7 Sambuca Brands Full Of Italian Flair


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Ah, Sambuca, that iconic Italian liqueur with its ultra-distinctive anise liquorice kick that does not always need to be set on fire! The best Sambuca brands are more than just a flaming shot, thanks to various fragrant herbs and subtle spices added to each blend.

Much like Ouzo, it can be tricky to distinguish a good Sambuca from a great one, as secret ingredients and traditional production processes can contribute so much to this Italian liqueur’s unique flavour.

Best Sambuca Brands

Packed with anise and an array of herbs and spices, here are 7 of the best Sambuca brands every liquorice lover should get acquainted with.

1. Ramazzotti Sambuca

Ramazzotti Sambuca
Credit: Ramazzotti

Overview

  • Distiller: Casa Ramazzotti
  • ABV: 38% (76 Proof)
  • Country: Italy
  • Colour: Clear

Review

In the 1960s, Ramazzotti decided to expand its product portfolio and created Ramazzotti Sambuca, a heavenly Italian Sambuca with a sweet note profile.

Ramazzotti Sambuca’s classic Italian flavours come from star anise, fennel seeds, cloves, spicy coriander, and Sri Lankan cinnamon. These flavoursome ingredients are added to a clear spirit alcohol base and redistilled for the perfect Sambuca.

On The Nose

Delightful mellow aromas of anise and hints of clove and coriander.

On The Palate

A pleasantly sweet opening of liquorice, mild spices mid-palate, and a sweet finish with a strong alcohol kick.

Best Served

Ramazzotti Sambuca is best served neat over 4-5 ice blocks topped with 3 coffee beans or as a Sambuca Mule cocktail.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

2. Molinari Sambuca Extra

Molinari Sambuca Extra
Credit: Molinari

Overview

  • Distiller: Molinari
  • ABV: 40% (80 Proof)
  • Country: Italy
  • Colour: Clear

Review

An expert perfumer and blending specialist, Angelo Molinari experimented with star anise in his liquors in 1945, creating the unmistakable taste of Molinari Sambuca Extra.

Although the exact recipe is a secret, Molinari is the only producer that may call their Sambuca “Extra,” which is a sign of the highest quality.

The main ingredient for Molinari Sambuca is, of course, anise, and the anise seeds are distilled with a clear spirit to extract all the essential oils. This infused spirit is mixed with sugar syrup, herbs, and spices.

On The Nose

Soft black liquorice aroma with subtle touches of garden herbs.

On The Palate

Smooth on the palate with a distinct anise flavour and a lovely sweetness mid-palate. The finish is smooth and gently spiced.

Best Served

Aside from enjoying neat, Molinari Sambuca Extra can also be served with soda water, lime, and a crushed mint leaf. Add to a Margarita for an updated classic.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

3. Lazzaroni Blue Label Sambuca

Lazzaroni Blue Label Sambuca
Credit: Lazzaroni

Overview

  • Distiller: Paolo Lazzaroni and Figli S.P.A
  • ABV: 38% (76 Proof)
  • Country: Italy
  • Colour: Clear

Review

The original recipe for Lazzaroni Sambuca dates back to the 1800s when the bottle carried the name of Anisette. Anisette is a thick, sweet, smooth, and oily liqueur produced in the Mediterranean.

Lazzaroni Blue Label Sambuca is made from distilled molasses containing European beet sugar, star anise, fennel, elderberries, and traditional herb. The distilled spirit is watered down and filtered as per an age-old recipe.

On The Nose

A vibrant combination of herbs and anise liquorice aromas.

On The Palate

Initially smooth with a strong liquorice kick. Mid-palate becomes sweeter with hints of herbs and berries, leading to a crisp finish with a cheeky alcohol kick.

Best Served

Lazzaroni Blue Label Sambuca is best served neat with a fly (3 coffee beans). Add a shot of Amaretto for a real treat of anise and cherry-almond flavours.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

4. Romana Sambuca

Romana Sambuca
Credit: Romana

Overview

  • Distiller: Romana Sambuca
  • ABV: 38% (76 Proof)
  • Country: Italy
  • Colour: Clear

Review

Romana Sambuca is the No: 1 selling Sambuca in The United States. This Italian Sambuca received the ultimate recommendation award for an extraordinary spirit at the 2020 Ultimate Spirit Awards, with a score of 95/100.

Romana Sambuca is made with a clear spirit infused with elderflower and anise. It is sweetened with sugar and enhanced with a secret blend of botanicals and spices.

On The Nose

Earthy liquorice on the nose with sweet floral tones.

On The Palate

A sweet, rich, and smooth anise flavour on the opening, becoming sweeter mid-palate. The finish is sweet, gently spiced and lingers nicely in the back of the throat.

Best Served

Romana Sambuca is best enjoyed in an anise version of a White Russian cocktail. If you’re after something with a little kick, try it in a Spiced Iced Latte.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

5. Luxardo Sambuca Dei Cesari

Luxardo Sambuca Dei Cesari
Credit: Luxardo

Overview

  • Distiller: Luxardo
  • ABV: 38% (76 Proof)
  • Country: Italy
  • Colour: Clear

Review

The Luxardo Distillery is among the oldest European liqueur distilleries and is proud to hang on to seven generations of tradition.

From the traditional copper pot still and ageing vats to the beautiful Maracas cherry orchids surrounding the distillery, Luxardo is the Girolamo family’s legacy.

Made from the original recipe, Luxardo Sambuca Dei Cesari Liqueur is made with local herbs, green Sicilian star anise, sugar, and spirit alcohol. The distilled spirit is poured into Finnish wood vats and left to mature till it is just right.

On The Nose

Slight black pepper and coriander on the nose with a strong liquorice backdrop much like a Greek ouzo.

On The Palate

Slightly thick and syrupy on the tongue with an abundance of sweet anise liquorice flavour and mixed herbs emerging later. A perfectly balanced Sambuca with a sweet yet feisty finish.

Best Served

Keep it simple….Luxardo Sambuca Dei Cesari Liqueur is excellent neat or over ice. You could also try adding it to a Sambuca vanilla milkshake!

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

6. Antica Sambuca Classic

Antica Sambuca Classic
Credit: Antica

Overview

  • Distiller: Rossi d’Asiago
  • ABV: 38% (76 Proof)
  • Country: Italy
  • Colour: Clear

Review

Produced by Rossi d’Asiago in a valley between the Dolomite Mountains and the iconic city of Venice. Antica Sambuca distinguishes itself from other Sambucas with its intense aromas and smooth flavours.

This Italian Sambuca won its first award in 1904 and has regularly added accolades to its name.

Antica Sambuca Classic Liqueur is made from star anise distillate, orange, iris, and Turkish rose, then sweetened with pure white sugar and blended with clear spirit.

On The Nose

Pure natural anise on the nose with a gently peppery undertone and hints of floral notes.

On The Palate

Sweet, rich, and strong liquorice on the opening with a smooth texture. Mid plate brings more sweetness and delicate hints of zesty orange, and the finish retains the initial liquorice sweetness.

Best Served

Antica Sambuca Classic Liqueur can be enjoyed neat, over ice, or paired with a coffee liqueur.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

7. Meletti Sambuca

Meletti Sambuca
Credit: Meletti

Overview

  • Distiller: Silvio Meletti
  • ABV: 38% (76 Proof)
  • Country: Italy
  • Colour: Clear

Review

Company founder Silvio Meletti’s mother made a traditional anise distillate to sell in her general store in Ascoli, Italy. Silvio learned his mother’s technique, combined it with what he had studied in an old French distiller guide, and created the first bottle of Meletti Sambuca in 1870.

Meletti Sambuca is based on a traditional homemade anise distillate that uses green anise essential oil combined with local herbs, elderflower, and liquorice. Sugar is added to the distillate to create a syrup concentrate added to pure grain alcohol.

On The Nose

A strong anise/liquorice on the nose with delicate floral notes and a little burnt sugar.

On The Palate

Smooth liquorice upfront with a contrasting pepper bite and burnt-sugar sweetness in the middle. A nice liquorice alcohol kick on the finish.

Best Served

Meletti Sambuca is best served neat. Also, try over ice with orange juice and a dash of lime or as a tasty Sambuca Café ole’.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

Seperator

Ingrid’s Top Pick

best Sambuca

Luxardo Sambuca Dei Cesari

My top pick is Luxardo Sambuca Dei Cesari as this Sambuca gives plenty of sweet anise liquorice flavours and fragrant herbs.

This well-balanced Sambuca gives a sweet finish with a nice kick. Works well as a shot, a sipper, or as a boost to any cocktail.

Expert Mixologist Tip

We reached out to Lisa Belczyk, founder of cocktail experience and private events company The Fizzy Coupe, to share her thoughts on anise-based spirits such as Sambuca.

The Fizzy Coupe cocktail
anise

Anise-Based Spirits

Anise: people tend to love or hate it, and my bar guests are often surprised when they learn that many countries and cultures have a spirit similar to Sambuca, with a polarising liquorice flavour.

Italy, Lebanon, Columbia, Greece, France, Spain, Turkey, Hungary, and more, all have an anise-based spirit. Which have you tried?

Lisa Belczyk - The Fizzy Coupe

Lisa Belczyk – The Fizzy Coupe

Sambuca Q&A

flaming sambuca

What Is Sambuca?

Sambuca is a traditional Italian anise-flavoured clear liqueur that tastes of liquorice. Sambuca will have an “ouzo” effect when mixed with water, and this effect will turn the clear Sambuca and water mix milky.

What Does Sambuca Taste Like?

Sambuca is a traditional Italian anise-flavoured clear liqueur served in a shot glass and has the unmistakable taste of liquorice.

How Do You Drink Sambuca?

Sambuca is traditionally it is enjoyed as a shot with three coffee beans floating on top to signify prosperity, good health, and happiness. You can also enjoy sambuca over ice, with water, or in cocktails, as it pairs great with other spirits.

What Is Sambuca Good To Mix With?

Sambuca becomes a refreshing drink when mixed with soda water, tonic water, or orange juice. Sambuca pairs well with coffee and can be served hot or cold. It is divine when added to a milkshake or Mocha Frappe.

How To Drink A Flaming Sambuca

Using a match or lighter, light the Sambuca in a shot glass and let it burn for a few seconds. Then quickly cover the glass with an upturned mug or small cocktail shaker to fully estinguish the flame. Now down the unlit shot!

Conclusion

Sambuca is a traditional Italian liqueur made from star anise and other secret botanicals. The best Sambuca brands can be enjoyed as a shot, in a cocktail, or as a delightful after-dinner sipper.

However you prefer your Sambuca, remember to give a toast to its legacy by enjoying a shot with three coffee beans…. and if you are trying a Flaming Sambuca for the first time, mind your eyebrows!

Further Reading

Below are some additional articles from The Drinks Geek blog. We write articles on several fascinating areas of drinks, including different brands, drink types, cocktail recipes and more.

Author Bio

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