Quantcast

An Insider's guide to restaurants, wine, spirits and culinary travel

Sambuca Molinari

Virtually every culture has an anise-flavored spirit that forms an important part of its social fabric. Greece prides itself on Ouzo; France produces Anisette, Absinthe, Pastis and Pernod; Turks drink Raki, while Arak is the favorite among the other (and supposedly abstemious) countries of the Middle East. Italy’s pride and joy is Sambuca, and one brand stands above the rest: Molinari.


Angelo Molinari invented his potion in 1945 in Citavecchia, just outside of Rome. It was basically Anisette with a higher alcohol content and better ingredients, an infusion of essential oils from star anise and elderflowers. It was produced by hand at first by trained artisans using traditional methods, a few bottles at a time, and the first commercial plant wasn’t opened until 1959. In the 1960’s it became synonymous with the dolce vita of Italy, and became the drink of celebrities and film stars; famed Italian race car driver Mario Andretti was the commercial face of Molinari throughout the 1980s. In 1968 it was recognized as being superior in quality, or Extra, by the Italian Supreme Court (now, there’s a judiciary focused on life’s important issues---who cares if they’re legislating from the bench?). Today it has a stunning 87% market share within its category, a unique achievement in the world of spirits.


Because Sambuca is a liqueur, its high sugar content usually mandates consumption after dinner. The classic presentation is con la mosca (literally “flies”)---served in a snifter with floating coffee beans, always an odd number for superstitious reasons. The traditional three beans signify health, happiness and prosperity. Many Italians use it in place of sugar to sweeten their espresso, giving rise to the well-known caffè corretto or “corrected coffee.” Flaming the Sambuca for a few seconds in the snifter before drinking is a popular bit of theater, although it may or may not add something to the taste.
Using Sambuca in cocktails is tricky, since its strong flavor tends to dominate other ingredients. For this reason, the most popular bar drinks are shots. If you’re interested in a mixed drink, try the via Veneto cocktail (brandy, Sambuca, egg white, lemon juice and sugar), the Matinee (substitute gin for the brandy), the Genoa (gin, Sambuca, dry vermouth and grappa). Thirsty? Try a Zambeer, a long drink with Sambuca and root beer.

Recipes:

VIA VENETO
2 oz. brandy
1 oz. Sambuca Molinari
1 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp. sugar
1 egg white
Shake ingredients strenuously in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice; pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass.

GENOA
Note: There are numerous versions of the Genoa cocktail, and virtually all of them use a completely different set of ingredients (we’re talking about Italy, remember). This one seems to have the cleanest, most straightforward flavors:
1 ½ oz. gin
¾ oz. Sambuca Molinari
¾ oz. dry vermouth
¾ oz. grappa
Stir in mixing glass with ice; strain, and add an olive.

ZAMBEER
1 ½ oz. Sambuca Molinari
10 oz. root beer
Pour the Sambuca into a highball glass with ice; fill to top with root beer.

sambuca molinari cocktails

Recipes:

VIA VENETO
2 oz. brandy
1 oz. Sambuca Molinari
1 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp. sugar
1 egg white
Shake ingredients strenuously in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice; pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass.

GENOA
Note: There are numerous versions of the Genoa cocktail, and virtually all of them use a completely different set of ingredients (we’re talking about Italy, remember). This one seems to have the cleanest, most straightforward flavors:
1 ½ oz. gin
¾ oz. Sambuca Molinari
¾ oz. dry vermouth
¾ oz. grappa
Stir in mixing glass with ice; strain, and add an olive.

ZAMBEER
1 ½ oz. Sambuca Molinari
10 oz. root beer
Pour the Sambuca into a highball glass with ice; fill to top with root beer.

                     great wine for under $15?

It’s not a typo, oxymoron or stupid question. There’s a lot of very good wine at very low prices, but discovering it is a challenge---particularly when you’re strolling the wine aisle of your local supermarket or beverage superstore, staring at a tsunami of unfamiliar labels.

The answer is Mark Spivak’s Affordable Wine Guide to California and the Pacific Northwest, available as an e-book for $7.99. The book profiles 43 producers and contains hundreds of wine reviews, and gives you a clear-cut view of the good and the bad. The criteria are simple: What does the wine taste like? What kind of food does it go with? Is it worth the money?

Click here to order (fulfillment is handle by E-Junkie and payments processed through PayPal):

Buy Now

Or click here for more information