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by Liana Bennett
Liqueurs are a great category of alcohol. Their diversity and versatility is essentially endless. Liqueurs begin as brandy or whisky and are sweetened and flavored by a variety of natural products like herbs, seeds, plants and fruits. Some liqueurs simply derive their flavor from the spirit base. The flavoring agents can be infused into the spirit by a number of methods like maceration, percolation and distillation. The differences in techniques do not change the flavor but some agents respond better to certain methods and sometimes it is a matter of economics. Liqueurs fall into one of four categories: herbal, fruit, seed and plants or whisky. Liqueurs, or cordials, can be served straight up, on ice, or mixed with a variety of juices, sodas, milk and even other liquors like Champagne.
Herbal liqueurs use numerous substances to flavor the base spirit. Benedictine mixes 27 herbs and plants while Chartreuse blends over 130. Most of the liqueurs in this category were created long ago for medicinal purposes. Benedictine was supposed to be the remedy for malaria. Jaggermister is a digestive. Although there is no scientific proof these cure any ills, I know from personal experience, they will at least numb the pain.
The most popular of the liqueurs is the fruit category. The range in flavors is vast from orange and other citrus, to blackberry, banana, raspberry, blueberry, black currant and peach (to just name a few). Some use natural flavorings while others use artificial or a combination of both. Here you will find Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Midori, Poire William, Framboise and many of the crème liqueurs.
Unlike those made from a blend of many herbs, liqueurs made from seeds and plants use only one or two flavoring ingredients. Mint, nuts and aniseed are the most popular choices. Amaretto is made from crushed apricot pits and Frangelico is made from hazelnuts. Anisette, including Marie Brizzard and Sambuca get their black licorice flavor from aniseed.
There are some liqueurs that do not add natural substances for flavoring. These liqueurs allow for the distinctness of the base spirit of whisky or brandy to draw through. Scottish Drambuie, Irish Mist and South Comfort are found in this section of the shelves.
Liana’s Favorite Liqueurs
Just Desserts Chocolate Chip Cookie Liqueur
Alize Red Passion
Bols Strawberry Liqueur
Homemade Banana Liqueur
You can make banana liqueur at home and you don’t even need to clean your bathtub!
2 ripe bananas
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
6 cups favorite vodka (unflavored will leave sole banana flavor but if you want to combine flavors, use about 1 cup of flavored vodka (ex. mandarin) and 5 cups of plain vodka)
Mash bananas and put in a gallon jar; Cover bananas with vodka; Seal jar tightly and set aside in cool, dry place for a week.
After a week, pour the mixture through a strainer to remove banana mush
Mix in sugar to the remaining liquid; Strain again through a clean cloth to filter any sediment; Mix in vanilla.
Let it sit for a day or so then serve to all your friends!
From The Beverage Alcohol Report - Feb, 2006, Liana Bennett.
The Beverage Alcohol Report (The BAR) was published on a monthly basis until May, 2006 compliments of Liana Bennett. Its main purpose was to further the knowledge, appreciation and general enjoyment of all alcoholic beverages. Your comments, questions and tasting stories can be sent to [email protected]
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