June 22, 2017

This piece originally appeared on VinePair.

Liqueurs (flavored, typically sweetened spirits) have a bad reputation. They’re sugary, often taste like one thing alone (chocolate, berries), and are sometimes brightly colored, which makes people skeptical of their seriousness. But friends, when it comes to booze, there is a time and place for nearly anything, liqueurs included. That time happens to be now, and that place is your glass of seltzer.

Liqueurs theoretically can be enjoyed on their own, but they’re best when mixed. As mentioned here, liqueurs are essential to plenty of classic cocktails. However, they’re also a great way to add a little booze to your innocent glass of soda. Since liqueurs typically burst with flavor, you don’t have to use a lot of liquid to get a great taste. Use a liqueur right, and it can can provide a pop of flavor and proof without overdoing it. Here are nine fantastic liqueurs you can mix into your soda, seltzer, tea, milk, coffee, hot chocolate, kombucha, Gatorade…

Right. Here we go.

1. Amaro Montenegro

Amaro Montenegro is an amaro (Italian herbal liqueur). Although “amaro” literally translates as bitter, do not let that intimidate you. Amaro Montenegro is one of the most quaffable liqueurs out there, but it doesn’t sacrifice complexity for drinkability. Vanilla bean, citrus, mint, and a tinge of coffee make this sweet liqueur an easy winner. Enjoy it with black tea and coffee, more bitter iced teas, and root beer. This is also an after-dinner shot favorite.

2. SomruS

This stuff is pretty out there. Made from sourced Caribbean rum, cream, and a bunch of spices, it basically tastes like Chai latte liqueur. You’ll get nuts, lots of cardamom, and unmistakable black tea. That being said, the sugar in SomruS isn’t overwhelming. We can see this liqueur going great in milkshakes and piping hot tea. It’s very much a thick dessert liqueur, so end – do not start – your meal with it.

3. Kas Krupnikas

Krupnnikas is a Polish nalewka, which is pretty similar to a liqueur. However, Kas (the brand) is made in New York. This a honey liqueur, but it doesn’t taste like the honey you squeeze out of the bear onto your greek yogurt. What you’ll taste is a deep honeycomb smack on the palate, molasses, and a rich body, plus an herbaceous finish to follow. Kas would probably make for some interesting cooking. Mix it with simple syrup or use it in hot beverage where you’d normally go for honey. Available at stores in New York and online for most states here.

4. Sorel Hibiscus Liqueur

If you’re familiar with the taste of hibiscus, you can probably thank either booze or tea. Have you ever munched on a hibiscus flower? But I digress. Hibiscus is a beautiful flavor that shines strong in this warm, deeply hued liqueur. Crafted by Jack From Brooklyn, Sorel is made by rectifying neutral grain spirit with spices galore, such as cassia, ginger, and of course, hibiscus. Sorel tastes like a less tannic mulled wine. That being said, the onslaught of lively spices gums up the palate a little, demanding your attention. Use Sorel to spike fruity teas and lemonade.

5. Giffard Banane du Brésil 

Awhile back, we gave you the lowdown on banana beer, and how this author’s search for it was inspired by drinking an amazing banana liqueur. This is that liqueur. Banane du Brésil is a beach party in a bottle. You’ll taste luscious baked bananas followed by some other tropical fruit flavors (Brazilian nut, pineapple). However, what you’ll mostly taste is banana, in all it’s glory. This is the perfect liqueur to amp up your piña colada game, or to combine with basic fruit juice. It’s also lovely to drop in a pint of dry cider or ale. You can’t humanly dislike this liqueur. The end.

6. Berentzen Icemint Schnapps

We’re not entirely sure what this is made out of, but it’s fantastic. There are a million ways a “mint schnapps” could go wrong, including but not limited to tasting like gum, menthol cigarettes, or mouthwash. Luckily, Berentzen Icement tastes more like peppermint patty filling. It’s very sweet and highly alcoholic (100 proof), so don’t glug it in whopping doses. However, this is an ample complement for chocolate milk, a whole milk iced latte, and of course, when the winter rolls around, a creamy mug of hot cocoa.

7. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur

While we’re on the subject of cocoa, let’s talk about Godiva Chocolate Liqueur (not the dark or white chocolate liqueur, the OG chocolate liqueur, now known as the milk chocolate liqueur.) Godiva chocolate is awesome, so it’s not surprising that the company makes a really great chocolate liqueur. This tastes like rich, feed-me-more chocolate truffles. It’s wonderful in classisc like the Brandy Alexander, but it’s also begging to be swirled around in a shamelessly frothy latte-cino-thingamajig. You could also combine Godiva Chocolate Liqueur with seltzer and milk for a naughty Egg Cream.

8. Rothman & Winter Crème de Violette 

This visually striking liqueur is commonly used in the Aviation cocktail, but it has potential for much more than that. Like Sorel, it’s rather floral, but conjures up much more sugar than spice. The heady, perfumed nose will make you feel like you’ve just walked into a fragrant garden. The taste is, of course, chock full of violet flowers. It’s a very umami taste, but if we had to compare it to something, we’d liken it to blueberries that have been hanging out at the fragrance department of Bloomingdale’s. Anyway, the point is that this liqueur is unique and whimsical and quite viscous. Thin it out with some lemon-flavored sparkling water or iced skim milk for a wonderful afternoon treat.

9. Green Chartreuse

It wouldn’t be a VinePair liqueur list if we didn’t mention at least one product made by monks. Green Chartreuse is a liqueur made by the Chartreuse monks in France. There’s a yellow Chartreuse, too. Fun fact: the color came after the liqueur. According to the Chartreuse website, green Chartreuse is the only green liqueur that’s like, that green without having its colors tampered with. Chartreuse is bittersweet, with some raw cacao flavors that mingle with maraschino . Herbs dance with this sweetness to give you a very distinct liqueur. Green Chartreuse is probably the least “easy” drinking liqueur on this list. That being said, it’s so bizarre (and delicious) that it deserves to be tried. Put a couple drops in some thick Turkish coffee or earthier beverages like Kombucha. If you’re feeling mild, reach for yellow Chartreuse instead – it’s a little less in your face.

Related: Americans Have Been Squandering Their Opportunity to Drink Yogurt Liqueur 
Get to Know Zwack, the Best Named Liquor You've Never Heard of 
The Pimm's Cup and Beyond: 3 Cocktails to Make with Pimms No. 1

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