Sambuca: what is it, how is this aniseed liqueur made and which are the best
Sambuca is the Marche region’s official liqueur, made with alcohol flavored with essential oils of star anise, fennel, and flowers, as well as sugar and water.
It is a classic digestive. It goes perfectly with coffee, with which it shares many aromatic hints, but especially if well done, sambuca is a velvety, sweet, but never cloying, liqueur.
How Sambuca is Created
In terms of distillation, sambuca looks a lot like gin, except that instead of distilling the essential oils of juniper and the classic botanicals used for gin, they use star anise and herbs.
The concept is again straightforward. Alcohol is taken, and aniseed, herbs, flowers, or all the botanicals that are to be used to flavor the final liqueur are infused. Heat is then applied to the alcohol and flavoring mixture.
The heat evaporating the alcohol causes it to pass into a coil, which cools it and brings it back to a liquid state. But now alcohol brings with it new scents that come from all the ingredients that have been used. It has been enriched with terpenes, esters, and aldenes, all molecules corresponding to a perfume.
It is not magic, but it is a simple distillation, the same used to produce grappa with pomace, gin with juniper, vodka, whiskey, or perfume. Heat can trap the essential oils in the steam, and if you want to separate them, you can use centrifugation.
But in this case, let’s say we have a scented alcohol mass. At this point, the ethanol is diluted with water to find the right alcohol content, which is usually 40 degrees for sambuca, and then sugar is added. or other secret ingredients; it depends on the manufacturers.
How to use sambuca to make cocktails
But now, you may be wondering how to use this fantastic aniseed-flavored liqueur to make memorable drinks. Well, you are spoiled for choice. The sambuca is an incredible wildcard. You can use it to give sparkle to the Black Russian and to make cocktails with orange juice; it is excellent when combined with grappa and prune juice, but it must be carefully dosed. You will hardly use it as the main ingredient.
At most, you can make us an aperitif with soda and lemon zest. Or a sambuca tonic, although the arrogant and overbearing taste of sambuca is not easy to tame. The Slippery Nipple is one of the few known, but it is nothing special.We offer you a cocktail we made: the very fruity and velvety Sambuca Sling, which is not too demanding.
How to serve sambuca
But sambuca is also excellent served as a digestive, as a cordial, or perhaps in small glasses after coffee.
Why does sambuca turn white if you add water?
Have you ever tried adding water to sambuca or French pastis? That’s right, an opalescent layer forms on the surface, like a milky cloud. It comes from terpenes, substances created during distillation that are typically linked to alcohol. But if you add water, you dilute the ethanol, and it loses its ability to bind the terpene molecules that rise to the surface in the form of tiny drops.
The light then reflects on these drops and gives rise to the phenomenon of refraction of light. The aromatic spectrum of sambuca benefits from the addition of water not only visually but also because the terpenes, which are responsible for many perfumes containing aldenes and esters, release and release their aromas.
Who made the sambuca?
Luigi Manzi, in 1851, was the creator of the first bottle of “Sambuca Manzi.”
Flavors and scent of Sambuca
The smells are strong and pungent. They include spices, licorice, herbs, citrus fruits, a variety of flowers, and the earthy notes that are typical of anise.
The flavor is balanced between sweetness, bitter tones, and spicy hints of spice and pepper. The variety is discreet; it is never too redundant, boring, or mellow, but the taste profile is marked: if you don’t like anise, fennel, and licorice, it’s not the right liqueur for you.
average price of sambuca
Ten euros is the minimum price for mass-produced products such as Molinari. The sambuca Manzi of the founder costs 12–13 euros. The Tassoni sambuca, as well as the sambuca Poli and the Vernelli, are available in the 14–16 euro price range. Some bottles, such as sambuca Carlotto, cost 22 euros. We will update the Sambuca Manzi as soon as we find it, but for now, it is missing.
Alcohol content of sambuca
Sassolino: the last of the immortals
Finally, the Sassolino liqueur produced in the Modena area is not sambuca. It is similar but rougher and flavored with cumin, absinthe, and cinnamon.