Stock Your Bar Cart With These Staple Liqueurs to Up Your Hosting Game

Hadley Mendelsohn

The world of bartending is vast and various, so for the average person, the world of spirits can be truly mystifying. In fact, ordering a drink off of a craft cocktail menu can often feel more like an AP chemistry oral exam you didn't study for. This is especially true when it comes to understanding the difference between liquor and liqueur, and from there, knowing the specific types of liqueurs.

To set the record straight and make home bartending a lot more manageable yet gourmet, we decided to go straight to the experts. So last time I went to the NoMad's hotel lobby bar, I asked one of the bartenders to break it to down for me. He explained that liquor is the word you use to describe any alcoholic beverage that's been distilled, which is also referred to as a spirit.

Liqueurs, on the other hand, are types of liquors with added sugar flavored from other ingredients. The sugar is usually derived from flowers, fruits, herbs, coffee beans, nuts, and more. They typically range from 15% to 55% ABV and are used in a variety of cocktails to enhance and balance out their flavour profiles. 

And while liqueurs may sound like an unnecessary "extra" ingredient, they're actually considered essential in most classic cocktails, from Manhattans to martinis, negronis, and old-fashioneds (though you can also drink them straight on the rocks). 

Keep reading to learn about the most common types of liqueurs to keep in stock at home and what to make with them. We promise they're not as fancy as they sound (though they taste like they are). 

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