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What is a Liqueur, some call them cordials, or schnapps?

The word is derived from the Latin Liquefacere, which means to melt or dissolve. This refers to the way in which brandy or whisky is flavored. Liqueurs are distilled spirit-based drink that are further blended with natural flavors. Historically they were used as an herbal medicine, today they are often served as a dessert after a meal.

Some say it all began with the Egyptians who made a spirit flavored with honey and cinnamon. By the mid 1200’s, alchemist Vilanova, wrote in the Boke of Wine, how distilled wine flavored with various herbs and spices had ‘life-giving’ properties. Albertus Magnus about the same time clearly described the process of distilling spirits. This began to be used medicinally for prolonging life, clearing away ill-humor, reviving the heart, and maintaining youth.

The 1500’s saw an increased demand for Liqueurs throughout Europe, but primarily still for medical purposes. A variety of flavors available to add to the spirit-based liqueur increased due with the opening of the British-Indian spice trade route in the mod 1600’s. New flavors, such as ginger, orange, and chocolate.

Today it can be tricky to distinguish between and Liqueur and Liquor, due to the rise of flavored traditional spirits. The main rule of thumb is that liqueurs tend to be sweeter and thicker and usually have less alcohol content. (of course, there are exceptions).

Today, we have a wide selection of Liqueurs to choose from. There is something for every taste preference. Try something new today in honor of this age-old libation.


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