For commercial purposes (i.e. what you’re able to go out and buy yourselves) I’ll only be including liqueurs you can purchase on the UK market. Although this does not really reflect the list, as I do come from the UK and therefore am limited to these myself…
Possibly the sweetest liqueur on this list, Chambord Liqueur has one of the most ‘Royal’ beginnings too. It is said that King Louis XIV (that’s 15th for anyone who doesn’t know) visited Chateau Chambord and was presented with a Raspberry Liqueur that he loved. Well it is this liqueur that has inspired the spirit we all know and love: Chambord Liqueur. This world renowned black raspberry liqueur is a favourite of many of the modern mixologists ingredients.
This raspberry liqueur screams quality, and even the process shows it:
Using only the best raspberries (among other raspberry like berries) the fruit is then double infused and married with the other ingredients (and cognac wouldn’t you believe).
If this doesn’t scream enough quality the shape and design of the glass it comes in certainly covers any excess. Let’s face it, the French do romance and beauty better than any other country in the world and this liqueur is no different. From the minute you open a bottle you’re hit with the strong ‘raspberry jam donut’ fragrance supplied by the black raspberries. This to me makes it one of the best liqueurs, not just in Europe, but in the world.
Cocktail O’Clock: The Chambord French Martini
50ml Raspberry Vodka
15ml Chambord Liqueur
100ml Pineapple Juice
1) Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a large martini cocktail glass.
2) Garnish with some fresh raspberries.
9) Agwa Bolivia (coca)
I make no secret about my love affair with liqueurs/spirits with great stories. And why should this one be any different? Hint – it’s not.
Agwa De Bolivia is a dangerous and controversial liqueur. Dangerous in that What makes it so controversial is what it is made from: The Coca Leaf (that’s right, Coca as in Cocaine). There is nothing illegal about the use of the leaf, nor the consumption of this liqueur, however when it first came to be, it’s safe to say there were some shamefully shaking heads. But ignore them, because this liqueur is something special indeed.
Hand-picked to extremely high standards, the coca leaves are then transported (by armed guard) to Amsterdam where they are processed and infused until we get this almost florescent bottle of magic.
This liqueur is just a little different, a little crazy and a little controversial enough to not only be an instant hit across the globe, but to also interest people into making cocktails with it.
And that’s why it makes it onto this list.
Cocktail O’Clock: Agwa Berry Kiss
45ml Agwa de Bolivia coca leaf liqueur
150ml Italian Prosecco
Fresh Lime Juice (1/2 lime or round-abouts)
Fresh black berries and raspberries
1) Fill a fancy champagne flute with the chilled Prosecco.
2) Shake the lime juice and Agwa in a shaker, over ice.
3) Strain into the glass, over the Prosecco, watching it ripple through the sparkling wine.
4) Garnish with some fresh berries however you prefer (we like to skewer them, slicing them and putting them on the glass’ rim works too!)
That cocktail was courtesy of someone who’s had the pleasure of sampling and reviewing the liqueur first hand… Liquor Chick.
As the story goes Leonardo Da Vinci’s apprentice ‘Bernardino Luini’ was commissioned to paint a picture of ‘Madonna of the miracles in Saronno’ and in return for choosing an innkeeper to model as Madonna the young maiden innkeeper gave him a bottle of ‘golden liqueur’. Then later on this recipe was rediscovered and eventually sold as Disaronno.
Today Disaronno is among the most recognized of liqueurs across the planet. With a sweet Almond taste (imagine concentrated liquid marzipan being loosed upon your tastebuds) Disaronno is both perfect for drinking as is, or in well balanced cocktail.
Due to its carefully smooth texture and taste it can blend well with both the Neutral vodkas and white rums, but also well with the more flavourful tasting spirits like aged rum, Tequila and Gin.
Now this is something you do not often find in liqueurs, at least not an amaretto. Usually they are just good for aperitifs or as the base of a cocktail (where the other ingredients work around them). This however is different, and it’s for this reason it is my 3rd favourite liqueur.
A drink worth trying disaronno out with would be:
Cocktail O’Clock: Disaronno Jazzy Hour
½ measure Disaronno
1 measure Vodka
½ measure Tangerine Liqueur
1 measure Pineapple Juice
¼ measure Lemon Juice (about 5ml)
Shake all the ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail (martini) glass.
7) Pisa Liqueur
Pisa Liqueur is one of my all time favourite drinks, and was discovered purely by accident. I remember it well, I was looking for a new amaretto I saw in a shop window (a luxardo one, but I couldn’t remember the name) and stumbled across this on the drinkshop. I fell in love with the bottle design and it sounded good, so I bought a bottle for around £13-£14. Since then it’s become no longer available on the drinkshop, but I’m sure that within the next year or so they will break back onto the international market.
How do I know this? Well as recently as January this year (2013) this liqueur was show during an American tv’s superbowl cocktail segment. This alone makes me think they are branching out and it shouldn’t be too long for them to hit the UK commercially again (if they haven’t already)… For all you American reading this: You lucky buggars you, I’m extremely jealous. And would appreciate a few bottles sent my way!!
Here’s what the Pisa Liqueur official website has to say about their history:
“Liquore Pisa was born long ago from a domain steeped in history, rich in flavour and character. Its flavours come from a distant past, a history of intrigues of the renaissance. Therefore Liquore Pisa is aged and wise and imparts the feel of another world. Pisa has been bottled since the beginning in Italy at two Italian owned companies; Franciacorta which exists since 1901, and Torino Distillati.”
Cocktail O’Clock: The Pisa Sour
1 ¼ oz measure Pisa Liqueur
1 ¼ oz measure Stetson Bourbon
¾ oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1 egg white (optional)
Fresh grated nutmeg for garnish.
1) Shake ingredients over ice and double strain into a coupe cocktail glass.
2) Garnish with a grating of nutmeg.
6) Prucia Plum liqueur
Prucia is a bit of an enigma when it comes to liqueurs. However whilst it may be half Japanese and half French it is, after all, 100% Plum. This wonderful liqueur is something I discovered after originally falling in love with Brentzen Plum Liqueur. After trying the Brentzen liqueur, I found Prucia and thought I’d spend out the extra £££ for a little extra quality (or so I thought at the time). What I received for my £26 was a liqueur that, quite literally, blew my mind. I cannot shout enough good things about this Liqueur. My only problem is it’s slightly higher price tag – then again you are quite literally paying for the quality of the product, after all the Japanese part of this liqueur cannot come cheap.
“When bored by a splurge of poncey spirit brands, it’s a relief to taste something different…” – The London Paper.
This Liqueur is something a little special, and I wish I could have placed it higher, this with a splash of pepsi cola is just sublime, it’s simple yes, but so good.
Cocktail O’Clock: Prucia Formula
25ml Prucia Plum Liqueur
20ml Antica Formula Vermouth
Top up Champagne
Cherry & orange twist to garnish
1) Shake the Prucia & Vermouth together over ice and strain into a chilled champagne flute.
2) Top up with the Champagne.
3) Garnish by dropping the cherry in the glass and squeezing the twist over the glass and dropping that in too.
5) Agave Sec
Created jointly by Giffard, the mighty Liqueur Giants, and Simon Difford (author of Difford’s guide to cocktails), this curious but elegant blend of agave nectar and Curacao Triple Sec elbows its way onto the world market. It gives Cointreau a run for its money when it comes to a unique and rather floral triple sec brand. Clocking in at 40%, the same as Cointreau, this triple sec fills a niche some bartenders were craving: A triple sec that go toe to toe with Tequila.
The obvious thing that sets this triple sec apart is in the name: Agave Nectar. Using 100% Mexican agave nectar; this triple sec blends the Curacao orange peels, that triple sec are renown for, but without losing the quality in the process.
There are only two things that keep this ‘triple sec’ from bettering Cointreau:
1) Exposure: basically Cointreau has this triple sec beat on popularity. Cointreau has been around for hundreds of years and it has a brutal stranglehold on all things triple sec. I mean face it, would you swap out that Christmas favourite for something you’re not sure about? No me either (I would for this but hey that’s me).
2) Cointreau’s combination of bitter & sweet orange peels is still that missing ingredient from every other triple sec out there. Sure this one has Agave Nectar for sweetness, but Cointreau is still on another level. And rightly so, as said above, it’s been around for several hundreds of years, you’d have thought they’d done well in that time right?!
Cocktail O’Clock: The Agave Sec Margarita
40ml Tequila Blanco (choose your favourite brand)
20ml Giffard Agave Sec
20ml Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1) Combine ingredients in an ice filled shaker.
2) Shake well and strain into a margarita cocktail glass.
3) Garnish with a lime wheel.
Check out Giffards Agave Sec product page for a little bit more about its history and for some more cocktails, including:
Fun fact: “Agave Syrup is 90% fructose, which has a very low glycemic index – this means that it’s a much healthier alternative to cane sugar and you need far less to achieve the same level of sweetness.” – Mangrove UK
And here we are: Remy Cointreau’s crown jewel of liqueurs: Cointreau.
A list of my favourite liqueurs would not be complete without this beauty. It misses out on the top 3 by literally the smallest of margins. I couldn’t decide between this and the next and I had to flip a coin for it. Not very scientific but let’s face it: drinking rarely is.
As you know from the whole host of Cointreau blogs I’ve written before Cointreau is a premium grade Triple Sec made using both bitter & sweet orange peels (most other triple sec brands use just the bitter peels). I won’t go into too much detail as that will negate the point of all the other Cointreau post’s I’ve written. However below I shall leave link’s to all my other Cointreau posts.
The history of Cointreau Part 1
The history of Cointreau Part 2
The history of Cointreau Part 3
Fun fact: Cointreau turns opalescent when added to water, it shows the liqueur is pure and of good quality.
Cocktail O’Clock: The Cointreau Fizz, Original
½ lime (cut into wedges)
100ml Club Soda
1) Fill your glass with ice.
2) Add in the Cointreau.
3) Squeeze the lime wedges into the glass and drop in when done.
4) Top up with Club Soda
3) Domain De Canton Ginger liqueur
Domain de Canton Ginger Liqueur is another one of those French enigmas (like Prucia), in that it uses an interesting process and flavour to create something that truly is unique.
I tried this liqueur at university, having more money than I knew what to do with, when I bought and tried several expensive liqueurs. At around £30, it’s quite expensive all though these days that’s not far off some of the more established liqueurs.
Using the best Vietnamese baby ginger macerated with a blend of herbs and spices, unlocking it’s fresh essence.
“Domaine de Canton made in small batches and by hand, therefore mass quantities are not possible.” – partial descritption from the Domaine de Canton website.
This liqueur blends a whole collection of ingredients, including:
– Fine Eau de Vie,
– VSOP cognac
– XO Grande Champagne Cognac
– Tahitian Vanilla Beans
– Provencal Honey
– Tunisian Ginseng
If these ingredients are not enough for you, this liqueur is made naturally without preservatives, or colourings.
It’s worth a try if you have the monies knocking about, or even if you find a bar selling it. It’s perfect for cocktails, but even better with champagne, not to mention its use in food recipes.
Cocktail O’Clock: The Canton Cocktail
2 ½ mesures Domaine de Canton
½ measure Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
8 mint sprigs
Top up Club Soda (optional)
1) Shake all the ingredients over ice.
2) Strain into a rocks glass.
3) To make this drink slightly longer, top up with club Soda.
4) Garnish with a mint sprig and a slice of caramelised Ginger.
2) St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
What makes St-Germain my 2nd faviourite liqueur? Well apart from the heavenly taste, which by St-Germains own words “is a curious mixture that rivals Paris’ culture”, it’s all about the process St-Germain go through to create their signature liqueur…
Picking only the best fresh elderflower blossoms over the course of a few spring time weeks, the men that gather these blossoms then transport (by bicycle) the blossoms to the collection depot.
It is here that the fresh blossoms are then macerated using St-Germain’s secret method. Further to this the process they employ created the exceedingly fresh and complex elderflower liqueur we all know. With hints of pear, peach and even grapefruit zest, St Germain truly is a unique and superbly special liqueur. And it is for this reason it beats the other liqueurs in this list to 2nd place. The only liqueur to beat it, is one that holds a special place in my heart…
“Neither passionfruit nor pear, grapefruit nor lemon, the sublime taste of St-Germain hints at each of these and yet none of them exactly. It is a flavour as subtle and delicate as it is captivating. A little like asking a hummingbird to describe the flavour of its favourite nectar. Tres curieux indeed, n’est-ce pas?” – Exerpt from the St-Germain website.
Cocktail O’Clock: The St-Germain Cocktail
2 measures Brut Champagne (or dry sparkling wine)
1.5 measures St-Germain
2 measures Club Soda
1) Stir together the ingredients in an ice filled Collins glass.
2) Garnish with a lemon twist.
1) Licor 43 (aka Cuarenta Y Tres)
Repeat readers of this blog may or may not be surprised by this choice. Either way to me it was the easiest place to decide. I don’t think I could ever willingly go back to not knowing what this liqueur tastes like. Also I will not be going too much into its history or the cocktails, seeing as I have several posts dedicated to this…
A little re-cap of my introduction and history of this liqueur starts with my university life (once again, surprise, surprise). In my first year I was staying in halls which were situated 10 minutes walk away from the local Asda supermarket (a UK company owned by WallMart – a reference all you Americans will get). One time I went out with the intention to purchase a vanilla liqueur and was going to buy Galliano, until I saw this little Gem on the bottom shelf. It looked stunning in its unique little bottle, its black label and that golden liqueur.
So I gave in and spent the £16 (then, it’s around £18-£25 nowadays) and it was probably the best £16 I ever spent. I tried to find what it went best with, and strangely found that Pepsi (rather than coca cola) made the best mixer. Although it works well in plenty of cocktails, just look here for the best ones.
Another nail in the coffin of love I have for this liqueur was when I was on a Geography (University) Field trip to Southern Spain. At the hotel we stayed in, Licor 43 was one of most consumed liqueurs, and I got a lot of approving looks from the people at the bar for asking for it. Even the lady behind the bar seemed rather happy I’d asked for it (it probably helped me asking it using its Spanish name).
A little fact I want to end on it something not a lot of people know: Licor 43, also known as Cuarenta Y Tres, is a descendent of the Mirabilis liqueur made in the Cartangena region of the Mediterranean. And was originally founded by four Spaniards, and that company, Diego Zamora, is still completely family owned.
Cocktail O’Clock: The Power of Cuarenta Y Tres
7 measures Licor 43
1 measure Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
8 measures Cranberry Juice
4 measure Passion Fruit Nectar
1 measure Caramel Syrup
Fervent twist: Top up Ginger Beer
1) Shake all the ingredients into a shaker and strain over ice in a hurricane glass.
2) For a slightly longer drink, use our Fervent Twist and top up with Ginger beer.
3) Garnish with the in-season fresh fruit, and a lime wheel.
This cocktail is the one that, for me, really brings out what Cuarenta Y Tres stands for, both in name and taste.
Keep a look out for an on-going set of posts sharing (and celebrating) Licor 43’s current cocktail of the month initiative.
Previous Licor 43 posts:
Licor 43 Jewel of Southern Spain
Until next time readers, fare thee well!