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On the outskirts of the city famed for Jesus' birth, the 35-year-old illustrates the handcrafted way he makes arak, an anise-flavored drink popular in the Middle East.The cramped basement contains three small stills, six barrels and a testing area.At the Berlin International Spirits Competition, he went one better and took home gold, as well as Arak of the Year.In a small Palestinian arak sector, Muaddi's boutique spirit sells for 150 shekels ($40) a bottle.Muaddi, who was born in the United States and has dual American and Palestinian citizenship, said arak, which is made with grapes and aniseed, was a staple growing up in the Arab community in the United States.Muaddi, who works full time for an international charity, said arak production had declined decades ago and quality suffered.So, 10 years ago he began making his own arak as a hobby, ordering how-to books on Amazon.Steve Shahwan, who works at the Vodka & More shop in Bethlehem, said its biggest seller was whisky, but arak was gaining popularity due to a better selection being on offer.
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