Here's The Difference Between Ouzo And Sambuca

Spain has its fruity sangria. Ireland has its pints of frothy Guinness. France has its endless varieties of vino. But what about the Mediterranean countries, like Greece and Italy? In this region of Europe, you'll find the usual culprits at the bar, but you'll also find a plethora of anise-flavored spirits. There are a bunch of options — pastis, Chinchón, anisette — but two of the most commonly-known among Americans are ouzo and sambuca.

The two seem very similar (and they are) but they also have some slight differences. While both are made with anise, which is a fragrant seed that lends a distinct licorice-like flavor, ouzo is from Greece while sambuca is from Italy. The origins of the liqueurs aren't the only thing that sets the two apart, however. Here's the key difference between ouzo and sambuca that many people don't know. Cheers! Or as the Italians would say, salut!

You drink ouzo and sambuca in different ways at different times

One of the major distinctions between ouzo and sambuca is when (and how) you drink each one. Ouzo is an apertif, which means it's often consumed before dinner (although The Takeout says it should always be accompanied by some sort of Greek appetizer or meze platter). According to Vine Pair, the most common way to drink it is mixed with water and simply served over ice. When you pour the clear liqueur into the water, it creates a distinctive white and cloudy beverage that's also known as the "ouzo effect." 

On the other hand, sambuca is a digestif, which means it's consumed after a meal. It can be drank neat or mixed into water, like ouzo, but The International Kitchen says that sambuca is commonly served with three coffee beans con la mosca, which translates to "with the fly." The Italian spirit is also often poured into espresso or placed on the side.