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Maybe you already know this Italian sweet liqueur, maybe you don’t. But last Saturday when we had friends over and drank this really good liqueur after dinner, it came to my mind that it would be nice to present it to you all.

SAMBUCA is an anise-flavoured liqueur, bottled at 42% alcohol by volume. It consists of star-anise, anise, liquorice and other spices. The most known Sambuca is theΒ Sambuca extra Molinari which is colourless and therefore referred to as “white Sambuca”. In 1945, right after World War II, Angelo Molinari started producing the Sambuca Extra Molinari and made sure it became popular in Italy and abroad.

However, the first commercial version of the Sambuca started at the end of 1800 in Civitavecchia, a small town close to Rome. Here Luigi Manzi started selling the Sambuca Manzi.

Up to today it has never been confirmed where the name Sambuca comes from. The Molinari company says that it comes from the arabic word Zammut. This was the name of an anise-flavoured drink that was shipped from the East to the port of Civitavecchia. The Oxford English Dictionary states that it comes from the Latin word Sambucus which means “elderberry”. Yet others say that it might come from the name Sambuq which was the name of an Arabic ship that might have been used to import the drink.

In Italy people normally drink it after lunch or dinner when they have drunk their coffee (caffΓ¨). Traditionally Sambuca is served with 3 coffee beans in the glass. They represent health, wealth and happiness. Unfortunately we didn’t have any coffee beans, so no traditional serving at our place…

20 thoughts on “SWEET SAMBUCA”

  1. I’ve always loved Sambuca, but didn’t really know it’s history. Your post was so interesting. I have friends here in CA who are from Rome and we have Grappa with coffee after dinner at their house (always good)!

  2. Black Sambuca is popular here for drinking as shots and white Sambuca is often mixed with Baileys liqueur to make a drink known as the Slippery Nipple. I have to confess that I’m not fond of anything aniseed flavoured but I love the history and the tradition that comes with drinks such as Sambuca.

  3. Are they supposed to be sipped? or drank like shots? In North America, most do it as shots but I believe the proper way to drink it is by sipping it and enjoying it, right?

    1. Exactly! Sipping and enjoying πŸ™‚ However they sometimes also set it on fire and then (after you put your hand over it) you drink it like a shot… But that is more seen in bars at night….not after dinner after you had your coffee πŸ˜‰

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