A unique recipe allowed the anisette from Civitavecchia to become famous all over the globe
In 1851, Luigi Manzi in Civitavecchia (province of Viterbo) created the recipe of a new aniseed liqueur with a pleasant flavor and refined bouquet that had important digestive and carminative qualities. Later on, Angelo Molinari launched his version of it on the international market and allowed the whole world to appreciate the by-now iconic Sambuca.
Many still believe that Manzi called his liqueur Sambuca because one of the ingredients was elderberry, which in Italian is called ‘sambuco‘, but this is far from true. In fact, in one of the letters conserved in the archive of the Manzi family, Luigi Manzi wrote: “I produce a fine anisette that is very good for the stomach after a meal.” Explaining that it is called Sambuca because of the ‘sambuchelli’, the watermen that near Naples and the island of Ischia, at that time, used to “go in the fields to quench the thirst of the peasants bringing them water and anise.”
However, even if we know that elderberry is not one of the ingredients of Sambuca, no one knows the ingredients used to produce it, nor their dosage, which both Luigi Manzi and his heirs, and subsequently the Molinari family, always considered a top-secret.
Other recipes can be easily found in the various manuals of herbal liqueurs, but it is undeniable that it is the ‘secret’ of the producer that transforms a common anisette into the famous Sambuca di Civitavecchia.
Currently, the liqueur is marketed under two different brands: Sambuca Manzi, slightly drier and more popular on the local market, and Sambuca extra Molinari, created in 1945 by Angelo Molinari and become famous all over the world.
Both brands are owned by Molinari International Spa, in fact, after WWII, the heirs of Luigi Manzi had transferred the family firm to Erminio Ricci who, in the 1980s, sold it to Molinari because the younger brand was a much too strong competitor at a national and international level.
Ilona Catani Scarlett