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How To Drink Sambuca? Serving Sambucas Properly

How To Drink Sambuca? Serving Sambucas Properly

In the realm of Italian spirits, Sambuca stands as a leader, capturing the essence of centuries-old traditions and the warmth of shared moments. This anise-flavoured liqueur has a rich history and diverse variations.

In this guide, we go on a journey to explore the art of drinking Sambuca in all its forms. We’ll discuss the various ways to serve Sambuca and will unravel the mystery behind the question of “Why does Sambuca turn white?”. So before you buy Sambuca, dive into the best ways to appreciate this flavourful drink.

How to drink Sambuca

You can drink Sambuca in several different ways, depending on your personal preferences:

  1. Neat sipping
  2. Louche effect (ouzo effect)
  3. Flaming Sambuca
  4. Chilled
  5. In cocktails

Here’s how you can drink Sambuca in more detail.

Neat sipping

Drink neat Sambuca to appreciate its pure essence. Serve it in a tulip-shaped glass at room temperature. The traditional touch? Add three coffee beans, representing health, happiness, and prosperity, enhancing both the aroma and visual appeal of Sambuca. This way of drinking Sambuca is most appropriate for classic Sambucas, such as the Antica Classic Sambuca, as you’re able to appreciate the original taste of Sambuca.

Louche effect (ouzo effect)

The ouzo effect, also known as the louche effect, is the quality of a spirit to turn cloudy, milky, or opaque when it’s mixed with water.

To experience the ouzo effect when drinking Sambuca, add a bit of cold water to clear Sambuca. Watch as it turns cloudy, releasing hidden aromas and flavours. This transformation elevates the tasting experience, revealing intricate layers of anise and botanicals. Experience this way of drinking Sambuca by opting for original types or liquorice-flavoured products, like the Luxardo Dei Cesari Sambuca

Flaming Sambuca

Flaming Sambuca is the act of lighting a shot of Sambuca on fire and drinking the warm Sambuca. This method of savouring Sambuca looks dramatic and spectacular, so it’s great for parties and pubs. To enjoy a flaming Sambuca, pour it into a heat-resistant glass, ignite it, then extinguish it. The heat refines the flavours, creating a unique blend of caramelized sweetness and aniseed notes. The flaming sambuca is best enjoyed when you choose amaretto-flavoured Sambucas, like the Antica Amaretto Sambuca, as the taste compliments the flaming effect.


The opposite way of drinking flaming Sambuca is sipping it chilled. Store the liqueur in the freezer and serve it in chilled shot glasses. The cold enhances the anise essence, offering a refreshing twist. Any type of Sambuca can be experienced cooled, but we suggest to opt for Luxardo Maraschino Originale as its taste is the most elevated when served chilled.

In cocktails

You can enjoy Sambuca in various cocktails that unlock your creativity. From the classic Sambuca Espresso Martini to innovative mixes with fruits and herbs, the possibilities are endless. Experiment, balancing its bold flavour with complementary ingredients. Any type of Sambuca can be mixed in cocktails and there are many flavoured options on the market, too.

Popular Sambuca cocktails

Sambuca isn’t just a tasty sip; it’s also the star of fantastic cocktails that burst with flavours. Here are some well-liked Sambuca cocktails that you can make at home:

  1. Sambuca Espresso Martini
  2. Sambuca Sour
  3. Fruity Sambuca Delight

Sambuca Espresso Martini

A delightful blend of Sambuca, fresh espresso, and coffee liqueur, this cocktail offers a rich, aromatic experience.


  • Sambuca
  • fresh espresso
  • coffee liqueur

Instructions: Shake the ingredients with ice, strain, and garnish with coffee beans for a sophisticated touch.

Sambuca Sour

This zesty, tangy drink is perfect for those who love a citrusy twist.


  • Sambuca
  • lemon juice
  • syrup

Instructions: Mix Sambuca with freshly squeezed lemon juice and a bit of simple syrup. Shake it well with ice and strain it into a glass.

Fruity Sambuca Delight

This Sambuca cocktail is a refreshing and colorful drink for sunny days.


  • Sambuca
  • one or two types of fruit juice
  • soda water

Instructions: Combine Sambuca with your favorite fruit juices like orange or pineapple. Add a splash of soda water and ice. Stir gently and garnish with fruit slices.

How to serve Sambuca

When it comes to serving Sambuca, the right glassware and traditions transform a simple drink into a memorable experience.


Choosing the perfect glass enhances the Sambuca ritual. The traditional tulip-shaped glass is ideal, allowing the aromas to concentrate, creating a more immersive experience. Its narrow neck captures the fragrances, ensuring each sip is rich with the essence of anise and botanicals. The visual appeal of these glasses adds to the overall charm of the serving process of Sambuca, making it as visually delightful as it is flavourful.

Rituals and traditions

Serving Sambuca isn’t just a pour-and-drink affair; it’s a deep dive into cultural and regional traditions. In Italy, the addition of three coffee beans to Sambuca is a common ritual, symbolizing health, happiness, and prosperity. The act of setting Sambuca aflame and then extinguishing it is not just a spectacle but a ritual that enhances the flavour profile, making it smoother and more nuanced. These rituals passed down through generations, add a touch of authenticity to the Sambuca experience, connecting you to its rich heritage.

Why does Sambuca turn white?

The magical transformation of Sambuca from clear to cloudy, often referred to as the louche effect, or ouzo effect, is a mesmerizing phenomenon rooted in science and chemistry.

When water is added to clear Sambuca, a phenomenon occurs due to the essential oils and compounds present in the liqueur. Sambuca contains anethole, the essential oil responsible for its distinct aniseed flavour. Anethole is only soluble in alcohol, not in water. When water is introduced, the anethole comes out of the solution, forming tiny droplets. These droplets refract light, creating the milky, opaque appearance that characterizes the louche effect.

This unique chemistry not only adds to the visual allure but also enhances the aroma and taste, intensifying the aniseed experience.

Read more: What is Sambuca made from

You now know everything about how to drink Sambuca and how is Sambuca served for the best Sambuca tasting experience. So, whether you’re a seasoned Sambuca enthusiast or a curious newcomer, now you can enjoy this exquisite drink where every sip tells a tale of tradition, innovation, and the joy of shared moments.

Image credit:@ereiamjh

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