(Popular brands: Bailey’s Irish Creme, Kahlua, Jagermeister, Grand Marnier)
The term cordial and liqueur are interchangeable. Liqueurs are a combination of a distilled spirit and flavorings. Many of these products were developed in the Middle Ages as medical remedies, love potions, etc.
Cordials and liqueurs are usually sweet in taste. They must contain at least 2.5% sugar by weight. Most contain considerably more. Some liqueurs contain as much as 35% sugar by weight. If the product contains less than 10% sugar by weight, it must be labeled as “dry.” The sugar source may be beet, maple, sugar cane, honey, corn, or a combination of these.
Most cordials and liqueurs contain 17-30% alcohol by volume (or 34-60 proof). Some liqueurs, however, contain 50% or more alcohol by volume (or 100 proof).
There are three methods to extract the flavors needed to produce a cordial or liqueur:
There are two types of cordials or liqueurs: generic and proprietary. Generic cordials or liqueurs are produced from universally known recipes (an example of a generic liqueur in amaretto). Proprietary cordials or liqueurs are produced from secret recipes (an example of a proprietary liqueur is Benedectine). You may occasionally see a liqueur labeled as proprietary.
Liqueurs are often labeled either “after dinner drinks” or “aperitifs.” An after dinner drink, as the term indicates, is consumed after dinner with the purpose of aiding the digestion of a meal and/or savoring the meal. Aperitifs are consumed before the meal and are intended to stimulate the appetite.