The Origin of Sambuca Liqueur

Are you a fan of Sambuca Liqueur? Ever wondered where it comes from?

The etymology is disputed: the Molinari company states that the name Sambuca comes from an Arabic word – Zammut. This was the name of an anise-flavoured drink that arrived at the port of Civitavecchia by ships coming from the East in the 1800s. The Oxford English Dictionary states, however, that the term comes from the Latin word sambucus, meaning “elderberry”.

It certainly has no connection with the sambuco plant (sambucus nigra). In fact, sambuco has absolutely no connection to the herbs contained in “sambuca”.

The Greek word Sambuca was first used as the name of another elderberry liquor that was created in Civitavecchia about 130 years ago.

In 1851 the first commercial version of the drink was produced in Civitavecchia by Luigi Manzi. He named it Sambuca Manzi, in memory of the “sambuchelli”, or the “acquaioli” ( water and anis sellers) of his native Ischia.

Angelo Molinari

In 1945, soon after the end of Second World War, Commendatore Angelo Molinari started producing Sambuca Extra Molinari, which helped popularise Sambuca Liqueur throughout Italy.

Did you know that Sambuca is traditionally served with three coffee beans? And so we learn! Now, go a head and have a Slippery Nipple shot to celebrate this almost forgotten liqueur.