Liqueurs are mysterious in character and expansive in variety. Produced in all corners of the world, many have a storied history. Most liqueurs are bottled at a much lower “proof” than liquors. These concoctions contain a wide variety of herbs, fruits, barks, spices, flowers, nuts and more - most with recipes that are very much protected. Some are very sweet (St. Germaine), herbal (Chartreuse), or bitter (Campari); many are citrus forward (Aperol) and others taste of menthol (Fernet Branca). Quite a few liqueurs stand alone and can be enjoyed as an aperitif (before meal) or as a digestif (after meal). Others are best suited for cocktails.
The most important rule for building your collection of liqueurs? Don’t stock anything you won’t drink.
Don’t know what to buy? My husband, Aaron, has a trick. Find a well stocked drinking establishment - take a visit and sit at the bar. Order a drink, pay cash and leave a nice tip. Stay for a while and express interest in their collection. Most passionate bartenders are excited to share their craft. A conversation about a bottle often leads to a taste.
Looking for a nice resource? We use “Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails” with regularity.