The range of liqueurs has thousands of names, and the recipe and composition are unique for each manufacturer, but you can still make a classification by selecting the main types of liqueurs according to several criteria: the method of preparation, the base ingredient, strength and sweetness. This knowledge will help you navigate when choosing the right drink in the store.
According to international standards, liquor is an alcoholic drink with a strength of at least 15%, produced in one of three ways. In the first method, berries, fruits, herbs and other components are soaked for a while in pure alcohol (infused), then the resulting liquid is distilled on a special distillation apparatus – alambik or column. To reduce the strength, water and sugar are added to the finished drink. If you do not use dyes, the liquor will turn out transparent. For example, this is how the famous Italian sambuca is made.
The second method of production is to soak (macerate) the base of the liqueur in alcohol or strong alcohol (whiskey, cognac, gin, etc.) for several months, followed by filtration and the introduction of other ingredients provided for by the recipe. Almost all fruit liqueurs fall into this group. In fact, these are ordinary tinctures with sugar. The third method is a combination of the previous two. Due to the technological complexity, high costs, and lack of obvious advantages in taste and aroma, the combined method is rarely used.
Composition of the liqueur
Each manufacturer tries to create a unique composition that distinguishes its brand from its competitors, but there are basic components that are included in each liqueur:
- alcohol base-in most cases, it is brandy (fruit distillate) or grain alcohol;
- extract-creates a basic taste, any fruit and berries are suitable for obtaining the extract, thanks to this, the range of liqueurs is so diverse; there are options for drinks in which fruit extract is not used, for example, egg liqueur Advocate or milk Baileys;
- flavorings – herbs, spices, plant roots or their synthetic substitutes, in the composition of some liqueurs there are medicinal herbs (Becherovka, Egermeister, Bitner), but today it is rare;
- other components-are responsible for the flavor tone or completely form the taste, this group includes: cocoa, egg yolk, tea, coffee, cream, vanilla, etc.;
- distilled water-needed to adjust the strength and consistency;
- sweeteners – sugar, pure glucose, or honey.
Types of liqueurs
Depending on the strength and sugar content, there are:
- Strong (35-45% alcohol, 32-50% sugar) – in its pure form, drink in small sips from small glasses, also strong liqueurs are added to tea and coffee. Famous brands: Benedictine, Cointreau, Sambuca, Beherovka, Vana Tallinn.
- Dessert dishes (25-30% alcohol, sugar up to 50%) – are characterized by a pronounced aroma, served at the end of the dinner as a digestif along with sweet dishes (ice cream, chocolate, fruit). Dessert liqueurs include: Amaretto, Chambord, Lawyer, Curacao.
- Liqueurs-creams (alcohol 15-28%, sugar-50-60%) – due to the high sugar content, this type has a specific cloying taste. Cream liqueurs are drunk with ice from whiskey glasses. Drinks are presented by such brands as Bayliss, Sheridans, Millwood, which are a good choice for a romantic evening or making cocktails.
There is another, intuitive classification, which is based on the ingredient that forms the taste. For example, orange, raspberry, apple, mint coffee, egg, etc.