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Cordials & Liqueurs: What’s the Difference?

Take out your notepad and dust off your bar cart, we’re breaking down the need-to-know in the world of liqueurs and cordials.

Liqueurs or cordials are a pretty important part of any cocktail or bar. Whether you have them in your home bar or not, we can pretty much guarantee that you’ve ordered a cocktail with a liqueur or two as an ingredient. But what makes a liqueur or cordial, how are they different and how do you define them? If you’re curious – buckle up because we’re about to give you a crash course in all things liqueur.

The difference between cordials and liqueurs.

You may be thinking that a liqueur is just a sweetened liquor. If so, you’re ri-, well, you’re half right. Liqueurs at their core, are basically liquors that have been flavored and sweetened. But, if we’re getting specific here, which we are, a liqueur is defined as a “beverage distilled spirit flavored with fruit, cream, herbs, spices, flowers or nuts, and is bottled with added sugars and other sweeteners.” 

But long story short, you get the picture. As far as cordials are concerned, they’re actually the same thing. It’s just another name for liqueurs…with one exception. Isn’t that always the case? If you live in the UK, a cordial can refer to a sweet, non-alcoholic liquid. But, since we’re an alcohol delivery company and all, we’re talking about the liqueurs and cordials in the boozy sense.

How are liqueurs made?

Getting to know how a liqueur is made is actually pretty important to understanding what a liqueur is. Liqueurs start as a base spirit and then, the cream, spices, herbs or nuts are brought in with some more sugar or sweeteners to create the liqueurs flavor profile and BOOM. Liqueur

A few examples of a “base spirit” are brandy, gin, rum, tequila, vodka and whiskey. The desired flavor profile of the liqueur will decide which base spirit to use and how to add flavoring. There are four methods that can be used to give liqueurs their flavor: infusion, extraction, distillation and smoking.

Pretty much however you like. Like spirits, liqueurs can be used in cocktails, served neat, over ice or with non-alcoholic beverages. Many liqueurs are used as aperitifs and digestifs, or even as an added ingredient when cooking. Someone, call Guy Fieri.

Liquors by flavor.

Listen, there are a LOT of liqueurs out there. And each one has flavors imparted differently and has so many unique attributes. So rather than going through every single liqueur in its entirety, we think it makes way more sense to show you by flavor profile.

Herbal And Spice

This is your cinnamony, ginger-flavored liqueur of the world. A few key players here are St- Germain, Chartreuse and Benedictine. This also includes dark liqueurs with secret recipes *cough* Jägermeister.

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