Sambuca Liqueur


An Italian anise-flavored liqueur. Sambuca contains essential oils from star anise and contains 42%% alcohol. It is usually served neat or on the rocks, topped with a few coffee beans (said to represent health, happiness, and prosperity). Sambuca may also be added to coffee or served in a shot glass and set on fire for a moment or two to increase its flavor.


Translations: Sambuca Liķieris, Sambuca Likeris, Sambuca Lichioruri, Liker Sambuca, Sambuca Likier, Sambuca Likeur, Sambuca लिकर, Licor Sambuca, Самбука Ликер, Sambuca λικέρ, Sambuca المشروب الكحولي, Sambuca 리큐어, Sambuca Likéry, Sambuca Likeur, Sambuca likor, 桑布卡露酒, Sambuca Licor, Sambuca Liker, Sambuca Likéry, Sambuca Liquore, ליקר סמבוקה, Sambuca Likör, Самбуца Ликер, サンブーカリキュール, Sambuca liqueur, Sambuca Likör, Sambuca Likør, Sambuca likør, Sambuca Licor, Самбука Лікер, Sambuca Likööri, Sambuca Ликьорни

Physical Description

Sambuca liqueur is most commonly a clear, colorless liqueur, though is sometimes referred to as "white sambuca" to differentiate it from black sambuca, which comes in a deep blue color, and red sambuca, which is a bright red in color. Several manufacturers have developed green, gold, and pale blue varieties of sambuca under their brand names. Due to the use of essential oils in its production, sambuca has a strong anise flavor and scent.

Colors: Clear and colorless, though deep blue and red varieties are common, green and gold varieties are available.

Tasting Notes

Flavors: Anise, licorice, white elder flower, sweet, pungent
Mouthfeel: Smooth, Warm, Syrupy
Food complements: Chocolate, Fruit desserts, Strongly-flavored cheeses.
Wine complements: Sparkling wine
Beverage complements: Coffee
Substitutes: Ouzo, Pastis, Pernod, Anisette, Galliano

Selecting and Buying

Seasonality: january, february, march, april, may, june, july, august, september, opctober, november, december
Peak: january, february, march, april, may, june, july, august, september, opctober, november, december
Choosing: Sambuca liqueur was originally created in Italy, which is where the best varieties of sambuca can still be found. Look for imported brands, such as Sambuca Molinari, which is regarded as among the best. Take into consideration how the sambuca will be used when choosing the particular variety. Colored sambucas are good for showy drinks, though white sambuca is best for general uses, including cooking.
Buying: Sambuca liqueur is typically only found in liquor stores due to its high alcohol content and is unlikely to be found in most general grocery stores. It may also be purchased online through certain online store fronts, which can provide access to additional imported brands.

Preparation and Use

Most often served neat as an aperitif, sambuca is also used in a variety of mixed drinks and can be served over rocks with a couple of coffee beans as a traditional garnish. Other drinks sambuca can be mixed into include coffee, cola, or water for a weakened alcoholic impact. Sambuca may also be used as a flavoring in desserts, including cakes, fruit compotes, and ice creams.

Conserving and Storing

Like most liqueurs, sambuca can be stored without refrigeration provided it is in a cool, dark place and is kept tightly closed. It will keep indefinitely. Avoid lengthy exposure to any heat or sunlight, which may speed the evaporation of its alcohol and create possible discoloration.


History: While the origin of sambuca's name has varied theories, suggesting roots in Latin, Arabic, or Indian, sambuca itself certainly hails from Italy. The first anise-flavored liqueur bearing the name "sambuca" was created in Civitavecchia nearly a century and a half ago. However, a commercial version of the liqueur was not produced until the end of the 19th century out of Civitavecchia under the label Sambuca Manzi, which is still being produced today. Only after 1945 with the production of Sambuca Extra Molinari did the drink gain widespread popularity throughout Italy, which gave it the exposure to become a world renowned variety of liqueur.


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sally steinke's picture

I am truly impressed with your advice! Truly appreciative! I love to cook! we have run into some hardships lately, once again I love to cook! I found a Ltr. of Sambuca and a 1lb. of cow hamburger(special interest) The ltr was well preserved. long story short, I fried the hamburger slooow, salt/pepper until brown then drained off excess fat. Turned up the heat and applied Sambuca, What a great combination! can't wait to apply it to the next steps!