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Liqueur, Cordials, & Schnapps
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Liqueur & Schnapps
When thinking about all of the types of spirits out there, whiskey, vodka, tequila, gin and rum quickly come to mind. What's often less thought about are liqueurs and schanpps, despite the fact that few things as important to cocktail culture and have as long of a history as the two flavored spirits.
What are liqueurs
The category of liqueurs is broad, but in general a liqueur is a spirit — any spirit from whiskey to vodka to rum works — that's sweetened with sugar and natural or artificial flavoring. Some of the most popular flavors include orange, almond and coffee. Most of the commercial liqueurs on the market are lower in alcohol than a standard 40 percent ABV liquor, but there 's lots of variation from brand to brand.
Some of the most common brands you'll see include Grand Marnier, an orange and hazelnut liqueur, Disaronno, an almond liqueur, and Kahlúa, a coffee liqueur.
There are also herbal liqueurs that are made in a similar way, except with a focus on herbal notes. The most common example is Jägermeister, which is made with a blend of 56 different herbs and spices, and others include Sambuca, which has an anise flavor, and St. Germain, which is an elderflower liqueur.
What are Schnapps
When talking schnapps, there's a stark difference between German schnapps, where the spirit originated, and American schnapps.
German schnapps are made by fermenting fruit juices or herbs into a clear spirit. Nearly any fruit can be made into schnapps, but the most popular are mint, pear, apple, cherry and apricot. Some of the most common brands you'll see are Rumple Minze Peppermint Schnapps and Black Haus Blackberry Schnapps.
In America, schnapps are commonly made by mixing fruit flavors into neutral grain alcohol. Peach and peppermint are the most common flavors, and the American versions are usually sweeter and commonly used as mixers. Common brands include Dekuyper, which makes many different flavors, and 99, which makes flavors like banana and apple.
What's the difference
The main difference between liqueurs and schnapps is that liqueurs are generally sweeter. Due to the sweetness, liqueurs are most commonly mixed into cocktails whereas schnapps are traditionally taken straight with a meal. There are exceptions to every rule, however, and there are some liqueurs that are fine sipping alcohols and certain sweeter schnapps that blend well into cocktails.
What famous cocktails use liqueurs and schnapps
The cocktail world wouldn't be the same without liqueurs and schnapps. They add complexity and depth to drinks, and many classic cocktails rely on one or the other.
Some of the most famous cocktails that use liqueurs include the White Russian, which uses coffee liqueur, the Aviation, which uses creme de violette, and, perhaps most famously, the Margarita, which uses orange liqueur. In each of these cases, the cocktail would be completely out of balance without the liqueur.
On the schnapps front, many classic beach cocktails like the Sex on the Beach and the Fuzzy Navel use peach schnapps to add flavor to the drink. In many cases, schnapps can also take the place of liqueurs for a drier, less syrupy drink.
No matter if you want to drink it straight up or mixed into a cocktail, it's time you experimented with liqueurs and schnapps.