An annual plant long cultivated for its aromatic and medicinal qualities, Anise is also one of the herbs that was believed to avert the "evil eye."

Anise-based spirits are prevalent in countries located in the Mediterranean or the Middle East. In the Middle East, Arak is a clear, colorless, unsweetened aniseed-flavored spirit. This spirit is known by many names: Pastis in France, Ouzo in Greece, Sambuca or Anisetta in Italy, Raki in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Arak in Lebanon.

Anise-flavored spirits are usually not drunk straight, but are mixed in approximately equal proportion with water, and ice is then added. This dilution causes the liquor to turn an opaque milky-white color, a process called louching. This technique provides a visual indication that the drink has been diluted, making it less potent than it would be in its straight form.