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Liqueurs: A comprehensive guide to a versatile beverage

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24/09/2021 For something so widely available, it surely is an interesting and sometimes confusing topic for the unacquainted. Let's understand liqueurs a little bit better in this article.

With a long and ancient history, liqueurs have been consumed for centuries. Descendants of herbal medicines, liqueurs are said to have been originated in Italy, often prepared by monks.

Today, liqueurs are produced worldwide and can be found in most bars, restaurants, and hotels. For most general consumers and cocktail enthusiasts, liqueurs are also a household item.

For something so widely available, it surely is an interesting and sometimes confusing topic for the unacquainted. Let's understand liqueurs a little bit better in this article.

Liqueur

Liqueurs vs. Liquors

Over the years, these 2 terms have been easily confused but are actually quite different. 

Liquor, the more common of the two, is simply the term used to describe a distilled beverage. Gin, rum, vodka, whisky, are all liquors. With a comparatively higher ABV content, liquors are typically ‘not sweet’, even when flavored.

Liqueurs on the other hand are sweet in nature, unlike liquors which have a strong flavor that is anything but sweet. Liquors such as brandy, rum, and whisky, can actually be used as a base spirit for liqueurs, which is one of the major reasons for the confusion between the two, apart from the similar names. Liqueurs are basically sweetened and diluted forms of liquor.

Liqueurs come in a vast variety of flavors and sub-categories ranging from citrus fruit to coffee to herbs, honey, sweet, creamy, and everything in between.

Liqueurs usually have a lower alcohol content (15–30% ABV)  than other distilled spirits. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule such as Chartreuse, a French liqueur that has been made by the Carthusian Monks since 1737.  

Usage:

Liqueurs win hearts because of how versatile in nature they are. They can be used as mixers in mixed drinks, drank straight, served neat, with ice, in coffee, or even added to non-alcoholic beverages such as milk or cream.

Many liqueurs are also used in baking and cooking and a few of our favorite spirits have even become necessary dessert ingredients.

Liqueurs are sometimes also added to cocktails to provide flavor. Mixologists around the world genuinely love to experiment with the sweet taste of liqueurs to create some beautiful concoctions.

Another great usage of liqueurs is in making layered drinks. We want to keep these separate from cocktails because they deserve their own limelight here. Made by floating different-colored liqueurs in separate layers, these layered drinks indeed provide an aesthetic touch to a drink.

B-52 cocktail Shots - Layered drink

Each liqueur is poured slowly into a glass over the back of a spoon or down a glass rod, so that the liquids of different densities remain unmixed, creating a striped effect.

Liqueurs post-covid

The role of liqueurs post-covid has indeed been a prominent one, with people all over the world getting creative with their cocktails and indulging in home mixology courses. Alcohol policy in the US saw a major transformation during the COVID era, with to-go cocktails and liqueur sales observing a steady rise. 

Liqueurs have consistently been a sort of support system to the hospitality industry, being a complementary product that helps to cater to a niche audience that doesn’t necessarily prefer the taste or strength of traditional spirits or to those who just like to experiment with their drinks.

That being said, let’s take a quick look at some trending liqueurs of 2021 which were handpicked by a panel of leading bartenders and on-premise buyers based on 3 primary criteria, their Quality, Value for Money, and Packaging.

Here are the 13 trending liqueur categories that bartenders should stock up:

1. Aniseed

Bartender's suggestion for you:

Mount Rigi - 83 points

Mount Rigi Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Aromas of juicy mandarin, cherries, and a touch of honey. Nicely balanced, with a pronounced sweetness.

Producer Name: Distillerie Mount Rigi
Country: Switzerland

2. Cassis

Bartender's suggestion for you:

Jahiot - 78 points

Jahiot Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Beautiful nose with flavors of cassis and berries. Luscious body with an elegant display of cassis.

Producer Name: DOMAINE JACQUIOT
Country: France

3. Citrus Fruit

Bartender's suggestions for you:

Magdala Orange Liqueur - 90 points

Magdala Orange Liqueur Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Enticing subtle orange notes lead into more sweet and bitter citrus tones on the palate.

Producer Name: Infinium Spirits
Country: Spain

Accompani Crimson Snap - 92 points

Accompani Crimson Snap Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Tree bark and smoked herbs with a bitter citrus. On the palate flavors of bitter citrus and a touch of honey sweetness.

Producer Name: Bottle & Press, LLC
Country: United States

Accompani Mari Gold - 92 points

Accompani Mari Gold Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Subtle dried orange and light spice on the nose. Flavors move into olive oil and citrus and ginger. Perfect for a twist on any citrus cocktail.

Producer Name: Bottle & Press, LLC
Country: United States

Maennerhobby Zitronenlikör - 84 points

Maennerhobby Zitronenlikör Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

The nose is very bright and there is an odd note to it. On the palate overwhelming citrus notes with a lemon candy aftertaste.

Producer Name: Erste Maennerhobby GmbH & Co. KG
Country: Germany

4. Coffee

Bartender's suggestions for you:

Galliano Ristretto - 91 points

Galliano Ristretto Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Flavors of dark chocolate, blueberries, and pipe tobacco. On the palate notes of toasted nuts and brown sugar linger through the finish.

Producer Name: Lucas Bols USA
Country: Italy

5. Flavoured Cream

Bartender's suggestions for you:

Southern Star Double Shot Bourbon Cream Liqueur - 85 points

Southern Star Double Shot Bourbon Cream Liqueur

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Tasting Notes:

Aromas of coffee upfront lead into a more nutty and creamy palate. Finishes with flavors of caramel and toffee.

Producer Name: Southern Distilling Company
Country: United States

Strawberry Dream Sippin' Cream - 74 points

Strawberry Dream Sippin' Cream Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Smells like strawberry pie. On the palate, flavors burst with ripe strawberries and vanilla. Would go great in a sweeter dessert-style cocktail.

Producer Name: Sugarlands Distilling Co.
Country: United States

Banana Pudding Sippin' Cream - 76 points

Banana Pudding Sippin' Cream Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Aromas of caramelized bananas on the nose. Bursting with flavors of vanilla wafers and whipped cream.

Producer Name: Sugarlands Distilling Co.
Country: United States

Caramel Creams Liqueur - 89 points

Caramel Creams Liqueur Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Aromas of caramel, nutmeg, cream, and cinnamon. Balanced and would make a great mixer in cocktails.

Producer Name: Lost Ark Distilling Company
Country: United States

6. Fruit

Bartender's suggestions for you:

Ginja9 Portuguese Sour Cherry Liqueur - 88 points

Ginja9 Portuguese Sour Cherry Liqueur Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

A perfect cherry liqueur. Captured the essence of cherries with balance and finesse.

Producer Name: Earth Delicacies LLC
Country: Portugal

Maraschino Liqueur - 78 points

Maraschino Liqueur Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Cherry and floral notes marry in this liquor with sweetness. Great for cocktails.

Producer Name: Maraska
Country: Croatia

Patique Cherry Liqueur - 80 points

Patique Cherry Liqueur Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Pretty expression of cherry in a balanced liqueur. Fruit notes come off authentic and without having any sweetness imbalance.

Producer Name: Patique, LLC.
Country: United States

Aloha Spirit Liqueur Lilikoi - 78 points

Aloha Spirit Liqueur Lilikoi Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Nectar-like in mouthfeel and viscosity. The flavor of passionfruit mixes with a multitude of spirits for tropical bar offerings.

Producer Name: RHS L.L.C Distillery
Country: United States

7. Herb

Bartender's suggestions for you:

Amaro Di Angostura - 94 points

Amaro Di Angostura Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Driven by spices like coriander and anise. Flavors of licorice and dark berries combine a wonderfully balanced addition to a classic cocktail.

Producer Name: ANGOSTURA LIMITED
Country: Trinidad and Tobago

Galliano L'autentico - 89 points

Galliano L'autentico Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Balanced, complex, and layered.

Producer Name: Lucas Bols USA
Country: Italy

Ginrosa - 93 points

Ginrosa Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Nice and balanced with a bitter and complex palate. Could be mixed in a cocktail or on ice.

Producer Name: Specialty Cellars
Country: Italy

Accompani (Flora Green) - 85 points

Accompani (Flora Green) Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Extremely herbal and flavors of botanicals. Would be great in a whiskey cocktail.

Producer Name: Bottle & Press, LLC
Country: United States

Amaro Santoni - 84 points

Amaro Santoni Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Silky and smooth with notes of clove and citrus on the palate. Rhubarb and herbs come through on the finish.

Producer Name: Gabriello Santoni SRL
Country: Italy

8. Spice

Bartender's suggestions for you:

Golden Falernum - 90 points

Golden Falernum Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Flavors of ginger and honey on the palate. A nice blend of spices with tones of citrus.

Producer Name: The Bitter Truth
Country: Germany

9. Nut

Bartender's suggestions for you:

Andean Cream - 87 points

Andean Cream Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Aromas of vanilla lead into flavors of toasted hazelnuts. Creamy on the palate.

Producer Name: Don Michael SAC
Country: Peru

Sir Almond - 73 points

Sir Almond Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Almond notes up front with a rather sweet palate. Easily mixable in a cocktail.

Producer Name: Valle del Marta di Pusceddu Mario
Country: Italy

Orahovac (Green Walnut Liqueur) - 85 points

Orahovac (Green Walnut Liqueur)

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Tasting Notes:

Nuances of chocolate and nuts lead into flavors of toasted walnuts. Would be a great mixer with whiskey.

Producer Name: Maraska
Country: Croatia

10. Floral

Bartender's suggestions for you:

Accompani (Blue Dorris) - 86 points

Accompani (Blue Dorris) Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Extremely floral and aromatic. Balanced, complex, and layered and would stand out in any cocktail.

Producer Name: Bottle & Press, LLC
Country: United States

Grand Poppy Amaro - 90 points

Grand Poppy Amaro Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Aromas of potpourri and honey. Perfectly balanced between floral and bitter with citrus undertones.

Producer Name: Greenbar Distilling
Country: United States

11. Whisky Based

Bartender's suggestions for you:

Stroma Malt Whisky Liqueur - 82 points

Stroma Malt Whisky Liqueur Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Aromas of melted caramel, nutmeg, and peaches. On the palate notes of honey and lemon come through with a sea salt finish.

Producer Name: Old Pulteney
Country: United Kingdom

12. Honey

Bartender's suggestions for you:

Perun Honey - 73 points

Perun Honey Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Sweet honey on the nose leads into a honeyed flavor on the palate. Could be used in a Bee's Knee's cocktail!

Producer Name: BZ Consortium LLC
Country: Serbia

13. Lemon

Bartender's suggestions for you:

Basbas - 72 points

Basbas Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Herbal footprint is nuanced. A good mixer.

Producer Name: Holy Seed Beverage Co.
Country: Spain

Pallini Limoncello - 89 points

Pallini Limoncello Tasting Notes

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Tasting Notes:

Bright lemon zest on the nose leading into a luscious rich palate. A lovely limoncello that is balanced and full-bodied.

Producer Name: Lucas Bols USA
Country: Italy