If you have any Galliano, the sweet, herbal Italian liqueur, lurking in your liquor cabinet, you'll know. Because there's no way this tall, skinny bottle and its Day-Glo yellow contents can ever get lost. Wildly popular back in the '70s (yes, we know that's hardly an endorsement), Galliano has graced plenty of sub-par cocktails, but today's talented bartenders have started to redeem its reputation.
Made from neutral alcohol steeped with a wide range of herbs and spices (juniper, anise, vanilla, and getting more obscure from there), Galliano has a distinctive vanilla sweetness that sets it apart from other herbal liqueurs, so when you're mixing with it, no simple syrup or other sweeteners are required. It's also full-throttle, at 42.5% ABV, a nudge higher than your standard spirit. It’s boozy like Sambuca, rather than gentler like an amaro.
Easy: Galliano and Root Beer
When we take a sniff of Galliano, the herbal-earthy-vanilla aroma has us thinking one thing: root beer. So if you're going for a simple mixer, try it out; the Galliano slides in seamlessly, just intensifying all those root beer flavors we already love.
Instructions: Add an ounce and a half of Galliano to a tall glass with ice. Fill with four ounces of root beer (we like IBC). Garnish with a lemon wheel.
Intermediate: Galliano Old-Fashioned
Clocking in at over 40% alcohol, Galliano is as boozy as a spirit, which is why we envisioned it in the most classic of cocktails: the Old Fashioned. Since its herbal sweetness would be a little overwhelming on its own, we're pairing it with equal parts bourbon, which works nicely with Galliano's vanilla flavors while smoothing out its edges somewhat. Since Galliano is on the sweeter side, no sugar is necessary—but don't leave out the bitters, they're key to such a simple cocktail.
Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine an ounce of bourbon, an ounce of Galliano, 2 dashes of orange bitters and 2 dashes of Angostura. Give that a good, long stir, then strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with an orange and a lemon peel, twisting them on top of the glass to release their oils on the top.
Advanced: Harvey Wallbanger
The Harvey Wallbanger may win an award for the best-worst cocktail name in history. But it's a Galliano classic (inasmuch as any cocktail from the '70s is classic). Use good orange juice here—fresh-squeezed, if you can. Orange is the dominant flavor, with the Galliano sneaking around the edges and the result is something like an herbaceous Creamsicle.
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine an ounce and a half of vodka, half an ounce of Galliano, and two ounces of orange juice. Dash in some orange bitters. Shake all that up and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with an orange wedge and/or brandied cherries.
NOTE: You can also just stir together all ingredients in a tall glass with ice, no shaker required; we just like the elegance of this cocktail glass, and if you're going to serve it sans-ice, it needs an icy shake first.