Liqueurs. Cordials. Schnapps. Whatever you call them in your part of the country, celebrate them each year on October 16 for National Liqueur Day.
First, let’s get something straight. All liqueurs are liquors… but not all liquors are liqueurs! So what exactly is a liqueur?
Liqueurs are distilled spirits that have been incorporated with flavorings from sugar, fruits, herbs, or spices. A descendent of Italian herbal medicines, today’s liqueurs are required to contain plant materials and sweeteners equal to at least 2.5% of the finished product.
Liqueurs are typically sweet—making them a popular after-dinner drink. But their diversity of flavors make them essential cocktail companions. And, because of their density, they can be poured over the back of a spoon and layered with other liqueurs, or on top of cocktails, for interesting visual effects—as in the B-52.
So… with so many liqueurs out there, where to begin? Here’s a list of five of the most popular and sought-after liqueurs on the market today, and some suggestions for incorporating them into cocktails worth celebrating:
Campari is a bitter amaro liqueur that has been a staple among bartenders and mixologists since it was introduced in the early 1900s. The signature, bright red spirit is an essential ingredient in the classic Negroni, or the refreshing Italian Campari and Soda.
Kahlúa is the world’s best-selling coffee liqueur—and the star of the classic White Russian cocktail. It’s creamy mouthfeel and nutty aromas lend a smooth, caffeinated twist to a martini.
Cointreau is an orange-flavored liqueur with bitter and sweet flavors that have made it a bartender’s best friend—the International Bartender’s Association recognizes Cointreau as an ingredient in more than 350 cocktails. Try Cointreau in the Prohibition-favorite Sidecar, Cosmopolitan, or traditional Margarita!
St-Germain is a liqueur that’s flavored with elderflowers, giving it a delicate, floral profile that compliments… well almost anything, lending it the nickname “bartender’s ketchup.” We’re fans of the easy-drinking St-Germain Spritz.
Chartreuse—the world’s only naturally green liqueur—has been made by monks in the Carthusian mountains since the 1600s. The coveted spirit contains more than 130 botanicals! Its pungent, uniquely herbal profile—which continues to mature in the bottle—has made it popular among collectors and mixologists. Here are a dozen Chartreuse cocktails to try!
These popular liqueurs are only the tip of the iceberg. From Cherry Heering to Ancho Reyes, from Crème de Menthe to Crème de Violette, there’s a whole world of liqueurs just waiting to be explored. National Liqueur Day may not be long enough… you may need a year! Cheers!
National Liqueur Day is typically celebrated