The world of liqueurs is so vast, it could take a person years to get to know each and every variety, perhaps even a lifetime. (That’s not a bad way to spend your life, though). Not to be confused with “liquor,” the word “liqueur” comes from the Latin word liquifacere, meaning to liquefy or dissolve, in reference to the infusion process used to make them. These sweet, infused tipples are made with a base spirit, flavorings like fruit, nuts, herbs and flowers, and added sugar.
The History of Liqueurs
Liqueurs have been around for centuries. Descendents of herbal medicines, many first showed up in the Middle Ages in monasteries and convents across Europe. They likely originated in Italy and migrated to France, possibly via Catherine de’ Medici who brought them along with her court from Tuscany to France after marrying King Henry II in the 16th century. But it was in the Netherlands that liqueurs first took off on a commercial scale. Bols, founded in 1575, is the world’s oldest distilled-spirits brand and claims they’ve been producing liqueurs consistently since that date.