A Sambuca Salute to the New Year

Staff Writer
Start off a New Year’s Day brunch with a toast and a shot of ‘Sambuca Fire and Ice.’
Roger Morris

Sambuca is topped with three, and only three, coffee beans. 

Thinking about a drink that is both old and new to toast in New Year’s Day with family and friends?

Even if you’ve welcomed in the New Year a few short hours earlier, try this one eye-opener for breakfast or brunch on New Year’s morning.  It’s called “Sambuca Fire and Ice.”  It’s new because it takes a liqueur-and-coffee after-dinner drink and repurposes it as the perfect shot to welcome in the first day of 2015.  At the same time, it’s traditional, a favorite drink in southern Italy and for years the drink to end a meal in New York City’s ethnic-Italian, red-table-cloth restaurants.

Fire and ice — “ghiaccio e mosche”  is perhaps most popular in Italy’s Marche region, where a shot glass or other small, clear glass is filled partially with clear or “white” sambuca anise-flavored liqueur (the ice) and topped with three, and only three, coffee beans.  Our preference is Molinari Sambuca Extra, first commercialized in Italy 70 years ago 1945, and our preferred coffee beans are dark roasted for robust aromas.

A match is used to set fire to the drink’s alcohol (around 42 percent).  The aromatic blaze releases the rich aromas of roast coffee and anise, and, after the fire dies out, the drink can be sipped, tossed down all at once or added to a large cup of coffee as a flavored sweetener.

Another reason Sambuca Fire and Ice is such a good drink for New Year’s Day toasting is that the three beans are the symbols of “health, happiness and prosperity,” something everyone wishes for themselves and their family and friends at the dawn of a New Year.

Alla salute! – to health.

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