Liqueurs (not to be confused with liquors!) are a bartender’s dream.
They provide many cocktails with that sweet tang we all crave. They come in a huge variety of flavors, such as orange, chocolate, or coffee. Some are made with cream while others are crystalline clear and sharp in flavor.
So much variety makes it overwhelming to figure out where to start. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you.
Listed below are the most popular liqueur brands used in a wide array of different cocktails and drinks. Learning these brands is the best way to start your bartending journey.
Bailey’s Irish Cream
Chances are good that you’ve heard of this popular liqueur before. This liqueur is well known for its creamy consistency and its smooth mix of chocolate and whiskey flavors.
It’s often enjoyed neat or on the rocks, while some people enjoy adding it to their coffee or hot chocolate. But this classic liqueur is the star in a lot of delicious mixed drinks as well.
Popular cocktail recipes using Bailey’s Irish Cream include:
- Bailey’s Fizz
- Bailey’s Dublin Double
If you’re a fan of marzipan, then you need to try Amaretto. Made from the pits of apricots, this versatile liqueur is loved around the world for its smooth almond flavor.
Due to its versatility, there’s no wrong answer when it comes to using Amaretto at your next party. Go as simple as adding it to club soda or come up with something extravagant and fun.
Popular cocktail recipes using Amaretto include:
- Amaretto Sour
- Italian Sunset
- Alabama Slammer
No bar selection is complete without this fortified wine-based liqueur. Available in both a dry and a sweet variety, Vermouth is the shining star of the ever-famous martini cocktail. It mixes well with other alcohols and stands on its own as a perfect apéritif during a nice meal.
The unique flavor of this liqueur comes from the different botanicals added to the liquid, such as herbs, flowers, roots, and even bark.
Popular cocktail recipes using Vermouth include:
Although its white variety is the most popular, Sambuca exists in red and black as well. Due to its anise-based flavors, mixing this liqueur with other liquids makes for an interesting experiment. The cloudy quality of the mix makes for a cool effect when trying to show off your skills.
Plus, it sort of makes you feel like you’re a mad scientist creating something epic. With flavors of licorice, sugar, and elderflower, this liqueur adds a complex twist to any cocktail.
Popular cocktail recipes using Sambuca include:
- Fizzy Licorice
- Slippery Nipple
Nothing starts off the day quite like a cup of good coffee. So why not use that same mentality at the end of your day? Kahlúa is one of the best coffee liqueur brands around and it could be a great way to relax after a hard working day.
With its sweet notes of vanilla and rum mixed together with Arabian coffee, it’s no wonder why the world loves this liqueur so much.
Popular cocktail recipes using Kahlua include:
- White Russian
- Kahlua Mudslide
- Black Russian
This strong liqueur comes in several different colors but is most known for its green variety. This green liqueur is the namesake for the color chartreuse, given to it back in the 1800s.
Made from over 130 different herbs and flowers, Chartreuse is perfect on any bartender’s shelf. Because of its incredible punch of flavor, a lot goes a long way with this liqueur.
But you don’t need to worry, as this liqueur continues to get better over time. Even if you use it up slowly, it will last for many parties to come.
Popular cocktail recipes using Chartreuse include:
This liqueur has a bottle shape you’d recognize anywhere. It sits upon the shelf looking like a little friar, cord around the middle and all.
The true treasure is what lurks inside. The hazelnut liqueur is full of flavor that keeps you coming back for more. With the added herbs to bring about more tones to the taste and the rich caramel color, this liqueur never disappoints.
Divine on its own, it also mixes with a myriad of other alcohols to create something special.
Popular cocktail recipes using Frangelico include:
- Frangelico Sour
- Hazelnut Martini
- Satin Angel
This triple sec liqueur will amaze you with its bright orange flavor and smooth finish. It’s somewhat dry on the palate while still retaining sweet undertones that bring out interesting flavors in mixed drinks.
If you’re looking for that citrus kick, you can’t go wrong with Cointreau. It’s more often taken neat or with ice, but it melds well with a large variety of flavors and textures.
Popular cocktail recipes using Cointreau include:
- Blue Moon
With a name derived from Scottish Gaelic to mean “the drink that satisfies”, you know you’re bound for a good time.
This special liqueur starts off with the strong flavor of Scotch whiskey and doesn’t hold back its boldness. Mixed to this whiskey is the sweetness of honey and an intricate selection of herbs and spices.
If you’re someone who enjoys a good whiskey and is new to liqueurs, why not begin with this one? It won’t disappoint and provides the perfect starting point for any whiskey-lover.
Popular cocktail recipes using Drambuie include:
- Rusty Nail
- Bonnie Prince Charlie
- Scotch Coffee
Savor the Unique Characteristics of These Liqueurs
Now you have a better understanding of the different liqueurs that have a strong presence in every respectable bar. With these in your bartending toolbox, you’ll have no trouble impressing your guests and your friends with your skills.
We’ve shared some of the more popular brands, but there are many other delicious brands to try. So take the time to experiment and test them all for yourself. Try some popular cocktail recipes and create some of your own.
It’ll be a fun experience for everyone involved.
Want to expand your knowledge even more? Learn about the 10 best whiskeys that top every whiskey lover’s favorites list.