Lower in alcohol than straight spirits, these tasty tipples are sweetened spirits infused with fruits, flowers, herbs, nuts, and/or spices--sometimes even bark, roots, and leaves.
The word "liqueur" comes from the Latin Liquefacere, which means the process of dissolving something in liquid. Cordial, on the other hand, comes from the Latin word for heart, "cor." Whether you call it cordial or liqueur, both words describe the same thing: an alcoholic beverage in which spirits have been steeped, percolated, brewed, or macerated with some kind of flavor-giving substance like fruits, herbs, and flowers, and then sweetened. Some people more narrowly define a cordial as a liqueur made specifically from fruit or fruit juice.
What's the Main Ingredient?
Here are some classic liqueurs and their main flavor-infusing ingredients. Some are centuries old and made from top-secret formulas.
Bailey's Irish Cream: Whiskey/cream
Chambord: Black raspberry
Crème de Cacao: Chocolate
Crème de Cassis: Currant
Crème de Menthe: Mint
Curacao: Bitter orange
Cointreau: Sour and sweet oranges
SambuccaRomano: Elder bush
Triple Sec: Bitter and sweet oranges
Liqueurs make delicious and beautiful cocktails. Here are some of our favorites.