The History of Liqueur


A growing interest in cocktails has secured some new interest in liqueurs over the past couple of years and let’s be honest, where would a White Russian, a Springbokkie, a B-52 or an Espresso Martini be without liqueurs, right?

In this feature, we are going to focus on the history of liqueurs and explore which ones are crucial for a well stocked home bar.

Liquor Vs. Liqueur

A while back, the differences between a liquor and a liqueur were easily separated. Vodka, Gin, Whisky, Rum and Tequila were all liquors, whereas Amarula, Kahlua, Baileys and Schnapps were all liqueurs.

Today, with many of the traditional spirits such as Vodka and Tequila being flavoured, it has become rather difficult for many to distinguish between the two. The rule of thumb to separate the two is that liqueurs are sweet and syrupy for the most part, whereas liquors are not. In addition, liqueurs usually have a much lower alcohol content, often between 15-30% ABV. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule.

The History of Liqueur

Alchemist Catalan Arnold de Vila Nova, who was born in 1240, was the first person to capture the subject of flavoured alcohols on paper. He wrote, in The Boke of Wine, of the distillation of wine into aqua vitae and the subsequent flavouring of these spirits with various herbs and spices. He also wrote of the restorative and life giving properties of these waters.

By the fourteenth century, the drinking of these liqueurs had become popular in Italy and spread into France.

Between the fourteenth century and the early seventeenth century considerable production of these liqueurs was from the alchemists and the monastic orders.

By the middle to the end of the sixteenth century several distilleries had been formed which were producing commercial quantities of liqueurs. These included the Dutch distillery of Bols, founded in 1575 and Der Lachs, a German distillery which began producing Danzig Goldwasser in 1598.

Fun Facts

The word ‘liqueur’ is derived from the Latin liquefacere which means ‘to melt, or disolve’. This refers to the methods of flavouring the brandy or whisky which forms the base of the liqueur.

Legend has it that apricot pits were distilled four centuries ago to make amaretto.

In parts of the United States, liqueurs may also be called cordials or schnapps.

October 16th is National Liqueur Day.

All liqueurs are blends, even those with a primary flavor.

Recommended Liqueurs

Some spirits are necessary, some are optional. You always need a good bottle of vodka in the house, but it doesn’t mean you need a marshmallow flavoured one. Here’s some liqueurs your home bar really can’t live without…

liqeuers south africa e1505221045957 The History of Liqueur

Jazz up your home enterainting game with exciting new cream liqueurs by Natures Own Beverages (Pty) Ltd. The company that brought you the oh-so-yummy iNCA Caramel Gold liqueur, Cookies&Crazy cream liqueur and Marshmallow Pop! cream liqueur now launches its latest flavour innovations: CuppnChino Red Velvet and Django’s cream liqueurs.

The liqueurs are produced in Bonnievale, South Africa. Fresh cream is received within 24 hours of the liqueur being made, then blended with premium distilled spirits and high quality ingredients to produce each delicious starburst-in-a-bottle.

These creamy delights are available in Paraguay, Mauritius, Brazil, New Zealand, the Netherlands, the USA, and South Africa . In South Africa, they’re available at most liquor retail outlets countrywide and sells for around R160/bottle.