reports that Armenian Christians are exempt
from Iran’s no-drinking laws, although anyone selling the stuff in large
quantities can be thrown in jail. For non-Armenians, there can be far more
serious consequences to the arak craze.
Death, for instance.

A Muslim drinker arrested as a repeat offender can be
executed, but even those who avoid government suspicion run other risks
associated with a black market of unregulated home brew. One bad batch was
blamed for 350 illnesses and six deaths in one week.
Anyone who wants peace of mind as well as a smooth drink
should stick with the trusted source, the magazine reported.

“If your dealer isn’t
Armenian don’t even think about getting it,” one consumer said.

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