Galliano is an Italian liqueur that has an anise flavor combined with peppermint, cinnamon, vanilla, juniper, and other herbs. It is easily identified thanks to its bright yellow color which is packaged in a tall triangle-shaped bottle. Galliano is used in a range of cocktails including the Harvey Wallbanger and Golden Cadillac.
If you're mixing cocktails or following a dessert recipe that calls for Galliano then you can easily find a bottle online or at your local liquor store. But if you can't find the product or you don't want to buy a whole bottle then you will need a suitable replacement. We have pulled together a list of our favorite Galliano substitutes so that you can get by without it. Let's dive in and take a look at your options.
What can I use as a Galliano substitute?
If you need to replace Galliano, then the best options are Sambuca, Herbsaint, Anesone, Ouzo, or Raki. Roiano is also an excellent alternative but it is hard to find outside of Italy. For anyone that needs an alcohol-free option, then use a licorice extract combined with a little vanilla.
Sambuca is an Italian liqueur that has an anise flavor along with a herbaceous, berry-like undertone. The common variety of Sambuca is clear; however, there are other types such as red sambuca which is a bright red shade, and black sambuca which is a dark blue color.
Sambuca’s aniseed flavor makes it an ideal replacement for Galliano. It can be served neat, in cocktails, or mixed with water or coffee. Sambuca doesn't have that characteristic golden yellow color that you get from Galliano, so cocktails will have a different look to them.
Herbsaint is a liqueur that is heavy in star anise and is commonly used in mixology to add a crisp and sharp finish to cocktails. The brand originated in New Orleans back in 1934 to replace absinthe which contained an ingredient that was outlawed in the United States. Interestingly, the name "Herbsaint" is a near-anagram of the word absinthe.
Drink Herbsaint straight or mix it with other drinks of your choice. It is also delicious used as an ingredient in Oysters Rockefeller. Whatever you use a liqueur for, Herbsaint will work well as a substitute for Galliano.
If you've ever traveled to Greece or Cyprus, you won't have been able to miss the locals sitting outside cafes and bars drinking ouzo. It is a dry aperitif with a dominant licorice flavor. Ouzo is a potent drink that is produced from rectified spirits that have been distilled with additional flavors.
Ouzo is usually added to water and then drunken, although it can also be added to cocktails and sweet dishes. It is a good option for replacing Galliano, but watch out for its alcohol content.
Anesone is another Italian liqueur that is clear with a dominant flavor of anise. The most common uses for this drink include diluting it with fresh water for a light refreshing beverage. It can also be mixed into coffee which helps to highlight its delicate fragrance.
If you can't find Anesone at your local store or online, then you may want to try using Anisette. This product is also made from anise seeds; it is less sweet and dryer than Anisette.
Whether you choose Anesone or Anisette, both of these will have a stronger taste of anise than what you get from Galliano. These replacements will also have less herbal taste.
Raki is a Turkish drink that is often compared to ouzo but is much higher in alcohol content. It can be up to 90% alcohol compared to ouzo which is generally 35-40%. Raki makes an excellent alternative to Galliano with its strong anise taste. If you decide to use it as a substitute, then use smaller quantities as it is a very powerful drink.
Roiano could well be the closest cousin of Galliano, mimicking the flavor and color closely. Its golden yellow shade with a flavor combination of anise and vanilla make it the perfect Galliano substitute, even though it is a little sweeter.
The reason Roiano doesn't feature at the top of our list is that it is produced in Italy and isn't exported to many parts of the world. It is very difficult to find in the United States, but if you do manage to source a supplier, then we suggest you get a bottle or two.
7. Licorice Extract
Not everyone enjoys alcohol and others can't drink it for various reasons. If you're looking for an alcohol-free option that resembles Galliano then you're probably best to use licorice extract. This provides concentrated anise flavor and you'll only need a few drops to flavor drinks, baked goods, candy, marinades, or even frosting. If you choose this option, then add some vanilla extract as well to get closer to the Galliano flavor profile.
- Galliano has a 42.3% ABV which separates it from the other low-ABV sweet liqueurs.
- Although the ingredients that flavor Galliano are natural, its color is synthetic and comes from a yellow dye called Tartrazine.
- Once opened, Galliano should last at least one year before it starts to lose its flavor. If you have had a bottle sitting in the cupboard for the last few years, then it is probably time to discard it. The high proof of the liqueur should stop it going off, but its quality won't be as good as when it was first opened.
Galliano is one of the classic Italian liqueurs that was hugely popular in the 70s, but isn't as prominent these days. Its tall, triangular bottle is instantly recognizable and its height can be a real challenge to fit into the at-home bar. If you need a substitute then we recommend using Sambuca, Herbsaint, Anesone, Ouzo, or Raki. They all have the taste of aniseed but keep in mind each product will also have subtle differences. Roiano is another option that we think would work as the best alternative, but it is very hard to find outside of Italy. Use licorice extract if you're after an alcohol-free option.
What is your favorite aniseed-flavored alcoholic beverage? Please let us know in the comments below.