Understanding the Difference Between Liqueur and Liquor

Curious about liqueur? Get the 411 here! From its use in cocktails to its various flavor profiles, explore this popular form of alcohol in our latest article.


Liqueur, also known as flavored liqueur or aromatic liqueur, is a type of alcohol commonly used in bars and restaurants to make cocktails. So, what is liqueur, and how is it different from liquor? Let’s find out in the following article.

1. What is liqueur?

Liqueur is the English name for flavored liqueur or aromatic liqueur. Liqueur is produced by combining strong alcohol, also known as liquor, with various herbs, flowers, and other ingredients to add sweetness.

Liqueur was first produced in Italy in the early 13th century and has been increasingly produced and widely used with various flavors and colors.

Liqueur is also known as flavored liqueur or aromatic liqueurLiqueur is also known as flavored liqueur or aromatic liqueur

2. Characteristics of liqueur

Liqueur has a low alcohol content, usually around 15-30% ABV. This is because they have been blended with sugar or other sweetening agents. However, some types of liqueur still have a high ABV of up to 55%.

Liqueur is commonly used to create a variety of cocktails, consumed with ice, mixed with coffee and cream, etc. Nowadays, liqueur is also added to dishes to enhance the flavor.

Liqueur has a low alcohol contentLiqueur has a low alcohol content

*ABV is a unit of alcohol measurement.

3. The production process of liqueur

Liqueur or flavored liqueur is produced by infusing various woods, fruits, flowers, seeds, or herbs into water or alcohol and adding sugar or other sweetening agents for fermentation and distillation. Some types of liqueur are distilled from aromatic substances or flavoring agents.

Sweeteners should be added to liqueur with a minimum amount of 2.5% compared to the alcohol content. Liqueur can be added with natural or artificial flavors and colors.

Liqueur is produced by distillationLiqueur is produced by distillation

4. Distinguishing between liqueur and liquor

Overview of liquor

Liquor, also known as spirit or strong alcohol, is distilled from the fermentation of barley or other plants such as grains and fruits. It has a high alcohol content, ranging from 40 to 55% depending on the type of liquor.

Liquor does not have a sweet taste and is consumed neat or on the rocks. Additionally, liquor is also used to make cocktails and other beverages.

Liquor is also known as strong alcoholLiquor is also known as strong alcohol

How to distinguish between liqueur and liquor

Basically, both liqueur and liquor are produced through the distillation process. However, they have some differences as follows:

Comparison Criteria Liqueur Liquor
Production method Made from liquor and supplemented with flavorings from fruits, flowers, seeds,… Fermented and distilled from grains or fruits
Alcohol content Low, ranging from 15 – 30% ABV, some types have up to 55% ABV. High, depending on the type of liquor, such as: Rum, Brandy, Tequila, Vodka is 40%; Gin ranges from 37.5 – 50% and Whisky is 55%.
Sweetness Yes No
Usage Consumed neat, on the rocks, used to make various creative beverages, even added to dishes for flavor enhancement. Consumed neat, on the rocks, or used to make cocktails.

5. Introduction to some famous liqueurs

Coffee-flavored liqueur – Kahlua

Kahlua is a famous liqueur worldwide made from 100% Arabica coffee beans from the hills of Mexico and carefully selected manually. The coffee is then roasted, blended with premium Rum, vanilla, and other ingredients.

Kahlua has a seductive coffee aroma and is used to make cocktails such as B52, B54…

Coffee-flavored liqueur - KahluaCoffee-flavored liqueur – Kahlua

Orange-flavored liqueur – Cointreau

Cointreau is the first pure liqueur in the list of liqueurs. Cointreau has a relatively high alcohol content (30%) with the main ingredient of Cointreau being sweet oranges from all over the world.

Cointreau has 2 lines, Noir and L’unique. Cointreau Noir is seductive, high-quality, suitable for those who are knowledgeable about cocktails, while Cointreau L’unique is colorless, transparent, with a natural orange aroma.

Orange-flavored liqueur - CointreauOrange-flavored liqueur – Cointreau

Milk-flavored liqueur – Baileys

Baileys is based on the combination of milk and cream, with a low alcohol content and sweetness, making it suitable for both women and men. Baileys is widely used in parties and is naturally preserved through an alcohol coating process, so Baileys has a shelf life of about 2 years.

Milk-flavored liqueur - BaileysMilk-flavored liqueur – Baileys

Now you know what liqueur is and some interesting information about them. Liqueur is popular for its diverse colors and flavors without overshadowing the traditional aroma of alcohol. We hope this article has provided you with new knowledge.