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Sambuca Inferno Ice, Sambuca Gold,

Sambuca Black.
Sambuca is an Italianmarker anise-flavoured, usually colourless liqueur. Its most common variety is often referred to as white sambuca to differentiate it from other varieties that are deep blue in colour (black sambuca) or bright red (red sambuca).


Sambuca contains essential oils obtained from star anise, Illicium verum, which give the liquor a strong anise flavour. The oils are added to pure alcohol, a concentrated solution of sugar, and other flavouring. It is commonly bottled at 42% alcohol by volume (84 proof).


The Molinari company states that the name Sambuca comes from an Arabic word: Zammut. This was the name of an anise-flavoured drink that arrived to the port of Civitavecchiamarker by ships coming from the East. The Oxford English Dictionary states, however, that the term comes from the Latin word sambūc-us, meaning "elderberry".it could have come from the Indian name for fennel, sounf or soambu, where it is a regular ingredient in cooking.

A "Sambuq" is a type of Arabic ship which may originally have been used to import the drink and may have given it its name.

The Italian word Sambuca was first used as the name of another anise-based liquor that was created in Civitavecchia about 130 years ago.

The first commercial version of such a drink started at the end of 1800 in Civitavecchia thanks to Luigi Manzi that started selling Sambuca Manzi, that is still produced today. In 1945, soon after the end of Second World War, commendatore Angelo Molinari started producing Sambuca Extra Molinari, that helped the diffusion of Sambuca all over Italy.



Sambuca can be served neat, as Ammazzacaffè or just as refreshment.

On the rocks

Sambuca can be served with ice, optionally adding some coffee beans as ornament. The ice enhances the flavours and changes the colour of the drink from transparent to dense white.

With toasted coffee beans

In Italy it is common to serve neat Sambuca with some floating coffee beans dropped on it: it is called Sambuca con la mosca (literally, "Sambuca with flies"). The beans are there as an ornament, but they can be chewed to increase the taste of anise. It is usually served in restaurants with 3 coffee beans and is said that the beans represent: health, happiness, and prosperity.

In coffee

Sambuca can be added to coffee as a sweetener instead of sugar. The mixed drink in Italian is called Caffè corretto (literally, "corrected coffee"), though more commonly caffè corretto refers to grappa and coffee.

With water

Sambuca can be served adding fresh water, becoming a refreshing less alcoholic drink.

With cola

Although uncommon, Sambuca can be served with cola to make a refreshing long drink. Much like with Ouzo, mixing Sambuca with cola creates a cloudy brown drink due to the Ouzo effect.

Flaming Sambuca

Sambuca may be served in a shot glass and then set on fire for a second or two, in order to increase its flavour.

Another alternative is to catch the fumes in a snifter, and then drink the heated shot, after which the fumes are sucked up from the snifter through a straw, this method is similar to the controversially named Sambuca Gas Chamber, where a measure of Sambuca is poured into a low but wide glass, it is then set on fire using a long match, then it is left to burn for no more than 3 seconds before it is extinguished, the Sambuca is drunk, the glass is turned upside down and tilted upwards so the fumes can be enjoyed through a straw.

Stature of Liberty

An alternative to the Flaming sambuca.

With a shot of Sambuca held in the left hand, dip the right thumb into the Sambuca and hold it aloft while a friend sets the Sambuca-soaked thumb alight (with a match, not a lighter - it's safer). Drink the Sambuca in the glass before blowing out the lit thumb and extinguishing the flame by popping the right thumb in your mouth.

Flaming Lamborghini

1 oz Sambuca,1 oz Kahlua® coffee liqueur,1 oz Blue Curacao liqueur,1 oz Bailey's® Irish cream

Pour the Sambuca and Kahlua into a cocktail glass. Pour the baileys and blue curacao into two separate shot glasses either side of the cocktail glass. Light the concoction in the cocktail glass and start to drink through a straw, (this drink should be drunk in one). As the bottom of the glass is reached, put out the fire by pouring the baileys and blue curacao into the cocktail glass and keep drinking till it's all gone. [5070]

See also


  1. Traditional guide to Sambuca
  2. The origins of Sambuca Molinari
  3. Flaming Sambuca

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