First, let’s identify liqueur. As it is different from liquor.
Liqueur is an alcoholic beverage made from a distilled spirit such as vodka, rum or gin flavored with the likes of fruit, cream, herbs, spices, flowers, Nuts and additional sugar.
Something to note: a final liqueur is made up of 25% sugar. Avoiding carbs? Avoid liqueur.
Essentially, it is alcohol and plants.
The name comes from the French word, liquifacere, meaning to liquify.
As this meaning implies, liqueur is blended long enough for the flavors to marry. There is no aging involved.
Originally, it was used as an herbal medicine in Italy in the 1300s. As a digestive, for example.
Monks were generally known to prepare them. Imagine dropping in to your local monastery for some feel good beverages!
Liqueur is also known as a Cordial or Schnapps. However, the Commonwealth of Nations considers it a concentrated non-alcoholic fruit syrup, such as the bar-essential grenadine or a Cherry Cordial.
Germany and the Scandinavian regions refer to brandy or aquavit as Schnapps.
No wonder it gets confusing!
To add to the confusion, distilleries are adding flavors to their products which can adjust the ABV or the amount of sugar.
The Difference (excluding flavored liquors)
|Distilled alcohol is the base to which spices, herbs, fruit, nuts, anything plant-based really, and sugar (usually lots of it!) are added.||Is first fermented from a grain or a plant then distilled.|
|Very sweet since a form of sugar is added (honey, molasses, glucose, etc).||Not sweet tasting because any natural sugar is turns into ethanol and carbon dioxide during fermentation.|
|Lower alcohol content, due to the addition of sugar – most are minimum 20% ABV.||Higher alcohol content – usually about 40% ABV or higher.|
|Syrupy consistency.||Watery substance.|
In a nutshell, the succession is as follows:
Liquor (Base Grain) → Bitters (+Herb/Spice) → Liqueur (+Sugar)
This brings me to my Big Experiment of the year. The Bitters. A few months ago, I began the infusion of various liquors with plant based products, for example, apricots and bourbon.
The result is a softened tasting bourbon and some very potent apricots! Based on the above principles, I added an ounce of vodka and a spoonful of honey. Voila, a homemade liqueur! Notice the change in transparency (see below). Pure Apple Cider is also added to make it into a delicious fall beverage.
Anise is a very fascinating liqueur. In its plain form, it is clear. Add water and watch the change. It becomes cloudy. The licorice oil
remains within at the high concentration level when it is sold. As soon as the alcohol concentration changes, it reacts, crystallize get. This is referred to as the ouzo effect. Not to be confused with actual Ouzo.
Fun With Liqueur
1. Shoot it straight up
2. Sip it with ice after dinner.
3. Layer it into a work of art.
4. Try Advocaat for a different edge. They use non-plant additions: egg yolks. Think egg nog (ish)
ABV = alcohol by volume
Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on October 16, 2017