Pros: An enjoyable after dinner drink
Cons: If you really don't like licorice then this drink may not be for you.
Ill never forget the first time I tasted Sambuca.
We were in London, getting ready to embark on a long trip through the UK when we passed an Italian restaurant just down the street from the Hilton London Mews, the small hotel we were staying at in the Mayfair area. This street is called Shepherds Market, a very small street with an intimate feel of a country village...The smells wafting out of that restaurant were so enticing we couldnt resist going in. The owner/chef greeted us at the door so warmly we knew we had made a good choice This was confirmed by the incredibly good meal we then proceeded to devour. Everything we tried was at his suggestion and since the place wasnt very busy he came out of the kitchen to talk to us throughout the evening. (This happens quite frequently to us especially when we mention we are in the restaurant business). At the end of the meal he wanted to treat us to a typical Italian after dinner drink so when he brought out two drinks that were on fire I must say I was more than surprised
We were then told it was an Italian custom to put 3 coffee beans in the drink and then set it ablaze Once the fire is blown out the drink is then slowly sipped providing a warm delicious treat to your palette.
Now I want to preface that as far as licorice candy goes I really am not the biggest fan. I usually pick out and throw away black jelly beans and chuckles so I was amazed that I really liked this drink since it does have a somewhat licorice flavor but its milder and reminded me of one of my favorite cookies, those little Anise cookies so popular at Christmas time.
It also had a sweetness I enjoyed, a bit flowery or fruity I thought at that time I really wasnt sure what it was but I loved the warm sensation it gave me as it went down and I guess, since it was a nice size glass he treated us to, that it was a good thing we didnt have to drive I must admit that just one drink made me a bit tipsy.
We left the next day for the beautiful English Countryside Upon our return to London we were staying at the same hotel so we went back to see our new found Italian friend to enjoy another meal at his restaurant. Again he brought out that little fiery drink and with a warm toast wished us a safe trip home.
At the duty-free store at the Gatwick airport we bought a bottle of Sambuca Romana Liquore Classico to bring home with us..We had the coffee beans already in our cupboard. We would be ready to celebrate our return with the memory of those two delicious dinners when the urge hit us. And so we did more than once, each time putting the 3 beans in the bottom of the glass and lighting it up. To Claudio we would toast and smile at the memory of England and that friendly Italian and most talented chef.. We also experimented with putting a shot, (about 1 ? ounces), of this fine liqueur into hot coffee or cappuccino and enjoyed that way as well. But soon, with time, we sort of forget about this drink though I did buy another bottle when the first one ran out.
Recently when looking through the our liquor cabinet I came across this fine elixir and the other night after a we had a big Italian dinner we decided to give Claudio another toast.
This time though I concentrated on the flavors that were so evident. Yes that taste of Anise was most prevalent as would be the case since the main ingredient is the Anise root but what was that fruity/flowery taste? Could it be the Elderberry oil that is used to create this fine liqueur? I love berries of all kinds so I decided to do a bit a research on Elderberries and was very pleased to find out what a fine and healthy berry this one truly is as most berries are. Elderberries are no exception and for centuries the tree from which they are cultivated has been called the medicine chest of the common people. From the roots, to the flowers, berries, leaves and even the bark have been used as remedies for many ailments in folk medicine as well as having been used to ward off evil spirits or to bring good luck depending on the where it was and what culture or people were using it...As far back as the Stone age to the Ancient Romans and during the Middle ages in Africa and all through Europe, Elderberries have been used as a source of good health. Primarily though the juice of the berry has been used as a tea or in drinks to cure the common cold, reduce fevers and to sooth sore throats. In some cultures it was thought that Elderberries could even prolong life...The leaves were used topically to reduce skin infections, swelling, inflammations and even promote good skin care. Today the berries are still used topically for those purposes and most commonly, when they are cooked, are the main ingredient in jams and jellies,
Most importantly, the Oil of Elderberries is used in this delicious elixir, Sambuca Romana Liquore Classico. When poured in the glass and swirled around you can see the faint remains of the oil on the sides of the glass, providing evidence of the benefits you derive when you not only want a good drink but a healthy one at that! And yes, this drink is potent with 42% alcohol by volume, too many of these hot to trot drinks will make you wish for a speedy recovery but not with any more Elderberry cures!
But, I must not forget that the main taste is Anise and though not exactly licorice, very close, so those who really do not like licorice may not like this drink but I would like to suggest if it's offered to you, just give it a taste, you might be surprised as I was, for to me Sambuca Romana Liquore Classico is a perfect after dinner drink especially after a fine Italian meal..Even if you dont set it on fire, dont forget the coffee beans, if nothing else it gives a special oomph to the mood and savors the experience.
Sambuca Romana Liquore Classico retails for about $20-25 a bottle depending on where your purchase it and always Remember dont drink And Drive!
Cheers, A Votre Sante', L'Chaim, Salut, Prost, To Life!