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Learn Your Liqueurs - A-C Liqueurs

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Liquor bottles behind a bar

Liquor bottles behind a bar

Mitsuhiro Ouchi / a.collectionRF / Getty Images
Chambord Raspberry Liqueur

Chambord Raspberry Liqueur

Photo Credit: © Shannon Graham

As you explore the index of cocktail recipes you will find many of them use liqueurs, or cordials, that you are probably not familiar with. Names like Drambuie, Cointreau and Benedictine appear often and then there are the crème liqueurs. What are all of these, what flavors do they add to cocktails and can one be substituted for another? These are all questions that are answered in the descriptions of the most common liqueurs below.

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  • Abisante- Pale green, anise-flavored liqueur. Turns opalescent when dripped slowly over ice. Replacement for absinthe.
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  • Absinthe- An anise-flavored liqueur that was originally 136 proof and was outlawed for years in most countries. Abisante, Pernod and Herbsaint can be used to replace absinthe in cocktail recipes.
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  • Advocaat- A liqueur from Holland made of egg yolks, brandy, sugar and vanilla that is often enjoyed straight or on the rocks.
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  • Agavero- A tequila-based liqueur flavored with the Damiana flower. It was created in 1857, uses a blend of 100% blue agave anejo and reposado tequilas that have been aged in French Limousin oak. It is popular to drink straight, on the rocks, or in cocktails such as the Bésame Cocktail.
    Agavero website...
     
  • Amaretto- An almond flavored liqueur made with apricot pits. This liqueur is commonly paired with a coffee liqueur in drinks like a Toasted Almond or used as a smooth liqueur in shooters like the Alabama Slammer.
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  • Amer Picon- A bitter French aperitif that can be hard to find, particularly in the United States. It has a distinct orange taste.
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  • Aperol- An Italian aperitif produced from a recipe developed in 1919. Its primary flavor is orange but also includes rhubarb, chinchona, genziana along with other "secret" herbs. Used in many cocktails including Rimbaud's Left Hand and Rhyme & Reason.
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  • Averna- An Italian bitter liqueur (or amaro) still produced from the original 1868 recipe of herbs, roots and citrus rinds with natural caramel for sweetness. The liqueur is a favorite digestif in Italy and is often served on the rocks, but it also makes a great mixer for cocktails.
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  • Barenjaeger- A honey-flavored liqueur produced in Germany whose beginnings were in medieval Europe.
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  • Benai- An American version of Benedictine.
     
  • Benedictine- Made of herbs, roots and sugar with a Cognac base. Try Benedictine in a B&B.
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  • Blackberry Liqueur, Blackberry-flavored Brandy- The flavored brandy is sweeter than the liqueur and makes a wonderful blackberry sour.
    Find blackberry cocktails...
     
  • Butterscotch Liqueur, Butterscotch Schnapps- A liqueur made from a mix of butter and brown sugar that tastes like butterscotch candy. Sometimes referred to as Buttershots (brand name produced by DeKuyper).
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  • Cacao Mit Nuss- Crème de cacao with a hazelnut flavor.
     
  • Campari- A bitter Italian apèritif made with a unique blend of herbs and spices with orange being the dominant flavor. The secret recipe was originally developed by Gaspare Campari in 1860 for his Cafè Campari in Milan. Campari is often served on the rocks either by itself or mixed with club soda and is also a key ingredient in many apèritif cocktails such as Negroni and Americano.
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  • Chambord- A liqueur that dates back to 1685 when Louis XIV visited Château de Chambord. Chambord is produced in the Loire valley in France and is made from red and black raspberries, honey, vanilla, and cognac.
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  • Chartreuse- An herbal liqueur produced by Carthusian monks in the French Alps. It is available as either Green or Yellow Chartreuse and as a special V.E.P. bottling of both varieties, which is aged for a longer period of time.
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  • Cherry Heering- A naturally flavored cherry liqueur from Denmark that is used in a variety of cocktails.
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  • Cherry liqueur- A tart fruit accent made of cherries and pits. A great on the rocks sipper as well. Also see maraschino liqueur...
     
  • Cinnamon Schnapps- An often clear, higher proof distilled spirit that is flavored with cinnamon and used often in cocktails and shooters.
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  • Coffee liqueur, Crème de Café- Coffee-flavored liqueur. The most popular coffee liqueur is the Mexican Kahlua. Others include Tia Maria from Jamaica, Expresso from dark-roasted Italian coffee, crème de café , and Pasha from Turkey. Any of the coffee liqueurs are great served ice-cold with heavy cream floating on top and are popular ingredients in a variety of cocktails.
    Find coffee cocktails
     
  • Cointreau- A brand name orange-flavored liqueur that is considered a premium triple sec.
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  • Crème d' Abricots, Apricot Liqueur, Apry- Cream of apricot liqueur from France. Luscious when drizzled in a Champagne flute over cracked ice. Find it in cocktails like the Apricot Sunray and UK Sour.
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  • Crème d' Almond- A pink liqueur flavored with almonds and fruit stones. Similar to crème de noyaux.
     
  • Crème de Bananes, Banana Liqueur- Cream of banana liqueur that is usually quite sweet and is true to the fruit's flavor.
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  • Crème de Cacao- Cacao (chocolate) and vanilla bean based liqueur. Available in both white and brown varieties. The white is used in a Grasshopper while the brown is used in an Alexander.
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  • Crème de Cassis- A sweet, low-proof liqueur made from French blackcurrants. It can be found in cocktails such as the Chimayo, Vermouth Cassis, Kir, and Cardinal Cocktail, and is often paired with wine.
     
  • Crème de Cerise- A sweet cherry-flavored liqueur.
     
  • Crème de Coconut, Coconut Liqueur, Batida de Coco- Sweet coconut-flavored liqueurs, typically with a rum base. Batida de coco is a creamy liqueur, others are usually clear, though some are creamy as well.
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  • Crème de Framboise- A crème liqueur with a raspberry flavor.
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  • Crème de Menthe- This sweet liqueur flavored with mint leaves and is either white (clear) or green.
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  • Crème de Mûre - A sweet blackberry-flavored liqueur.
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  • Crème de Noyaux- A pink liqueur has a distinct almond flavor and is made with the stones of plums, cherries, peaches and apricots. This is not a very common liqueur, but is found in cocktails such as the Pink Squirrel.
     
  • Crème de Violette- A purple violet flavored liqueur that was commonly used in classic cocktails such as the Aviation Cocktail. It lost some of its popularity because of import issues until the late 1990's and has since become a favorite ingredient for reviving the classics and using in modern creations. The most popular brand is Rothman & Winter. Other cocktails include the Armani Signature Code and Eagle Cocktail.
     
  • Curaçao- Made of the dried peels of laraha oranges and was the original orange liqueur, used in many classic cocktails. Normally it is orange in color but can also be white, blue or green.
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  • Cynar- An artichoke-based bitter liqueur that was launched in 1952. Despite its base, it does not have the distinct flavor of the artichoke because it also includes a blend of thirteen herbs and plants. The aperitif is commonly paired with orange juice and soda or tonic and has been used in a number of modern cocktails including Fall from Grace, Game Set Match, Happily Ever After, and Warm Fuzzies.
    Cynar website...

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