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Sambuca (Italian pronunciation: [samˈbuːka]) is an Italian 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). Like other anise-flavoured liqueurs, the ouzo effect is sometimes observed when combined with water.
Sambuca is flavoured with essential oils obtained from anise, star anise, liquorice and other spices. It also contains elderflowers. The oils are added to pure alcohol, a concentrated solution of sugar, and other flavouring. It is commonly bottled at 42% alcohol by volume.
The Greek word Sambuca was first used as the name of another elderberry 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, where Luigi Manzi sold Sambuca Manzi. In 1945, soon after the end of Second World War, commendatore Angelo Molinari started producing Sambuca Extra Molinari, which helped popularise Sambuca throughout Italy.
Sambuca is considered to go particularly well with coffee. Like other anise liqueurs, it may be drunk after coffee as a ammazzacaffè or added directly to coffee in place of sugar to produce a caffè corretto.
The most iconic serving of sambuca is 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. When served with three coffee beans, each is said to represent health, happiness and prosperity; or the Holy Trinity. The shot may be ignited to toast the coffee beans with the flame extinguished immediately before drinking.
- Traditional guide to Sambuca
- 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 1558326650. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
- The origins of Sambuca Molinari Archived September 30, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- Gray, W. Blake (February 23, 2006). "Coffee drinks give 'I'm buzzed' a double meaning". San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco). Retrieved 2013-12-23.
- "Wine & Spirit". William Reed. 2008. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
- 1001 Foods To Die For. Andrews McMeel Publishing. Nov 1, 2007. ISBN 0740770438. Retrieved 2013-12-23.