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.
The Oxford English Dictionary states that the term comes from the Latin word sambucus, meaning "elderberry".
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.
Having both originated as anise based spirits containing elderberry, Sambuca shared some commonality with the Basque drink Patxaran.
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