While beer, whiskey and vodka may summon to mind crowded bars and rowdy crowds, liqueurs such as amaretto, Kahlua and Bailey”s conjure a more refined setting, such as a fancy restaurant or an elegant party.
Liqueurs are friendly drinks that go down smooth due to their higher sugar content. Unlike other types of alcohol, liqueurs will never leave you gasping for air or wearing that bug-eyed tequila face familiar to so many.
What is a Liqueur?
Liqueurs are sweet and, at times, creamy. They can stand alone, be mixed in cocktails and are often flavored with fruits, herbs and spices. The word liqueur comes from the Latin word liquifacere, which means “to dissolve.” This refers to the dissolving of the flavorings used to make the liqueur.
Liqueurs date back centuries and are historical descendants of herbal medicines. They were made in Italy as early as the 13th century. Today, liqueurs are made worldwide and are served in many ways:
- by themselves
- during cooking (especially when chefs are making desserts)
- poured over ice
- with coffee
- with cream
- with other juices or alcohols (to create cocktails).
Types of Liqueurs: From Amaretto to Jagermeister
A bottle of fine liqueur makes the perfect gift when attending a dinner party. Liqueurs are typically served after dinner, accompanying dessert or along with coffee. Below is a list of some popular liqueurs, along with several cocktail recipes you may wish to try.
Amaretto is a sweet, almond-flavored liqueur of Italian origin. It is made from a base of apricot or almond pits, or sometimes both, with added spices and flavors. Amaretto may be served neat, on the rocks or with cola or juice.
The Alabama Slammer is a tasty drink containing amaretto and sloe gin, two popular liqueurs. Here”s how to make it:
- 1 oz. Southern Comfort
- 1 oz. amaretto
- ? oz. sloe gin
- a dash of lemonade juice.
Pour each liquid (in the order listed above) over ice in a highball glass and enjoy.
Curacao is a general term for orange-flavored liqueur made from the dried peel of bitter oranges found on the Caribbean island of Curacao. While the color of curacao liqueur can be orange, blue or green, all colors have the same flavor.
Kirschwasser and Barenjager
Kirschwasser, or Kirsch, is a brandy made from sweet or sour cherries. In Germany, where it originated, Kirschwasser is served after dinner at room temperature.
Barenjager is another German liqueur. This honey-flavored liqueur is based on vodka and was developed in Eastern Prussia in the late 15th century.
Coffee liqueurs are simply liqueurs flavored with coffee. Kahlua, the most ubiquitous brand name in coffee liqueurs, can be drunk straight or as part of dozens of cocktails, such as White Russians or the colorfully named Screaming Orgasm.
The White Russian contains some hard alcohol with plenty of sweet tones to hide any pungent, bitter flavors. It”s a popular starter drink. Since not all bartenders are familiar with how to make White Russians, consider learning the recipe in case you want to enjoy this tasty cocktail out on the town.
White Russian Recipe
- 2 oz. vodka
- 1 oz. coffee liqueur
- light cream.
Pour vodka and liqueur over ice, fill with light cream and serve.
Chocolate liqueurs taste like chocolate and are most commonly made from crme de cacao. Keep in mind that crme (or cream) liqueur is alcohol with a lot of additional sugar added, giving it almost a syrupy consistency. Godiva liqueur is a chocolate liqueur produced by Godiva Chocolatier. Two versions are available: One made from white chocolate and one from dark chocolate.
Herbal liqueurs, such as Jagermeister, are made with as many as 50 different herbs. Their exact ingredients are usually trade secrets. A simple but devastating drink made from a popular herbal liqueur is the aptly named Jager Bomb, a mix of Jagermeister and an energy drink, such as Red Bull.
Drambuie, Yukon Jack and Irish Mist are popular whiskey liqueurs, which are made from whiskey, flavored with herbs and sometimes honey.
Sloe gin is a red-colored liqueur flavored with sloe berries. To make this liqueur, gin is infused with the berries, along with sugar to ensure the juices are extracted from the fruit.
More Popular Liqueurs
Chambord Liqueur is made from black raspberries, blackberries, honey, vanilla and cognac. The Chambord Daiquiri is a great blender drink.
Chambord Daiquiri Recipe
- oz. Chambord raspberry liqueur
- oz. light rum
- ? oz. lime juice
- 1 tbsp. powdered sugar
Blend with one cup of crushed ice in a shaker or blender for 30 seconds. Strain into a champagne saucer, and serve.
Starbucks Coffee Liqueur
You can”t order it in your local Starbucks, but Starbucks coffee liqueur is sold in bars, restaurants and liquor stores.
Espresso Martini Recipe
- 1 oz. Starbucks coffee liqueur
- 2 oz. Stoli Vanilla vodka
- 2 oz. espresso.
Pour coffee liqueur, vodka and espresso into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled Martini (cocktail) glass and serve. The drink should be slightly frothy.
Now that you”re ready to go out and explore the world of liqueurs, you may want to be aware that the lower alcohol content in liqueurs is often a mixed blessing. While you can consume more at the time without getting as drunk, the massive sugar intake and resulting crash may leave you with a blinding headache the next morning.