What Is Anise Liqueur?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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Anise liqueur is a type of alcoholic drink made or flavored with aniseed or star anise. Most of these types of liqueurs are clear with a strong black licorice taste. Many countries produce types of anise based liquors. These can be served a number of ways, including straight up and on ice. Anise liqueur may also be an ingredient in some drink recipes, including those that are lit afire.

These can be yellow or green in color, but they are usually clear. Anise liqueur often has a strong black licorice taste. Some manufacturers of these types of liqueurs may use some licorice as a flavoring or additive.

True anise liquor is typically made by distilling the various components of the anise, or aniseed, plant. This plant is native to some parts of the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia. The fruit of the star anise plant, an evergreen tree native to China, can also be used to make anise liqueur. It produces the same type of anise flavor, but it is generally less expensive.

Many countries are known for traditional types of anise liqueurs. Sambuca is an Italian anise-flavored liqueur, for example, and ouzo is a Greek anise-flavored liqueur. Pastis is an anise liqueur that is a popular aperitif in France. This drink was created in the early 20th century, to replace absinthe, which was banned around the same time.


Absinthe, which is believed to be Swiss in origin, is an anise-based spirit with a high alcohol content. Traditional absinthe was also made with the leaves and flowers of wormwood, which were believed to cause hallucinations. Today, however, most countries have now lifted this ban, and the drink has once again become legal. The traditional way to drink absinthe involves placing a sugar cube on a slotted absinthe spoon placed over a glass with a small amount of absinthe in it. The drink is then sweetened and diluted by dripping ice cold water over the sugar cube and into the glass.

Other types of anise liqueur are also diluted with ice cold water. Certain oils in anise liqueurs are only soluble in alcohol, not water. When the water mixes with the liqueur, these oils separate from the rest of the liquid, making it appear cloudy. This is known as the louche effect.

Some anise liqueurs have a high enough alcohol content to catch on fire. These are sometimes used in flaming drinks, such as the Flaming Lamborghini. To make this drink, a high-proof anise liqueur is set on fire and other liquors are poured into the mixture.


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