How many calories are in 25ml of sambuca?

Sambuca is a popular Italian liqueur that is often consumed as a shot. It has a strong anise flavor and is sometimes served with coffee beans or burned to create a smoky taste. Sambuca contains sugar, so it does have caloric content. But how many calories are actually in a 25ml serving of sambuca?

What Is Sambuca?

Sambuca is an Italian anise-flavored liqueur that originated in Italy in the 19th century. The name “sambuca” comes from the Latin word “sambucus” which refers to the elderberry plant. Sambuca is made from star anise, licorice, elderberries, and other herbs, spices, and flavors.

Traditional sambuca has an alcohol content of 38-42% ABV (76-84 proof). There are also versions with a lower alcohol content. Premium versions may age in oak barrels.

Sambuca is often consumed as a shot. It may be served straight up or on the rocks. A popular way to drink sambuca is with 3 coffee beans in the glass. The beans are meant to be chewed before and after the shot to enhance the flavor.

Another popular way to consume sambuca is flamed or “fired.” The sambuca is poured into a glass with a layer of coffee beans in the bottom. It is then lit on fire briefly before being put out and consumed. This creates a smoky, roasted flavor.

Nutrition Facts For Sambuca

Like any alcoholic beverage, sambuca contains calories from the alcohol content as well as any sugars or other ingredients added to the liqueur. The calorie content can vary slightly between brands and versions of sambuca.

Here are some general nutrition facts for sambuca:

  • Serving size: 1 shot or 25ml
  • Calories: 97
  • Carbohydrates: 12 g
  • Sugars: 11 g
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Fat: 0 g

The main source of calories in sambuca comes from the sugar. A 25ml serving contains about 11 grams of sugar. Since there are 4 calories per gram of sugar, this accounts for 44 of the 97 calories.

The remaining calories come from the alcohol content. Pure alcohol contains 7 calories per gram. At 40% ABV, a 25ml serving of sambuca would provide around 53 calories from the alcohol.

So in total, a single 25ml shot of sambuca contains approximately:

  • 44 calories from sugar
  • 53 calories from alcohol
  • Total = 97 calories

How Sambuca Calories Compare To Other Alcoholic Beverages

Compared to other popular alcoholic beverages, sambuca is moderately high in calories. Here’s how it compares per 25ml serving:

Beverage Calories
Sambuca (38-42% ABV) 97
Vodka (40% ABV) 70
Gin (40% ABV) 70
Rum (40% ABV) 75
Tequila (40% ABV) 70
Whiskey (40% ABV) 70

Sambuca has more calories than most clear spirits like vodka, gin, rum, and tequila. This is because sambuca contains added sugar, while clear spirits generally do not.

Whiskey is similar in calories to clear spirits since it does not have added sugars. But sambuca still has around 30% more calories than whiskey due to its sugar content.

Does Flaming Sambuca Change The Calorie Count?

When sambuca is consumed flaming, does this alter the calorie content? The answer is no. Lighting sambuca briefly on fire does not significantly change the calorie count.

The purpose of flaming sambuca is to caramelize the sugars and enhance the flavor. However, the sambuca is only ignited for a few seconds before being extinguished and consumed. This brief flambé does not burn off any substantial calories or alcohol.

So whether you drink sambuca straight, on the rocks, or flamed, you can expect each 25ml serving to contain around 97 calories.

Tips For Drinking Sambuca With Less Calories

Here are some tips if you want to enjoy sambuca but also watch your calorie intake:

  • Dilute with water – Add water to your sambuca to dilute the calories. Try a 1:1 ratio of sambuca to water.
  • Request lower sugar version – Some brands make a lower sugar sambuca with around 70 calories per serving.
  • Skip the flaming – Flaming will not reduce any calories. Drink it straight instead.
  • Smaller serving size – Stick to a single 25ml shot instead of multiple.
  • Avoid sugary mixers – Skip high-calorie sodas, juices, or cream liquors as mixers.
  • Drink on full stomach – Always drink responsibly with food to minimize effects.

Nutrition Info For Other Sambuca Serving Sizes

Here is the calorie and nutrition info for different serving sizes of sambuca:

Serving Size Calories Carbs (g) Sugars (g)
25ml (1 shot) 97 12 11
50ml (double shot) 194 24 22
100ml (4 shots) 388 48 44

As you can see, the calories and sugar content scale linearly based on the serving size. So drinking four shots would contain four times the calories and carbohydrates as a single shot.

Should You Worry About Sambuca Calories?

Sambuca is a fine liqueur to consume in moderation as part of a balanced diet. However, it is quite high in sugar and calories compared to other spirits.

Drinking multiple shots or sambuca cocktails in one sitting can add up calories very quickly. This could potentially hinder weight loss goals or impact blood sugar if consumed frequently.

Most health experts recommend limiting intake to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men. One drink is considered 25ml of 40% ABV liquor.

As long as you stick to reasonable serving sizes and account for the calories, enjoying the occasional sambuca should not be an issue. But it’s best reserved for special occasions rather than daily consumption.

Should You Count Sambuca Calories When Dieting?

If you are following a diet for weight loss or blood sugar control, it is a good idea to account for sambuca’s calories when tracking your intake.

A single 25ml serving contains 97 calories. That represents a significant portion of most people’s calorie budgets on a reduced calorie diet. It’s equivalent to a snack like a small bag of chips or a couple of cookies.

So if you are counting calories or following a diet, be sure to factor in the calories whenever you consume sambuca. You may need to reduce your other food intake that day to accommodate the sambuca calories and stay on target.

Some reduced calorie diets like intermittent fasting may restrict alcohol or caloric beverages altogether. In that case, sambuca would not fit into the diet plan and should be avoided.

Checking the calorie counts on alcoholic drinks can sometimes reveal “hidden” calories you might not realize you are consuming. Being aware of the calories will help with making informed choices that align with your health and diet goals.

Low Calorie Sambuca Alternatives

If you want to enjoy the flavors of sambuca but are watching your calorie intake, here are some lower calorie alternatives:

  • Diluted sambuca – Try adding soda water or plain seltzer to dilute the sambuca and cut the calories in half.
  • Low-sugar sambuca – Some brands make sambuca with less sugar and around 70 calories per serving.
  • Ouzo – This Greek anise-flavored liquor is similar to sambuca but lower in sugar and calories.
  • Absinthe – This anise-forward spirit contains around 90 calories per serving.
  • Pastis – The French version of anise liqueur has around 80 calories per serving.

Spirits like vodka, gin, rum and whiskey are even lower in calories if you truly want to limit your intake. But they will be missing the distinctive anise flavor of sambuca.

Making The Best Choices To Manage Calories

Sambuca can absolutely be enjoyed even when you are monitoring your calorie intake. Just keep these tips in mind:

  • Sip slowly and stop at one serving
  • Avoid sugary mixers like sodas or juices
  • Drink on a full stomach
  • Dilute with water or soda water to reduce calories
  • Account for the calories when tracking your diet
  • Balance intake with lower calorie foods that day if needed

Drink mindfully, opt for lower calorie options when possible, and find ways to fit it into your overall daily calorie budget. This will allow you to enjoy the unique flavors of sambuca without going overboard on calories.


A 25ml serving of sambuca contains about 97 calories. This comes mainly from its sugar content, unlike lower calorie clear spirits. While sambuca can be enjoyed reasonably as part of a balanced diet, it is one of the higher calorie liqueurs.

If you are tracking calorie intake or following a diet, be sure to account for the nearly 100 calories in each sambuca shot. There are also some lower calorie alternatives that allow you to enjoy the anise flavor without all the extra calories. Drink consciously and in moderation to keep sambuca as an occasional treat.

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