Definition: Liqueurs, or cordials, are just as important as the base liquors in the bar, and some are more important than others. A liqueur is a sweet distilled spirit with sugar contents starting at 2.5 percent, with the sweetest (ie. crèmes) going far beyond that.
These spirits often begin with a base liquor, which could be anything from a neutral grain alcohol to a brandy, whiskey, or rum. Sugar is added too the base along with a mix of herbs, fruits or spices depending on the desired result and flavor. You will often see liqueurs with a specific flavor profile, such as curacao (orange) or creme de framboise (raspberry). Other liqueurs are more of a blend of flavors, like Campari, Drambuie and Tuaca.
There are distinct classes of liqueurs, such as absinthe, amaretto, curacao, Irish cream, and triple sec, for which a variety of brands are available. Then, there are proprietary blends protected by specific brands and known only by the brand's name. The recipes of some of these liqueurs, like Averna, Benedictine, Chartreuse and Frangelico, date back centuries and are as popular today as they ever were. And yet, others (like Hpnotiq, PAMA, TY KU, and X-Rated) are new on the scene and are just as unique in their recipes.
- Learn more about individual liqueurs: Learn Your Liqueurs
- Browse liqueur cocktail recipes (recipes with no base spirits)