As an antique tradition would have it, a tradition that to this day embraces all the countries of the Mediterranean basin, Italy too has its anise based national liqueur: Sambuca. It is a sweet but strong liqueur, containing essential oils obtained by steam distilling the seeds of star anise, which are soluble in pure alcohol.
A concentratedsolution of sugar and other natural aromas are added to this. Already known and appreciated in ancient times for its therapeutic properties, the anise plant, originating from China, became widespread through the centuries in the countries of the Mediterranean coast, where it became widely used for preparing typical dishes and desserts. Above all, the oils obtained from anise were used by liqueur firms to produce a selection of liqueurs such
as French Pastis, Spanish Anis, Turkish Raki and Greek Ouzo.
The word Sambuca derived from the Arab word Zammut (= anise). The word “zammù” still exists in the Sicilian dialect,
meaning an anise drink diluted with water.