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Anise (also anis, Pimpinella anisum), is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. It is known for its flavor, which resembles liquorice, fennel and tarragon. Western cuisines have long used anise as a moderately popular herb to flavor some dishes, drinks, and candies, and so the word has come to connote both the species of herb and the licorice-like flavor. The most powerful flavor component of the essential oil of anise, anethole, is found in both anise and an unrelated spice called star anise.
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Anise is sweet and very aromatic, distinguished by its licorice-like flavor. The seeds, whole or ground, are used in a wide variety of regional and ethnic confectioneries, including British aniseed balls, Australian humbugs, New Zealand aniseed wheels, Italian pizzelle, German Pfeffernusse and Springerle, Austrian Anisebögen, Netherland muisjes, Norwegian knotts, New Mexican Bizcochitos, and Peruvian picarones. It is a key ingredient in Mexican atole de anís or champurrado, which is similar to hot chocolate, and it is taken as a digestive after meals in India.
Anise is used to flavor Middle Eastern arak, Colombian aguardiente, French spirits absinthe, anisette and pastis, Greek ouzo, Bulgarian mastika, German Jägermeister, Italian sambuca, Dutch Brokmöpke, Peruvian and Spanish anís, Mexican Xtabentún and Turkish raki. It is believed to be one of the secret ingredients in the French liqueur Chartreuse. It is also used in some root beers, such as Virgil's in the United States. (Source Wikipedia.)