Raki, an anise-flavored liquor (similar to arak or ouzo), was a favorite beverage of Sephardim living in Turkey, Greece, and Bulgaria. Since it is generally made from raisins—i.e., dried grapes—it requires special kosher supervision, so Jews often made their own. Eugene Normand and Albert S. Maimon relate the history of Jewish raki production in the Old World and the New:
One of the keys to the hallowed status of raki over the generations is the fact that it was usually made at home, with a home-made still, by the few men in the community to whom the brewing art was known, having been handed down by brewers of the previous generations. . . . One of the famous raki makers of the 19th century was in fact a rabbi, Meir Jacob Nahmias, who produced fine-quality raki in the city of Salonika on a commercial scale. Apparently his production secrets were passed down to his children. . . .
When the Ottoman Sephardim began immigrating to the United States, those who had the knowledge of how to make the raki set up shop on these shores. We see this very clearly in the experiences of the Turkish Sephardim who settled in Seattle. . . . All of these men, and some of the women too, loved their raki, so in short order those men who knew how to make the raki set up shop in their own homes and began producing because there was a large customer base waiting for the product.