National Liqueur Day celebrates the myriad classes and flavors of liqueur.
The word liqueur comes from the Latin liquifacere, which means to liquefy. A liqueur is an alcoholic beverage made from a distilled spirit. Distillers flavor the spirit with fruit, cream, herbs, spices, flowers, or nuts. Next, they bottle it with added sugar or other sweeteners. While liqueurs are typically considerably sweet, distillers do not usually age their product long. They do, however, allow a resting period during production, which allows the flavors to marry.
With the broad selection of spirits available in seasonal, fragrant, and often curious flavors (vodkas and rums in particular), there is often confusion of liqueurs and liquors. In the United States and Canada, spirits are frequently called liquor. The most reliable rule of thumb to follow suggests that liqueurs comprise a sweeter, syrupy consistency, while liquors do not. Most of the liqueurs have a lower alcohol content than spirits. However, some do contain as much as 55% ABV.
In parts of the United States, liqueurs may also be called cordials or schnapps.
Historically, liqueurs descend from herbal medicines prepared by monks in Italy as early as the 13th century. They steeped these often bitter herbs and sweetened them with sugar to make them more palatable to the monks’ ailing patients. The curative potency received a restful boost from its alcohol content as well.
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