[Tasting the Fruits]Liqueurs

Also known as Cordials, Eaux de Vie, Schnapps, and Spirits

Years ago, I was killing time, window shopping in Baltimore's Harborplace. In the Light Street Pavilion (the "food hall"), there was a store on the ground floor called Books for Cooks, and I found myself in there browsing over the titles. There on the shelf I saw an unassuming book called Homemade Liqueurs, and I was intrigued by the prospect that I could really make peach schnapps and Midori at home. I read the synopsis on the back, and it described a process so simple and easy that even I could do it. So I decided to buy the book and give it a try. Although I later discovered that one can't in fact make Midori this way (or, at least, the process has proven elusive), and true Schnapps is a different beast entirely, I've been making some delicious liqueurs ever since.

By far the best book on the subject, concise and to-the-point, enlightening and enjoyable, is that very same Homemade Liqueurs by Dona and Mel Meilach (ISBN: 0-8092-7582-1). Last I checked, though, it was out of print and unavailable. All is not lost, however.  Homemade Liqueurs has been reincarnated into a little book called The Best 50 Homemade Liqueurs, which is currently available from many bookstores, as well as Amazon.com.  While not as complete as the first one, it still contains lots of good information.  And it's only $5.  You can also find copies of the original readily in used bookstores and even some cookbook stores.  I'm told it sells for anywhere from $10 to $20.  It's well worth the investment in time and money.

However, that's not to disparage the other books found in my bibliography.  While they may not touch on background and theory anywhere near as much as the Meilach book, they each contain a wealth of recipes.  And beyond the recipes themselves, they each embody a different philosophy of liqueur-making, so there's a lot to be learned from them about approach and style of liqueur-making. And of course, still more liqueur recipes are likely to show up in various dessert or specialty cookbooks. We even found one for garlic liqueur in a "garlic lovers'" cookbook. It probably makes a good marinade...

In this site, I try to present some of the lessons I've learned about this art (it's difficult to call it a science), discuss what liqueurs are and aren't, offer some recipes, and generally make an introductory reference for anyone who wants to try their hand. It's no substitute for a good book on the subject, but may offer some enlightenment about topics glossed over elsewhere. If there's a question you want answered, send me mail, and I'd be glad to both answer your questions, and incorporate the answers here. And down at the bottom of this page, you can find whatever recipes I happen to be developing right now, so you can see the process as it's happening.

Topics of interest in liqueur-making:

I have included some of the liqueur recipes I use myself, some I've never tried, and some submitted by other people, so you can see how these recipes go together. Enjoy.

If you want a specific recipe, I recommend you go to the Flavoring Chart, which has links to all the recipes, and see if I've got anything for you. In that chart, you can find a sizeable table of liqueurs and what (in a general sense) they're made of, as well as any recipes for them I might have.  There are many more liqueurs listed than I have recipes for; it's intended to also be a starting place for someone hoping to invent a new liqueur recipe.

There are a few "signature" recipes we do, including some that we've developed ourselves.  And so, in addition to the recipes themselves, the descriptions of these also might contain a longer description of the process we used to develop them.  It can, of course, be simply synopsized as, "Guess.  Make the liqueur.  Guess again.  Repeat until it tastes good."  I include the pages for these "signature" recipes below.

All photographs Copyright © 1996 or 1997, Donna M. Dubé. All rights reserved.

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