Sambuca & Pastis
Sambuca and Pastis | Next Day Delivery | 31DOVER.com
Sambuca & Pastis: Not just for shots
With a unique taste of either aniseed or liquorice, these flavoured spirits make excellent digestifs as well as key cocktail components.
Sambuca is the aniseed-flavoured spirit that has probably only passed your lips in shot form. But shake off any bad memories of it, as sambuca is a tasty liquor to use as a base for mixers and cocktails. The sambuca name is still something of a mystery, with theorists split between the notion that it name is taken from the Arabic word "zammit" which was how it was described when it landed in Italy, but others believe it is taken from the Latin word "sambucus", which was one of the original ingredients contained within the spirit.
Sambuca comes in three forms:
Colourless (white sambuca)
Dark blue (actually referred to as black sambuca)
Red (red sambuca)
Each of these varies in its intensity of flavour. The most typically used is white sambuca, as this tends to have a more balanced taste.
This unique taste is a result of sambuca's production process, where the liquor is seasoned with the oils of star anise, liquorice and other similar spices, as well as elderflowers. This oil mix is then added to pure alcohol and sugar solution, and bottled at 42% abv. Sambuca is a relatively young drink, in that it was only really discovered about 130 years ago after arriving in the Italian port of Civitavecchia on ships from the East. In Italian tradition, sambuca is typically served with three coffee beans which represent health, wealth and happiness. It can also be served with seven coffee beans, each of which represents one of the seven hills of Rome.
How to Enjoy Sambuca
Cocktails that utilise sambuca are fairly contemporary in nature – as evidenced by their names such as Wayne’s World, Ace Ventura and Freddy Kruger – but there are plenty of classic mixes to enjoy too. Take the Flatliner for example; sambuca layerered with a dash of tequila and a splash of Tabasco sauce. There’s also the Black Martini, which joins two-thirds of gin with one-third of sambuca in holy matrimony. Of course, you can enjoy sambuca neat on the rocks if you like that aniseed flavour, or dilute it with water in a tall thin glass for a refreshing spritzer-style mix. Thanks to its 'anise' qualities, sambuca also goes really well with coffee, perfect for post-dinner relaxation.
Pastis is another liquorice-inspired spirit, however it's foundations are in France. The liquor is typically mixed with sugar and bottled at around 40-45% abv. It was first brought to wider public attention in 1932, where it was introduced by Paul Ricard as a commodity. It is still much-loved to this day in many regions of France, particularly in the south eastern city of Marseille. Pastis is seen by many as a direct replacement for absinthe, which was banned in 1915 for its supposed harmful effects. Pastis took around 17 years to come to fruition, and whilst its strength is similar to that of absinthe, pastis takes its anise flavouring from the distillation process, rather than the base flavour as absinthe does from green anise.
Today, pastis is produced by typically mixing the alcohol base with a prepared flavouring or extract, and often caramel colouring. It is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in France, with more than 130 million litres sold each year and enjoyed as an evening digestif or post-meal tipple.
How to Enjoy Pastis
Pastis boasts such a strong aniseed flavour that it is often diluted with water by even the hardiest of enthusiasts, and usually in the proportion of one part pastis to five parts water. The dilution process actually changes the spirit’s colour from a darkish yellow to a milder yellow tinge, as some of its constituent parts are insoluble. This is known as the "ouzo effect". Ice cubes can be added but only after the water part, otherwise a crystallisation of the anethole component can occur which results in quite a sickly liquor. There are cocktails to enjoy with your pastis if you are feeling adventurous. The Nicky Finn fuses pastis with cognac, triple sec, lemon juice and berries for a tastebud-tingling citrus drink, while the Moonraker fuses pastis with cognac and peach brandy.