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Alcoholic Sugar Cubes / Zuccherini Alcolici

These Alcoholic Sugar Cubes are soaked in alcohol, orange slices and cinnamon or any combination you prefer. Better known as an Italian digestive.

alcoholic sugar cubes in a mason jar


If you know Italians, then you probably know that 90% of the time they talk about food.

What they are eating, what they are going to eat, where they are going to eat and when they are going to eat.

Lucky for me this is the best way to learn about different and new dishes. I learned how some mothers make a crostata, how some friends make a lasagna and so on.

sugar cubes, vodka, orange and cinnamon to make alcoholic sugarcubes
Ingredients to make Alcoholic Sugar Cubes.
all the ingredients to make alcoholic sugar cubes in a mason jar
All the ingredients layered in a jar.

But this time, we were sitting around and discussing different Christmas traditions, involving food of course. I was told about these Zuccherini Alcolici or Alcoholic Sugar Cubes.

Obviously I knew I had to make them and I had to do it fast because they need at least 20 days, 30 is better, to sit in the alcohol.

And I wanted to give you enough time to make them too.

If not for Christmas then how about New Years?

alcohol added to the jar to cover all the ingredients.
Alcohol added to the jar.

How to Make Alcoholic Sugar Cubes

There are many different ways of making these Sugar Cubes, I chose orange, lemon and cinnamon as my flavours.

Other flavours you could use are orange or lemon and mint leaves,  orange and cinnamon, star anise and mandarin  or even peppercorns, cloves or aniseed. Use your imagination!

  • Remove the rind from an orange and a lemon, without the white part.
  • Use a sterilized jar of choice that closes tight.
  • Place a stick or two of cinnamon and 1/3 of the rind from the orange and lemon.
  • Gently add sugar cubes as uniform as possible halfway up the jar.
  • Again place a stick or two of cinnamon and 1/3 of the rind.
  • Top with more sugar cubes, a stick of cinnamon and remaining rind.
  • Fill to the top, covering the sugar cubes with Alcohol. The alcohol must be at least 90% (such as Everclear).
  • Cover tightly and place in a dark cupboard for at least 20 days.
alcoholic sugar cubes on fire in a black dish

How to Serve Alcoholic Sugar Cubes

My friend explained that these are eaten after a meal, as a digestive, usually at Christmas or New Years.

If you don’t like the heavy taste of alcohol, place a cube in a spoon or even in a fire proof dish and light with a lighter or match, this will evaporate the alcohol. (Always be careful with fire).

Wait a few seconds and then blow out the flame, then pop it in your mouth. (if you are using a spoon careful that it isn’t too hot). If you leave it lit longer the sugar will even caramelize.

How to Sterilize Jars

Wash the jars in hot soapy water, then rinse well and drain. Place the jars in a large pot of boiling water for 10 minutes.

Then drain the jars upside down on a clean tea towel to dry. Here you will find other ways to sterilize the jars.

close up of alcoholic sugar cubes in a jar

Why does the alcohol have to be so strong?

The alcohol content must be at least 90-95% (eg Everclear) or the sugar cubes will dissolve. And you don’t want that!

Make your favourite cocktail such as an Old Fashioned, that calls for sugar cubes a little stiffer! Or add a little spike to your coffee or tea.

Or do as the Italians and serve them as a digestive, set them on fire (be careful) to remove the alcohol and pop one in your mouth.

More Italian Christmas Traditions


a slice of Panettone cut

Lupin Beans

ready to eat lupin beans in a grey bowl

Chocolate Torrone

chocolate torrone one piece up close


upclose photo of struffoli Italian honey balls

Whatever your traditions may be, I hope you decide to start a new one with one of these recipes. Enjoy!

3 alcoholic sugar cubes on fire
alcoholic sugar cubes on fire in a black dish

Alcoholic Sugar Cubes / Zuccherini Alcolico

Rosemary Molloy
These Alcoholic Sugar Cubes are soaked in alcohol, orange slices and cinnamon or any combination you prefer.  
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Dessert, Digestive
Cuisine Italian
Servings 50 cubes
Calories 24 kcal


These ingredients all depend on how large your jar is.

  • 1/2 – 1 bottle 90-95 % Alcohol (eg. Everclear)
  • 50-100 sugar cubes
  • rind 1 orange (just the rind no white part)
  • rind 1 lemon (just the rind no white part)
  • 4-6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1-3 sterilized jars


  • Wash and dry the orange and lemon, then peel, slice the peel into medium sized strips.
  • In sterilized jars (how to sterilize jars see the post) make 3 layers, starting with the orange and lemon peel, one or two cinnamon sticks, sugar cubes (try to place as uniform as possible) and finish with covering the cubes (leave a little space at the top), with the alcohol.
  • Place the jar or jars in a dark spot (eg a cupboard rarely opened) and leave for at least 20 – 30 days.  
  • Serve as a digestive after dinner, if they are too strong, place a cube in a fire resistant plate or spoon and light on fire for 2-3 seconds.  Enjoy.


Calories: 24kcal
Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!


  1. Regarding sterilizing the jars: your readers might want to consider washing the storage jar and lid in a hot dishwasher, and leaving the jar there until it is ready for use. The dishwasher will do a much better job sterilizing the jar than washing by hand would ever do.

  2. I just made these and am so excited for them to be ready. I just wanted to say you might want to change the ingredients list to say 90-95 percent instead of proof. the proof is double the percentage which may be what’s confusing people. 90% alcohol Everclear would be 180 proof! Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. 5 stars
    I am trying this recipe and my sugar cubes are dissolving. I am using 100 proof vodka. So I probably did something wrong. Truthfully it doesn’t matter cause I’m going to let it sit for as long as I like and have a great tasting vodka! So I thank you for introducing me to this tradition.😘

    1. Hi HRose, yes it’s because you need to use what they call Everclear, vodka isn’t strong enough, it says 100 proof but the alcohol content is only 50%, whereas everclear is 95% alcohol content. But glad you got some great tasting vodka. Have a great weekend.

  4. I followed the instructions precisely and all the sugar cubes dissolved. I used C & H sugar cubes and 100 proof vodka. What did I miss?

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