Liqueur is a sweet alcoholic beverage that temps with its irresistible fruity flavor. The name of the alcohol originates from the Latin word liquifacere, translated as "to liquefy". This type of beverage is drunk on its own or in combination with other alcoholic or nonalcoholic drinks.
Types of Liqueur
Liqueurs are subdivided into 3 groups. Aged liqueurs fall into the 1st. Recipes for them are kept in strict secrecy. Their means of production is revealed only to a specific group of people. It is believed that the original recipe dates back to the 13th century.
The 2nd group encompasses liqueurs which are generally used to mix cocktails. They're considered brand names and have a higher price. Liqueurs belonging to the 3rd group possess a creamy consistency.
History of Liqueur
It is believed that this type of drink was known as far back as 800 years ago. An interesting fact is that liqueur was not specifically created as an alcoholic drink but rather as a means of healing. The first liqueurs were mixed by Italian monks, who used fruits and herbs. They would soak these components in spirits, then leave them to sit for several months.
The resulting liquid was strained and mixed with distilled water. Then the alcohol would be sweetened and flavored with spices which were kept secret. Not long after, liqueur transformed from a means of healing to a favored drink among ladies, as well as men. It was well-known both to the poor and representatives of the aristocracy.
For example, Louis XIV loved to drink this particular beverage which is why it was regularly present at the royal dining table. However the drink reached the peak of its popularity during the 19th century. The most renowned producers of liqueur were the French and Italians, who passed on their knowledge to the Dutch.
Production of Liqueur
Even though quality liqueur manufacturers are confident in the authenticity of the recipes they use, the production technology has more or less changed with time. Regardless of the fact that the recipe for the finest liqueurs is kept secret, some facts have managed to reach consumers.
For example, the production process starts by soaking the different fruits in spirits. To them, citrus fruit rinds and various aromatic herbs are added. Depending on the type of liqueur, the components sit as is anywhere between several hours and 7 days.
The resulting liquid is filtered and then distilled using special equipment. Once this process concludes, the essence of the drink is obtained. It in turn is mixed with water and sugar. The product is flavored with fruit juices and essential oils.
Liqueur is made according to different recipes in different countries. In Israel they put spirits derived from cactus into it. All kinds of fruits can be put into liqueur, but manufacturers stress strawberries, sour cherries, blackcurrants and mulberries most of all.
Choosing and Storing Liqueur
Liqueurs are some of the most common alcoholic drinks on the market. Of course you'll find the best variety in specialized stores. When choosing an alcohol, check the expiration date and whether the bottle is well closed.
When storing liqueurs, keep them in a cool and dark area, out of reach of children. Even though some liqueurs do require it, in general storing this type of alcohol in the refrigerator is completely unnecessary since it can negatively affect its consistency. When stored properly, an open bottle can be used 10-12 months, sometimes even longer.
Liqueur can be served on its own or with an hors d'oeuvre. Depending on individual tastes, it can be thinned with a few ice cubes if desired. If served pure, specialized liqueur glasses are ideal. They are distinguished by a small volume. Besides liqueur, brandy can also be served in them. If the liqueur is part of a cocktail, serve the drink in cocktail glasses.
Cooking with Liqueur
The irresistible sweet taste of liqueur, as well as its equally pleasant aroma, turn it into a preferred ingredient for many sweet foods. Chefs use liqueurs with a relish when preparing creams, smoothies, ice creams and puddings. They can provide a one-of-a-kind charm to cakes, cheesecakes, bonbons, eclairs, donuts, pancakes, waffles, biscuits and more. Some of the most tempting sweet surprises with liqueur are blueberry tiramisu, zebra cheesecake, juicy cake, lemon cheesecake and others.
Liqueurs are one the most important parts of numerous unforgettable cocktails. They are mixed with fruit juices, milk or other alcoholic drinks such as brandy, whiskey, gin, absinthe, mint. Liqueurs can be added to warm drinks such as coffee and tea.