When you go to Italy, you find Sambuca. In Greece there is Ouzo and any visitor to Turkey must have Raki. Even though these three sound different they are all same since all of them are made from an anise essence, a flowering plant. Though all of them do use alcohol which is distilled from another base, the most common being grapes.
Anise is a native of Mediterranean Europe and there are other variants of alcohol from this plant which you can find in some of the balkan states.
Not sure how much of this info is useful but if you are find a bottle or Raki then probably this info might be useful for you. The worse which can happen to any good drink is that it doesn’t get bought because the buyer thinks to be some local exotic drink. So Raki is not be ignored.
Now some of the popular brands , at least a one for each. Look for Yeni Raki, Ouzo Barbayanni and Luxardo Sambuca. Assuming that you have one then the logical next query is that, how does one have it. Well, lets go and find out that how its taken in its native countries.
First, Sambuca. Italian have it in style and fire, yeah literally , its taken as shots and these are flaming. You should be able to find ‘Flaming Sambucas’ and the fire is put out by closing the mouth. It doesn’t hurt so try it.
Ouzo is the national drink of Greece and they have it straight up. They love it have lots of it.
Raki probably is like household thing, its locally known as ‘Lion’s Milk’ and you have it slowly just like whiskey. I recently read a book by William Dalrymple called ‘In Xanadu’ and when he was traveling through Turkey, he had a lot of Raki at some Turkey station, the train was delayed by almost 24 hours while William had Raki with some of the railway employees over a game of cards.
So that was a short note on Sambuca, Raki and Ouzo.