May 12, 2009 / Food & Wine
Le Marche
sambuca1Plant and herb-based digestivi (digestive liquors) are a common conclusion for many the multi-course Italian feast. The restorative properties of mint, myrhh, artichokes and aloe are supposedly an optimum aid for processing everything from the antipasti to the dolce (…and the primo and the secondo and the contorno, etc…).

Sambuca, made from anise, is one of the more popular liquori digestivi, claiming a fame that extends worldwide. In the Marche region, an unusual pairing of Sambuca and coffee beans creates the refreshing Sambuca, ghiaccio e mosche (lit. “Sambuca, ice and flies” – the flies being the coffee beans that float to the top of the glass).

The crispness of the ice and the crunch and flavor of the coffee beans are a great match for the sweet taste of the liquor. Though the Marchigiani are very liberal with the amount of mosche, the tradition is that there should only be three – to represent health, happiness and prosperity.

Alla salute! (To health!)


— Megan McDonnel, from Context Travel, is the author of this note. Many thanks!

by Context Travel

The Experience of Place

9 Responses to “Sambuca”

  1. Susan

    Yes, we do this in our family after a long holiday meal, but never lit (I mean the Sambuca lol)…..never heard of that step!

  2. Fascinating! There was a liquor my husband loved in Italy made from fennel. It seems like it must be just a homemade concoction because no one outside of Italy has ever heard of it!

  3. We enjoy Sambuca after big meals and served with the coffee beans. We also enjoy actually adding a little Sambuca directly into a cup of hot coffee for an added delight!

  4. Christine

    I had always heard the three beans represented the father, the son and the holy ghost, although I don’t seem to find that anywhere I look now…Anyway, it certainly is delicious!!

  5. Just saw this and tried it. Mmmmm. I put 3 beans in 3 cubes and a nice dose. Salute !!


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