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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 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. The oils are added to pure alcohol, a concentrated solution of sugar, and other flavouring.
Luigi Manzi, the first to produce sambuca, said that he had chosen that name in memory of the "sambuchelli", or the "acquaioli" ( water and anis sellers) of his native Ischia The first commercial version of such a drink in 1861, Luigi Manzi sold it as 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.
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. The shot may be ignited to toast the coffee beans with the flame extinguished immediately before drinking.
- Traditional guide to Sambuca
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- The origins of Sambuca Molinari Archived September 30, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
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