Are you interested in getting into the world of mixology, but feeling uncertain about the difference between liquor and liqueur?
If so, you’re not alone. With so many different types of alcohol to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. But don’t worry, we’re here to help.
In this blog post, we’ll break down the key differences between liquor and liqueur and give you a detailed look at the different types of each.
By the end of this post, you’ll have a better understanding of the world of mixology and the countless options available to you.
You will be able to confidently choose the right type of alcohol for your drink and impress your friends and family with your mixology skills.
Liquor vs Liqueur: What’s the Difference?
The simple difference between liquor and liqueur is that liquor is a distilled spirit, usually with 40% ABV, and liqueur is made by adding sugar and other ingredients to liquor to reduce ABV and create a certain complimentary flavor for mixed drinks.
When it comes to mixology, it’s important to understand the more nuanced differences between liquor and liqueur. Here are the main places both types of alcohol are different:
- Alcohol content: The most obvious difference between liquor and liqueur is the alcohol content. Liquor, also known as spirits, generally has a higher alcohol content than liqueur. Most liquors are around 40% alcohol by volume (ABV), while liqueurs are usually between 15% and 30% ABV.
- Composition: Another key difference between liquor and liqueur is their composition. Liquor is made from a fermented grain, fruit, or vegetable mash, while liqueur is made by adding sugar and flavorings to a distilled spirit.
- Purpose: The purpose of liquor is to provide a strong, potent alcohol kick, while the purpose of liqueur is to add sweetness and flavor to a drink.
- Fermentation: Liquor is made through a process of fermentation, where sugar is converted into alcohol. Liqueur, on the other hand, is made by adding sugar and flavorings to a distilled spirit, rather than through fermentation.
- Sugar / Flavorings: As mentioned, liqueur contains a significant amount of sugar and flavorings, while liquor does not.
The Main Types of Liquor
- Whiskey: Made from fermented grain mash. It comes in many different forms, including bourbon, Scotch, and Irish whiskey. Each type has its own unique characteristics and flavors and can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or in cocktails.
- Tequila: Made from the blue agave plant, primarily grown in the area surrounding the city of Tequila, and in the highlands (Los Altos) of the central Mexican state of Jalisco. It is often associated with margaritas and shots, but can also be enjoyed in a variety of other cocktails.
- Vodka: Made from fermented grain or potatoes. It is a clear, colorless liquid with a neutral taste, making it a popular choice for a wide range of cocktails, from martinis to cosmopolitans.
- Brandy: Made from distilled wine or other fermented fruit juice. It is aged in wooden barrels, which gives it a distinct flavor and color. It’s often used as a digestif, but also can be enjoyed in a variety of cocktails like brandy old fashioned or sidecar.
- Rum: Made from sugarcane juice or molasses. It is most commonly associated with Caribbean countries and is used in a variety of tropical drinks like Mai Tai, Daiquiri, and Pina Colada.
- Gin: Made from juniper berries and other botanicals. It has a distinct, juniper flavor and is a popular choice for gin and tonics, martinis and various other cocktails. Different types of gin will have different botanicals, so it’s worth trying different types to find your favorite.
The Main Types of Liqueur
- Amaro: Typically bitter and used as an after-dinner drink. It is made from a variety of herbs and spices and is a popular choice in Italy. Examples of amaro include Fernet-Branca, Averna, and Cynar.
- Amaretto: Sweet and almond-flavored. It is commonly used in cocktails and is a popular choice for adding flavor to coffee. It’s also often used in desserts and baking.
- Coffee: Made by infusing distilled spirits with coffee beans and often sweetened with sugar. It is a popular ingredient in many cocktails, such as a White Russian or Espresso Martini. Popular brands include Kahlua and Tia Maria.
- Schnapps: Typically flavored with fruit, such as peach or apple. It is usually sweeter than other types of liqueur and is a popular choice for shots.
- Citrus: Made by infusing distilled spirits with citrus fruits such as lemon or orange. It is commonly used in cocktails and adds a refreshing, tangy flavor. Popular examples include Cointreau and Grand Marnier.
- Cream: Made by infusing cream with distilled spirits. It is sweet and creamy and is often used in dessert cocktails. Examples include Bailey’s Irish Cream and Amarula.
- Herbal: Made by infusing herbs and spices with distilled spirits. It is often used as an after-dinner drink and has a unique and complex flavor. Examples include Chartreuse and Strega.
- Fruit: Made by infusing fruits such as berries, peaches, or apricots with distilled spirits. It is sweet and fruity and is often used in cocktails and desserts. Examples include Chambord and Midori.
Liqueur and Liquor Both Play a HUGE Role in Mixology
Both liquor and liqueur play a huge role in the creation of some of the best and most well-known drinks on the planet.
They offer a wide range of flavors, alcohol contents, and purposes, making them versatile ingredients for creating countless combinations of great drinks.
Understanding the differences between liquor and liqueur is essential for crafting the perfect cocktail.
And if you’re interested in making great drinks, click here to check out all of our mixologist-created recipes.