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Bottle of sambuca

Sambuca (Italian pronunciation: [samˈbuːka]) is an Italian anise-flavoured liqueur. Its most common variety is often referred to as white sambuca to differentiate it from other varieties that are deep blue (black sambuca) or bright red (red sambuca).[1] Like other anise-flavoured liqueurs, the ouzo effect is sometimes observed when combined with water.


Sambuca is flavoured with essential oils obtained from star anise, or less commonly, green anise. Other spices such as elderflower, liquorice and others may be included but are not required as per the legal definition. It is bottled at a minimum of 38% alcohol by volume.[1][2] The oils are added to pure alcohol, a concentrated solution of sugar, and other flavours.


The term comes from the Latin word sambucus, meaning "elderberry".[3] The word sambuca was first used as the name of another elderberry liquor that was created in Civitavecchia around 1850 by Luigi Manzi.[4]


Sambuca may be served neat. It may also be served on the rocks or with water, resulting in the ouzo effect from the anethole in the anise. Like other anise liqueurs, it may be consumed after coffee as an ammazzacaffè or added directly to coffee in place of sugar to produce a caffè corretto.[5]

A serving of sambuca can be a shot with seven coffee beans, representing the seven hills of Rome. Likewise, a shot with one coffee bean, called con la mosca, which means "with the fly", is as common. The traditional serving is with three coffee beans, each representing health, happiness and prosperity.[3][6] The shot may be ignited to toast the coffee beans with the flame extinguished immediately before drinking.[7]

Sambuca is also used in cooking, in small amounts because it has a strong flavor. It is usually used in desserts and seafood recipes.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Most Famous Italian Liquors". February 4, 2020.
  2. ^ "REGULATION (EC) No 110/2008 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 15 January 2008 on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 1576/89". Official Journal of the European Union. European Union. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  3. ^ a b Rathbun, A.J. (2011). Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz: A Cocktail Lover's Guide to Mixing Drinks Using New and Classic Liqueurs. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 197. ISBN 978-1558326651. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
  4. ^ "Molinari Italia Spa - le Parole". Archived from the original on September 30, 2011. Retrieved March 23, 2008.
  5. ^ Gray, W. Blake (February 23, 2006). "Coffee drinks give 'I'm buzzed' a double meaning". San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
  6. ^ "Wine & Spirit". William Reed. 2008. Retrieved 2013-12-23. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ 1001 Foods To Die For. Andrews McMeel Publishing. Nov 1, 2007. p. 935. ISBN 978-0740770432. Retrieved 2013-12-23.