Our picks for the best sambucas
Sambuca is a typical liquor from Italy, specifically from the Lazio area, and its name comes from the elderberry, a bush used in ancient times to flavor liquor. It is a sweet and strong drink that must be made with anise, either green or star. Other aromatic herbs can also be used in its preparation. Traditionally, it is flambéed, with coffee beans inside to release the flavor. In this article we will make a comparison of the best sambucas on the market so that you can choose the one you like the most.
1. RamazZotti Sambuca Liqueur
When looking for the best sambuca, it is important to choose products that follow the tradition of this drink. Something that we find in this Ramaz proposal, from Italy and with everything you need to taste its particular flavor.
As usual, the drink has the flavor of anise from the base of this liqueur and also from the ingredients with which it is made, to which Sertnanis aromas and a diverse selection of herbs are added. The result is a drink with a full-bodied flavor and considerable freshness on the palate.
Its alcoholic strength is the usual one, 38 degrees, so the sensations are as expected. Something that makes it ideal to consume this liquor alone or use it to make all kinds of mixes and cocktails, as you prefer.
2. Luxardo Liqueur sambuca 38 ° 70 CL
If you want to give your dinner or celebration a special and distinguished touch, the Luxardo sambuca will surprise and delight your guests. This is the best sambuca to be flambéed in a glass, with a couple of coffee beans, as it was traditionally served in Rome after meals.
Luxardo prepares the “Dei Cesari” sambuca, that is, the one drank by the Caesars, which is obtained by distilling star anise, infused with aromatic herbs from the Lazio area. It has the traditional transparent color and its characteristic aroma of anise, on the palate it is sweet and balanced.
Luxardo sambuca can be enjoyed after meals or in the evening with friends, either neat, on the rocks, or flambéed with coffee beans to bring out the flavor. It can also be served very cold, to enjoy its flavors, or at room temperature.
3. Molinari Sambuca Extra 1L
The Molinari sambuca was created for the first time in 1945 by the master Angelo Molinari, today it is one of the most famous liqueurs in all of Italy, so we could say that this is one of the best sambucas of 2022.
For its preparation, the best star anise grains are selected, which are distilled to extract their essential oils. The mixture that gives it its characteristic flavor is kept secret in the cellars, but it is known that anise is complemented with some natural sweetener and a combination of aromatic herbs from the area and spices, which are diluted in pure alcohol with sugar to achieve a more balanced flavor than cheaper sambucas.
The result is a very clear drink, almost bright, with a very fine and pleasant anise aroma. On the palate it is sweet and powerful, fresh thanks to the incredible floral and herbal touches, which can be enjoyed neat, with ice or in the traditional style; flambéed with a couple of coffee beans.
4. Antica Sambuca Apple Flavor 70 C L
Antica is the only brand in the world that can boast of making sambucas with different aromas and flavors, such as mandarins from southern Italy, oranges from Sicily or apples from Trentino Alto Adige. This apple-flavored sambuca has a unique character and an exceptional flavor, which makes it the answer to all those who wonder what sambuca to buy to surprise a friend.
At sight, it has a characteristic intense green color of apples and on the palate it is very balanced, with the typical sweetness of anise and a fair touch of acidity from the apples. In the glass it is aromatic, with the smell of fresh fruit.
It is a perfect sambuca for afternoons or evenings, since it can be taken neat or with ice, as well as in cocktails, since it does not have that usual sweetness in aniseed drinks.
5. Vecchia Sarandrea sambuca with Rum 70 CL
Vecchia Sarandrea sambuca has a unique personality. The simple sight of its characteristic bottle already tells us that we are facing a very special liqueur, which mixes the best of the old world with the new, since it unites traditional Roman sambuca with Caribbean rum, to offer a unique liqueur.
This could be the best sambuca of the moment if you like bold flavors. In this case, the base liqueur is made with black elderberry flowers and anise, which are mixed with rum, to offer a synergy of aromas and flavors that will surprise and make you fall in love.
It is a perfect liqueur to drink at night, after a dinner with friends, either alone or with ice, as well as in mixed drinks. However, for maximum flavor it is recommended to enjoy it with a bar of dark chocolate or sweet cakes.
6. Vecchia Sarandrea Sambuca Liqueur 75 CL
The Vecchia Sarandrea brand sambuca is one of the few with the “vecchia” certification, that is, old, since it is made following the old certosine formula, which doses each element of the liquor in a traditional way. Vechhia Sarandrea might be the best brand of sambucas as it is the official supplier to the Vatican.
The liqueur is distilled from elderflowers, along with a secret infusion of flowers, spices and anise grains. All this mixed with high quality pure alcohol, water from the Ernici springs and natural sugars. The result is a pleasant and aromatic liquor, whose flavor is distributed on the palate and tongue, in a long and stable way.
This liqueur can be enjoyed neat or on the rocks, although it is much better to do it the traditional way, flambéing it with a couple of coffee beans.
7. Romana Sambuca Liquore Extra 40%
With a long finish and the warmth expected from a 40-proof liqueur, Romana Sambuca is a complex Italian product, the formula of which only a few know. However, we can say that it is a special mixture of natural aromatic essences, elderberry and, of course, anise.
As for the way it is manufactured, the brand has adhered to the processes that have characterized this drink for many years, so when you taste it, you can perceive the notes and experiences that have made it one of the sambucas favourites.
In relation to its presentation, it comes in a transparent bottle, which allows you to see the drink inside and highlights the large blue label that characterizes the brand. If you decide to choose this product for your next purchase, do not forget to serve it with its traditional coffee beans.
8. Colazingari sambuca Fine 70 CL
The original recipe for Sambuca Fina de Colazingari is lost in the mists of time, as this is the oldest product of the Antica Fabbrica Liquori Colazingari cellars, which is centuries old.
It is made following ancient methods, which have been adapted to new technologies, to improve the original secret recipe. The ingredients, star anise and the unique mix of herbs, flowers and spices from the area, rest 12 hours after each step of the production process, at the end it is filtered twice before bottling.
The result is a golden liquid, with amber reflections and an intense aroma of anise. On the palate it is sweet but dry, with a long and pleasant persistence.
9. Berta sambuca Dianisè 70 CL
Dianisé sambuca is one of the most exclusive liqueurs you can find. From the bottle, which is shaped like an Art Deco-style perfume bottle, everything exudes elegance. The recipe for this liqueur is the original one, used in the 1950s by Paolo Berta, founder of the distillery.
Made with elderflowers, anise and an infusion based on aromatic herbs and spices, the result is a full-bodied, transparent liqueur with a complex and broad aroma, enveloping and with personality. In the mouth, it has a very rich flavor, sweet and at the same time dry.
It is a perfect drink for an elegant dinner, as it can be taken neat, with ice or even as part of a cocktail, especially with other citrus flavors.
10. Itaca Mini sambuca chest 5×40 ML
In this box, perfect to give to a lover of this liquor, you will find 5 bottles of 40 ml of some of the best Italian liquors. This could be the best value for money sambuca, since for little money you get 5 bottles of different colors: black, red, white, yellow and blue curaçao.
Itaca sambuca is made by the Antonio Nadal distilleries in Spain, the only ones that produce this liquor in our country. The sambucas in the chest are made with a selection of herbs and spices from the Balearic Islands, together with a selection of the best star anise and green anise grains, which give them a unique flavour.
Each bottle has a color, so they are a perfect gift for lovers of this drink, since they can be displayed in their bar cabinet. They are ideal for dinners with friends, since they can be eaten alone, with ice or as part of a mixed drink.
Origin and Use
After our comparison of sambucas, in which we have shown you and analyzed the best on the market, we will explain some important details about this drink, such as its history, the best way to preserve it, its nutritional value or the best mixes you can make with her.
For some, the origin of this dates back to the Caesars, while for others it is a drink that came from the East in the 17th century, but none seem to agree. It is known that it is a typical liqueur from the Italian Lazio area, right in the heart of the ancient Roman Empire. One of the most popular meanings is that the name sambuca comes from “sambuco”, as a derivative of elderberry (sambucus nigra), since originally it was a liquor flavored with elderberry.
However, today very few brands of sambuca use elderberry in their formulation, so there is another variant that states that the name comes from “zambur”, a sweet liquor of Arab origin that arrived in Sicily during the Islamic invasions of the middle ages.
Of the two stories, that of the elderberry is the most accepted, since this typical shrub of the Mediterranean area has small, black fruits, similar to coffee. These fruits have medicinal properties that relieve the pain caused by rheumatism, so it is very possible that, in ancient times, this liqueur was drunk flambéed, as it is today, but replacing the coffee beans with the fruits of the elderberry.
Today, most sambuca houses have swapped elderflowers for anise. In fact, to be certified “sambuca” the drink must contain anise, but it does not have to contain elderberry, despite its name. Anise was replacing elderflowers as the main ingredient from the seventeenth century when star anise came to the West from China.
The Molinari family, one of the main producers of sambuca in the world, has a different story about the origin of the name of this liquor. According to them, the name was given by Luigi Manzi, a personal friend of Garibaldi, in the 19th century and comes from the sambuchelli, sellers of spiced water in the Ischia area. These vendors took their name from a type of boat, the sambuco, which was used for river transport of spices.
Sambuca is a traditional drink and its preparation is almost an art. Only a few “families” have the certification for its production. Thus, for example, the Colazingari winery has had the name of “Official Suppliers of the Vatican State” since the 1960s, which was granted by Pope John XXIII after having tasted the sambuca that they have been producing for centuries.
The recipes of each of these families are unique and are jealously guarded. Only one member of the family in each generation has the formula for the recipe, which is guarded more closely than that of Coca-Cola.
We continue with our guide to buying the best sambuca talking about the mixes and cocktails that can be made with it. Although our first stop will be to explain how it can be drunk, since everything in sambuca has its touch of tradition, even the way of drinking it.
A good, inexpensive sambuca can be enjoyed nicely on its own or neat. Simply in a small glass, to accompany coffee or with “mosca”, with two coffee beans that, when bitten, enhance the flavor of the drink. It can also be accompanied with ice, since when it cools its flavors are enhanced.
For very hot days it can be taken mixed with cold water, in this way it takes on a thick white color and is very refreshing, it is even ideal to accompany fish and shellfish dishes. For very cold days, it can be mixed with coffee, as it balances the bitter taste of the coffee and, thanks to the anise, aromatizes and combines very well.
Now we come to the traditional way of drinking it, flambéed. To do this, just take a tall glass, light the sambuca with a lighter or a match, cover the glass with your hand and shake it a little while keeping the glass glued to the palm of your hand. When the fire goes out, remove your hand and enjoy its intense aroma, then drink it all in one gulp. To this preparation, 7 coffee beans are added, which represent the 7 hills of Rome.
Once opened, sambuca can last perfectly for a couple of years in optimal flavor and aroma conditions, as long as you close the bottle well, preventing the entry of air and keep it upright, in a space with a stable temperature and away from from direct sunlight.
To store sambuca for a long time, you must first make sure you buy a quality bottle, this, of course, will influence how much it costs, but it will guarantee that you will be able to store it for many years, as long as you comply with the indications that we have offered in the previous paragraph.
For a 100 ml serving, sambuca contains 333 kcal, 7 g of carbohydrates and 0% fat and protein.
Sambuca is a liquor with an alcohol content between 35 and 40%, so you should not drive after drinking. You should not consume sambuca if you are under the age of 18, and you should always consume it in moderation.