A liqueur is a sweet alcoholic beverage, often flavored with fruits, herbs, or spices, and sometimes cream.
Historically, they derive from herbal medicines, often those prepared by monks, as Benedictine. Liqueurs were made in Italy as early as the 13th century.
Some liqueurs are prepared by infusing certain woods, fruits, or flowers, in either water or alcohol, and adding sugar, etc. Others are distilled from aromatic or flavoring agents. The distinction between liqueur and liquor is not simple, especially since many liquors are available in a flavoured form today. Flavoured liquors, however, are not prepared by infusion. Alcohol content is not a distinctive feature. At 15 to 30%, most liqueurs have a lower alcohol content than liquor, but some liqueurs have an alcohol content as high as 55% (absinthe, for example). Dessert wine, on the other hand, may taste like a liqueur, but contains no additional flavouring.
Liqueurs may be drunk neat, often during or after dessert, or may be used in cocktails or cooking.
Last updated: 10-25-2005 12:49:37