By Carl Hanson
July 05, 2015

These sweet spirits know it's always best to be cordial.

Photo by Deb C

Lower in alcohol than straight spirits, these tasty tipples are sweetened spirits infused with fruits, flowers, herbs, nuts, and/or spices--sometimes even bark, roots, and leaves.

The word "liqueur" comes from the Latin Liquefacere, which means the process of dissolving something in liquid. Cordial, on the other hand, comes from the Latin word for heart, cor. Whether you call it cordial or liqueur, both words describe the same thing: an alcoholic beverage in which spirits have been steeped, percolated, brewed, or macerated with some kind of flavor-giving substance like fruits, herbs, and flowers, and then sweetened. Some people more narrowly define a cordial as a liqueur made specifically from fruit or fruit juice.

What's the Main Ingredient?

Here are some classic liqueurs and their main flavor-infusing ingredients. Some are centuries old and made from top-secret formulas.

Amaretto: Almond
Bailey's Irish Cream: Whiskey/cream
Benedictine: Honey/citrus/herbs
Chambord: Black raspberry
Crème de Cacao: Chocolate
Crème de Cassis: Currant
Crème de Menthe: Mint
Curacao: Bitter orange
Cointreau: Sour and sweet oranges
Frangelico: Hazelnut
Jagermeister: Herbs/spices
Limoncello: Lemon
Maraschino: Cherry
Midori: Melon
Kahlua: Coffee
Ouzo: Anise
Pastis: Anise
SambuccaRomano: Elder bush
Schnapps: Peach
SouthernComfort: Peach/bourbon
Triple Sec: Bitter and sweet oranges

Cordial Cocktails

Liqueurs make delicious and beautiful cocktails. Here are some of our favorites.


Bailey's Irish Cream

Blue Curacao


Crème de Cacao

Crème de Cassis

Crème de Menthe



Grand Marnier




Peach Schnapps

Southern Comfort

Triple Sec