Sambuca Drink Recipes

Karen Frazier
sambuca con la mosca

Many people wonder how to drink sambuca, the sweet anise-flavored Italian liqueur. You can make sambuca cocktails, use interesting mixers to complement the licorice flavor profile, use it in place of simple syrup as the sweet element in sours and fizzes, or enjoy it neat or with a splash of water.

1. Sambuca con la Mosca

The most basic and classic of sambuca preparations, sambuca con la mosca, is an Italian tradition, and it couldn't be easier to prepare. The three toasted coffee beans in the sambuca represent health, prosperity, and happiness, a wonderful sentiment and the perfect way to enjoy sambuca.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces sambuca
  • 3 toasted coffee beans

Instructions

  1. Pour the sambuca in a shot glass.
  2. Add the three coffee beans.

Variation

Feeling brave? Ignite the sambuca and extinguish just before you serve it. Tie your hair back before you do and make sure you aren't wearing draped or loose clothing that could get caught in the flame.

2. Raspberry-Basil Sambuca Martini

Using fresh fruit, gin, and sambuca, this tasty cocktail is a delicious, aromatic sweet and sour martini. The recipe makes two martinis.

Sambucca gin martini

Ingredients

  • 10 raspberries, plus extra for garnish
  • 4 basil leaves
  • ¾ freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¾ ounce sambuca
  • ¾ ounce London dry gin
  • Ice

Instructions

  1. Chill a cocktail glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the raspberries and basil leaves.
  3. Add the lime juice, orange juice, gin, sambuca, and ice. Shake until the cocktail is blended and cold.
  4. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a raspberry.

3. Sambuca Citrus Martini

This citrus martini is crisp and refreshing, with a splash of licorice flavor.

Sambuca Citrus Martini

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon wedge
  • Superfine sugar
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce sambuca
  • 1½ ounces citrus vodka, such as Absolut citron
  • Ice
  • Lemon twist for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a cocktail glass.
  2. Run the lemon wedge around the rim of two martini glasses.
  3. Spread the sugar in an even layer on a plate. Dip the martini glass rims into the sugar to rim the glass with sugar.
  4. In a cocktail shaker, combine the vodka, sambuca, lemon juice, and ice. Shake until the cocktail is blended and cold.
  5. Strain into the prepared martini glasses. Garnish with the lemon slices.

4. Sambuca Vesper

James Bond fans likely recognize the name "Vesper martini" as 007's martini of choice - "shaken, not stirred." A traditional vesper is made with gin, vodka, and the apéritif wine, Lillet Blanc, and it's very dry. This version replaces the Lillet Blanc with sambuca for an interesting and sweet flavor profile.

Sambuca vesper

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces London dry gin
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • ½ ounce sambuca
  • Ice
  • Lemon peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a cocktail glass.
  2. In a mixing glass, combine the gin, vodka, and sambuca. Add the ice and stir.
  3. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with the twist.

5. Sambuca and Soda

Made with club soda, this simple cocktail is all licorice all the time. This is a drink for anise purists. The recipe makes one cocktail.

Sambuca and soda

Ingredients

  • Crushed ice
  • 2 ounces sambuca
  • 4 ounces club soda
  • Lemon wedge (optional)

Instructions

  1. Fill a collins glass with crushed ice.
  2. Add the sambuca and club soda. Stir.
  3. Garnish with a lemon wedge if desired.

6. Sambuca Lemonade

Looking for something refreshing on a summer's afternoon? Try this lemonade with a twist. It's easy to make a glass or a pitcher, and the anise flavor matches well with the sweet acidity of the lemonade. The recipe makes one cocktail.

Licorice Lemonade

Ingredients

  • Crushed ice
  • 1 ounce sambuca
  • 5 ounces lemonade
  • Lemon slices and mint sprigs for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Fill a tall glass with crushed ice.
  2. Add the sambuca and lemonade. Stir.
  3. Garnish with lemon slices and mint sprigs if desired.

7. South of the Border BB Gun

How about a little tequila with your sambuca? The South of the Border BB Gun combines sambuca, lime cordial, and tequila in a zesty and refreshing drink that's a tasty alternative to a traditional margarita - perfect to go with your chips and salsa.

South of the Border BB Gun Drink

8. Sambuca Mule

The surprising combination of ginger and anise is a delicious one in this twist on the traditional Moscow mule.

Sambuca mule cocktail

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce lime juice
  • ¾ ounce sambuca
  • 1½ ounces vodka
  • Ice
  • 3 ounces ginger beer
  • Lime slice for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the lime juice, sambuca, and vodka. Add the ice. Shake to chill.
  2. Strain into a mule cup or rocks glass filled with ice. Add the ginger beer and stir.
  3. Garnish with a lime slice.

9. Sambuca-Orange Coffee

Sambuca's sweet licorice flavor goes well with bitter coffee and a hint of orange. While this recipe doesn't call for sugar because both Sambuca and Grand Marnier are sweet, you can sweeten it to taste.

Sambuca orange coffee

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce sambuca
  • 1 ounce Grand Marnier
  • 4 ounces strong, hot coffee
  • Lightly whipped heavy cream (unsweetened)

Instructions

  1. In a coffee mug, combine the sambuca, Grand Marnier, and coffee. Stir.
  2. Spoon the cream over the top.

10. Sambuca Collins

Sambuca's sweetness is the perfect element to add in place of simple syrup in a refreshing Tom Collins.

Sambuca collins cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces London dry gin
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce sambuca
  • Ice
  • 3 to 4 ounces club soda
  • Cherry and orange slice for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, lemon juice, and sambuca. Add ice and shake.
  2. Strain into a collins glass filled with ice.
  3. Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.

11. Sambuca Aviation Cocktail

A traditional aviation cocktail is made with gin, maraschino liqueur, and crème de violette. This recipe adds a little sambuca for a deep, mysterious flavor.

Sambuca aviation cocktail

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces London dry gin
  • ¾ ounce lemon juice
  • ¼ ounce maraschino liqueur
  • ¼ ounce sambuca
  • ¼ ounce crème de violette
  • Ice

Instructions

  1. Chill a cocktail glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, lemon juice, cherry liqueur, sambuca, and crème de violette.
  3. Add the ice and shake.
  4. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass.

Mixers for Sambuca

Along with the above cocktails and traditional ways of drinking it, you can create your own cocktails by mixing sambuca with mixers that have complementary flavors.

  • Club soda
  • Tonic water
  • Lemon-lime soda
  • Lemon juice
  • Lime juice
  • Orange juice
  • Sparkling wine
  • Coffee
  • Hot chocolate
  • Apple cider
  • Ginger ale
  • Ginger beer
  • Cranberry juice
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Root beer
  • Red Bull energy drink

Tips for Adding Sambuca to Cocktails

When working with sambuca in crafting your own cocktails, keep the following in mind.

  • Sambuca is extremely sweet, so if you're adding it to a cocktail that requires simple syrup or sugar, omit completely or reduce the amount of simple syrup in the recipe so you don't wind up with a cloyingly sweet cocktail.
  • Balance the sweetness of sambuca with a sour element such as lime juice or a bitter element, such as a few drops of cocktail bitters or a splash of tonic water.
  • Anise balances nicely with fruit flavors, so feel free to add fruit flavors such as berries or honeydew melon to your cocktail.
  • Sambuca will also complement herbal flavors such as mint, basil, tarragon, and thyme, so you can experiment with adding those to your cocktails.
  • Spice flavors that work well with sambuca include cinnamon, clove, ginger, and nutmeg.

Add Sambuca to Your Cocktail Rotation

Sambuca makes an interesting and tasty addition to a number of cocktails, so if you find yourself with a bottle of this delicious liqueur, use your imagination to come up with new flavor combinations. You may be surprised and just how much you find you love the flavor of licorice.

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Sambuca Drink Recipes