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Monday, 25 January 2016


One of the first spirits to be distilled by Europeans was made in early thirteenth century Italy where liqueurs were being produced from wine and aromatic herbs. At that time liqueurs were principally being used for medical purposes.

The Italian painter Bernardino Luini was commissioned in 1525 to paint a fresco of the Madonna for the local shrine of Our Lady of the Miracles. Luini used as his model for Madonna a young tavern keeper, with whom he was having an affair. She was so impressed with the picture that she created for him a Christmas gift, an amber red liqueur made with almonds and apricots from her garden. It was named Amaretto, which is Italian for "a little bitter".

Chartreuse is a French liqueur made by the Carthusian Monks since 1737.The liqueur is named after the monks' Grande Chartreuse monastery, located in the Chartreuse Mountains in the general region of Grenoble in France.  The recipe came from instructions set out in a chemical manuscript given to them by François Annibal d'Estrées in 1605. The 130 herbs, plants and flowers used to prepare chartreuse liqueur may be known today to as few as three monks

By Infrogmation of New Orleans - Photo by Infrogmation, CC BY-SA 3.0, $3

After Bonnie Prince Charlie was defeated by the English government forces at Culloden, the young pretender fled for his life and was befriended by Captain John Mackinnon. The prince was so grateful that he gave Mackinnon his personal recipe for his favorite concoction, made from a French formula, of Scotch whisky laced with heather, herbs, honey, and spices. He called it Drambuie, which means "a drink that satisfies" in Gaelic.

An orange flavored liqueur named Cointreau was created in 1849. It was made from unripe, sweet and bitter oranges two French confectioner brothers, Adolphe and Edouard-Jean Cointreau, in the Angers region of France.

The French Marnier-Lapostolle family firm developed in 1880 a new 40% alcohol liqueur made from a blend of cognacs and oranges. César Ritz (1850–1918) reportedly came up with its name "Grand Marnier" for Marnier-Lapostolle, who in return helped him purchase and establish the Hotel Ritz Paris.

Jägermeister is a digestif made with 56 herbs and spices at a strength of 35% alcohol by volume. German Curt Mast came up with Jäger’s original recipe in 1935.  It was originally used medicinally for easing flu symptoms from coughs to sore throats.

 R. J. Bailey and Co of Dublin, Ireland, created in 1974 a new type of drink, a blend of dairy cream and Irish whiskey, which they called Baileys Irish Cream. Such was its success that several other manufacturers were soon working on their own cream liqueur imitations.

In the United States and Canada, where spirits are often called "liquor", there is often confusion over liqueurs and liquors, especially as many spirits today are available in flavored form. The most reliable rule of thumb is that liqueurs are quite sweet and often syrupy in consistency, while liquors are not.

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