Sambuca is a type of liqueur made in Italy and flavored solely with star anise, which differentiates it from pastis and other licorice-flavored liqueurs such as ouzo and arak. Sambuca can be either clear or dark in color.
The first commercial version of Sambuca was created in 1851 by Luigi Manzi in the town of Civitavecchia, near Rome. After World War II, Angelo Molinari introduced Sambuca Extra Molinari, which is one of the more popular brands of Sambuca today.
Sambuca's high anethole content means that it will louche (turn milky colored) once the alcohol level drops to around 80 proof. Most versions of Sambuca come in slightly higher than that.
The most common ways to drink Sambuca are either added to coffee, served with three coffee beans on top (called con la mosca -- the three beans are considered lucky and stand for health, happiness and prosperity), or lit on fire briefly, then drunk neat.