What is a Liqueur?

What is the difference between a fruit brandy & a fruit liqueur?

Is a crème a liqueur? The answer? They are all liqueurs - but then they’re NOT [ha ha].

There is a resurgence of interest in all things 'cocktail' and of course liqueurs and its variants are a vital ingredient. I am aware that it can seem a bit of a mine-field understanding the different types and styles and just how they can influence a particular cocktail recipe.

What is a Liqueur?
With this in mind I have set out below the different names, styles and terms used so hopefully it is a little clearer to understand. They are listed in 4 categories.

LIQUEURS - a 'spirit that has been flavoured & sweetened. Mostly made from an established, often secret, recipe, each having its own unique flavour. Made by taking a distillate spirit as a  base and steeping / macerating the ingredients and sweetening by the addition of sugar syrup. The recipe may often include flavouring such as citrus fruit, herbs, spices & even barks from trees, as in the following examples: Drambuie [whisky & orange based] / Grand Marnier [Brandy & orange based] / Chartreuse [clean spirit & many herbs]. These are usually from 28% - 40% ABV

FRUIT SPIRITS - This is a single fruit variety distilled again and sweetened, mostly produced clear, such as Triple Sec [from oranges] or Kirsch [from cherries]. This can also include Marc or Grappa [sometimes called pomace brandy] which uses the pressings from wine and can vary a great deal in quality from good to quite horrid.

FRUIT BRANDY - Fruit is taken and macerated in a grape spirit to add flavour and colour. Here the syrup content is high and the finished drink much sweeter, e.g. Cherry Brandy or Mandarine Napoleon.

CRÈME - these are 15% - 25% ABV and the best ones are made from soaking the fruit in a spirit from the same fruit but can also be made from a 'plain spirit' base. These are ideal when wanting a rich fruit flavour.

Quick fun with Liqueurs

KIR - this is classically made with Crème de Cassis [blackcurrant] but I love it with Mure [blackberry]. Put about a small teaspoon in a wine glass and fill up with crisp dry white wine

KIR ROYALE - as above but using a good 'fizz' - 'Spumante' Prosecco is quite lovely

CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL - actually I never use proper champagne for this. It's not a cost matter, simply that the acidity in champagne is not right. For me a really good fizz is usually better, something around £10 / £15 a bottle

Triple Sec
Brandy - need not be fancy
Sugar lumps - enough for 1 lump per glass
Angostura Bitters

Method - if possible 3 or 4 hours before you want them 'splash' [not soak] the sugar lumps with Bitters in a small dish - do watch out as any clothing stain is permanent - cover until wanted.

Into a flute glass put a single prepared sugar lump. Pour a small teaspoon, each, of Triple Sec & brandy into the flute, fill up with fizz & enjoy!

DAIQUIRI - including fruit style
Ingredients; shown as a 'measure' where one 25ml

2 x White rum - try Cachaça which is still from Cane but lighter
0.50 x Fresh lime juice
0.25 Sugar Syrup [Gomme sirop]
1 x 'Crème of choice' - Fraise [strawberry] is fun but try others
Fruit to match Crème - 'muddled' [not quite pulped]

Put all together in a cocktail shaker with ice - shake vigorously and strain into cocktail glass - decorate - drink & SMILE

Well that's it folk - have some fun and enjoy it -
Do watch out as these are so easy to drink they can 'answer back ' later-ha ha