Spirits Education


Vodka is the best mixing liquor of all of the base spirits as it has no distinct color, taste or aroma and is therefore essential to every bar. With a bottle of vodka and a few additional ingredients one can make a variety of cocktails

The standard method of making vodka is by fermenting and distilling grain, although potatoes and beets are two popular alternatives. Vodka is a rectified spirit, meaning it is distilled at least three times; it is then filtered through charcoal. Vodka requires no aging and is ready to drink right away. Many types of vodka are also infused with fruit or spice flavorings to create popular flavored vodkas like lemon, berry and pepper.

Since vodka has no distinct taste a stylistic difference in the different brands is their texture on the tongue, or mouth feel. Two brands that represent the two prominent styles are Absolut and Stolichnaya. Absolut has an oily, silky sweet texture, while Stolichnaya is clean and watery with an almost medicinal finish.

Most vodka is 40 percent alcohol however a distinct difference is the heat that is revealed on the tongue, this plays an important role in brand choice. Less expensive brands tend to burn in the mouth and throat while premium brands are quite smooth and excellent for shots and Martinis.


Gin is light-bodied, liquor made of a mash of cereal grain, usually corn, rye, barley and wheat that has few congeners. The main flavor and aroma notes are contributed by juniper berries. Other botanicals that are often used in gin include coriander, lemon and orange peels, fennel, cassia, anise, almond and angelica. Gin ranges between 80 and 94 proof and manufacturers cannot, by law, qualify their gin by age.

London Dry is the benchmark of quality in the world of gin. The flowery and aromatic characteristics of this type of gin are a result of botanicals added during the 2nd or 3rd distillation. The vapors from these flavoring agents reach the alcohol as they pass through a specialized still with an attachment called a gin head. Dry gins are preferred for making Martini’s.


Rum is one of the oldest and most varied of distilled spirits. It is distilled from the extracted juice of the sugar cane plant, or in some cases the by-product of the refining process known as molasses. Almost all rum is aged in charred oak casks from anything up to and beyond 30 years (although often less than 15), inheriting a golden to dark brown color over time. Rum aged in steel tanks remains colorless.

The Caribbean is host to a variety of the world’s rum products, and is also the origin of rum dating back to the 17th century. Rum products often differ greatly. Puerto Rican Rum for example, is golden, light-bodied rum aged for at least 3 years, whereas Jamaican Rum is rich dark rum, naturally fermented for about 3 weeks, distilled twice in pot stills and aged in oak casks for at least five years.


Tequila is rich in a history far beyond the popular margarita. Originally used during rituals beginning 2,000 years ago, tequila has evolved into the potent spirit we drink today. The town of Tequila was founded in 1656 and shortly thereafter tequila was produced throughout Mexico, with Jose Cuervo being the first to commercialize the product. The late 1800’s saw the first imports to the US and the following Mexican Revolution and World Wars added to the international popularity of tequila.

The Agave Plant

Tequila is made by distilling the fermented juices of the blue agave plant (a member of the lily family) with water. After 10 years of growing, the agave plant is ready to be used in the production of tequila. The large bulbous plants are quartered and slowly baked in steam ovens until all starches are converted to sugars. This product is crushed in order to extract the plant’s sweet juices that are then fermented.

Tequila is distilled in pot stills until it reaches 110 proof. The result is a clear spirit with a significant amount of congeners. Some tequileros re-distill the tequila to produce cleaner, blander liquor. The darker varieties get their color from the addition of caramel or, in the case of high-quality tequila, from barrel aging. Other tequilas are flavored with small amounts of Sherry, prune concentrate and coconut. Most tequila requires no aging.

4 types of Tequila

Silver or Blanco/White Tequila

Silver Tequila is a clear spirit that can be up to100% agave. These tequilas are aged no more 60 days in stainless steel tanks, if they are aged at all. Silver tequila is primarily used for mixing, especially in fruit-based drinks.

Gold Tequila

Gold Tequila is unaged silver tequila that is colored and flavored with caramel. These tequilas blends are very sweet and smooth making them perfect for shots and frozen margaritas

Reposado Tequila

Reposado, or “rested,” Tequilas are aged in wood tanks or casks for a minimum of 2 months. The higher-quality Reposados are aged from 3-9 months. This type of tequila has a robust flavor, is the best-selling in Mexico and can be up to 100% agave. Quality Reposado and Añejo Tequilas are excellent sippers.

Añejo Tequila

Añejo Tequila is “old” tequila. These tequilas are aged in white or French oak barrels (and often used Bourbon barrels) for a minimum of 1 year producing a dark, very robust spirit. The best are aged between 18 months and 3 years while the best 100% agave tequila is aged for up to 4 years. Many tequileros believe that aging longer than 4 years ruins the earthy flavor tones. Añejo is best enjoyed in a snifter to appreciate its aroma.


Mezcal can use any of 8 approved varieties of the agave plant unlike tequila which is only made of blue agave. This is where the worm comes into the story. While the reason is obscure, one version says that the worm was placed in the bottles to prove that the alcohol is high enough to preserve a worm intact. The worm itself is the larva of 1 of 2 moths that live on the agave plant and are safe to consume, as many frat boys have proven. Top-quality Mescals’ do not have a worm.


The world of whiskey is a complex maze of grains, flavors and distillation processes. Four countries produce distinctly different whiskies: Ireland (Irish Whiskey), Scotland (Scotch), America (Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey, Rye Whiskey, Blended American Whiskey), and Canada (Canadian Whiskey), although whiskey is made throughout the world. This wide market ensures that almost everyone will find a brand or type that they prefer and, when asked, every whiskey connoisseur has a pointed opinion on which is the best whiskey.

Irish Whiskey:
Considered to be the father of all whiskey, Irish Whiskey is often a blend of pot-stilled malted and unmalted whiskey and column-stilled corn-based grain whiskey or, as in the case of Bushmills, triple distilled malted barley (single malt). This complex blend and the fact that Irish Whiskey malt is dried in a closed kiln, away from fire and smoke, distinguish it from its closest whiskey cousin, Scotch. Great care is taken during distillation to keep the temperature low so as not to break the delicate sweet, toasty honey flavor. It is aged in used bourbon (or various wine) barrels for at least 3 years.

Scotch Whisky:
By tradition and standard, Scotch Whisky uses the spelling for whisky without the “e”. The distinct smoky flavor of this distilled classic is due to the malt drying process. Part of which is done over a peat-fueled fire, which allows the smoke to come in direct contact with the malt. Although smoke does define Scotch, each region of Scotland produces different and distinct flavor characteristics. When choosing a Scotch you will find either “single malt” or “blended” on the label along with an age statement. In the case of blended, the age is that of the youngest whiskey in the blend.

Single-Malt Scotch Whisky
Single malt Scotch is produced by a single distillery. There are around 100 distilleries in Scotland that produce a single-malt whisky and each has their own distinct flavor characteristics and notes. After double distilling the malted barley in pot stills, a 140 proof spirit called “plain British spirit” is pumped into oak casks and is aged for at least 3 years. Single malt Scotch whiskies have more flavor than blended Scotch and are also used to create those blends.

Blended Scotch Whisky
The majority of Scotch sold is blended and it is preferred for scotch cocktails. The harsher tones of single-malts are dampened by blending them with grain whiskies in a cask for several months after each has been aged separately. Scotch blends are an art and each Scotch house has its own secret recipe. While exact blends are unknown it is typical for 20-25 whiskies to be used in a blend with around 20-50% of those comprised of single malt whiskies. The higher end blended Scotch will have more single malt which leads to a deeper flavor.


Lowland Malt – A light flavor with a touch of smoke that takes a well-tuned palate to recognize. Typically aged in used bourbon barrels, this Scotch has sweet vanilla characteristics

Speyside Malt – This style remains light, but has fruity notes – that of apple and pear – with grassy tones and little to no smokiness. The fruit tones are sometimes imparted from aging in used Scotch casks, or “refill” casks, and forms a nice background for blends.

Sherry Cask Malt – Due to this whiskey’s aging in used sherry casks this style is fruiter, but finds a balance with a slightly more intense smoke. It is a long lasting, dry fruit with a rich, full body.

Highland Malt – Now we’re getting some smoke. This Scotch is characteristically warm and robust, and the location of the distilleries adds a salty, “maritime” flavor aspect to the whiskey.

Island Malt – Ford calls this amount of smoke “Johnnie Walker Black Label territory.” It has a hearty peat and is considerably smoky although within reason. The finish is most remarkable with notes of pepper.

Islay Malt – Although this usually the lightest single malt in color because it is often aged in refill casks. Islay’s are famous for their smoke, especially their ember-like finish that some palates can handle and some cannot. It is very warm and intensely smoky with a dry finish.

North American Whiskies

Most North American whiskies are made in column stills. The United States government requires that all whiskies:

  • Be made from a grain mash.
  • Be distilled at 90% ABV or less.
  • Be reduced to no more than 62.5% ABV (125 proof) before being aged in oak barrels (except for Corn whiskey, which does not have to be aged in wood).
  • Have the aroma, taste, and characteristics that are generally attributed to whiskey.
  • Be bottled at no less that 40% ABV (80 proof).


Classifications of North American Whiskies

North American whiskies are essentially classified by the type or variety of grains in the mash bill, the percentage or proof of alcohol at which they are distilled, and the length and manner of their aging.

Bourbon Whisky must contain a minimum of 51% corn, be produced in the United States, be distilled at less than 80% ABV (160 proof) and be aged for a minimum of two years in new charred barrels, although in practice virtually all straight whiskies are aged at least four years. Any Bourbon, or any other domestic or imported whiskey, for that matter, that has been aged less than four years must contain an age statement on the label. Small Batch Bourbons are bourbons that bottled from a small group of specially selected barrels that are blended together. It should be noted though that each distiller has their own interpretation of what constitutes a “small batch.” Single Barrel Bourbon is Bourbon from one specifically chosen cask.

Tennessee Whisky must contain a minimum of 51% corn, be produced in Tennessee, be distilled at less than 80% ABV (160 proof), filtered through a bed of sugar maple charcoal, and be aged for a minimum of two years in new charred barrels.

Rye Whisky must contain a minimum of 51% rye grain, be distilled at less than 80% ABV (160 proof) and be aged for a minimum of two years in new charred barrels. A small amount of straight Rye whiskey is bottled and marketed, but most of the industry production is blended into other whiskies to give them additional character and structure. Canadians frequently refer to their whisky as “Rye,” though it is in fact made primarily from corn or wheat.

Blended American Whiskey is required to contain at least 20% straight whiskey; with the balance being unaged neutral spirit or, in a few cases, high-proof light whiskey. It has a general whiskey flavor profile (most closely resembling Bourbon), but lacks any defining taste characteristic.

Corn Whiskey is a commercial product that must contain at least 80% corn, be distilled at less than 80% ABV (160 proof) and be aged for a minimum of two years in new or used uncharred barrels.

Moonshine Whiskey (a.k.a. white lightning, Corn likker, or white dog) is distilled from a varied mix of corn and sugar and is aged in Mason jars and jugs for the length of time that it takes the customers to get home, or the Dukes of Hazzard to make a delivery in the General Lee.

Canadian Whisky is made primarily from corn or wheat, with a supplement of rye, barley, or barley malt. There are no Canadian government requirements when it comes to the percentages of grains used in the mash bill. Unlike Bourbons, they are aged, primarily in used oak barrels. The minimum age for Canadian Whisky is three years, with most brands being aged four to six years. Virtually all Canadian whiskeys (except the pot-distilled malt whiskies of Glenora in Nova Scotia) are blended from different grain whiskies of different ages. Bulk Canadian Whiskeys are usually shipped in barrels to their destination country where they are bottled. These bulk whiskies are usually bottled at 40% ABV (80 proof) and are usually no more than four years old. “Bottled in Canada” whiskies generally have older components in their blends and are bottled at 43.4% ABV (86.8 proof).

United States

Kentucky produces all types of North American whiskies except for Tennessee and Canadian. It has the largest concentration of distilleries on the continent.

Tennessee started out as Bourbon country, but today its two remaining distilleries specialize in the distinctive Tennessee style of whiskey.

Other states-primarily Indiana, Illinois, Virginia, and Missouri have distilleries that produce straight whiskeys, although some of these plants are currently mothballed. California has one tiny micro-distillery that produces Rye. Additionally there are a number of distilling plants scattered around the country that rectify (dilute and blend), process and bottle spirits that were originally distilled elsewhere. These distilleries, in addition to sometimes bottling Bourbon that has been shipped to them in bulk, may also create their own blended whiskies. These whiskies tend to be relatively inexpensive “well” brands that are sold mainly to taverns and bars for making mixed drinks.


Ontario has the largest concentration of whisky distilleries in Canada, three. Alberta has two and Manitoba, Quebec, and Nova Scotia each have one. With the exception of Glenora in Nova Scotia, which is a malt whisky distillery, all of the Canadian distilleries produce only blended Canadian whisky.

Whisky dictionary

Bonded Whiskey is 100 proof Bourbon from a single distillery that was produced in a single “season” and then aged for at least four years in a government-supervised “bonded” warehouse. Distillers originally did this in order to avoid having to pay the excise tax until the whiskey was aged and ready for market. Consumers came to (incorrectly) regard the “bottled in bond” designation as a statement of quality. Bonded whiskies are not much of a factor in today’s market, although they still exist.

The Mash is the mix of crushed grain (including some malt that contains enzymes to break down grain starches into sugars) and hot water from which the distiller draws a liquid extract called wort. The wort is fermented into a simple beer called the wash, which is then distilled.

Sour Mash is the fermentation process by which a percentage of a previous fermentation is added to a new batch as a “starter” to get the fermentation going and maintain a level of consistency from batch to batch. A sweet mash means that only fresh yeast is added to a new batch to start fermentation.

Straight Whiskey is unblended whiskey that contains no neutral spirit. Bourbon, Tennessee, Rye, and Corn whiskey are straight whiskies. There is also a spirit, simply called “straight whiskey,” that is made from a mixture of grains, none of which accounts for 51% of the mash bill.


Grape Brandy is Brandy distilled from fermented grape juice or crushed but not pressed grape pulp and skin. This spirit is aged in wooden casks (usually oak) which colors it, mellows the palate, and adds additional aromas and flavors.

Fruit Brandy is the default term for all Brandies that are made from fermenting fruit other than grapes. It should not be confused with Fruit-Flavored Brandy, which is grape Brandy that has been flavored with the extract of another fruit. Fruit Brandies, except those made from berries, are generally distilled from fruit wines. Berries tend to lack enough sugar to make a wine with sufficient alcohol for proper distillation, and thus are soaked (macerated) in high-proof spirit to extract their flavor and aroma. The extract is then distilled once at a low proof. Calvados, the Apple Brandy from the Normandy region of Northwestern France, is probably the best known type of Fruit Brandy. Eau-de-vie (“water of life”) is the default term in French for spirits in general, and specifically for colorless fruit brandy, particularly from the Alsace region of France and from California.

Brandy, like Rum and Tequila, is an agricultural spirit. Unlike grain spirits such as Whisky, Vodka, and Gin, which are made throughout the year from grain that can be harvested and stored, Brandy is dependent on the seasons, the ripening of the base fruit, and the production of the wine from which it is made. Types of Brandies, originally at least, tended to be location-specific. (Cognac, for example, is a town and region in France that gave its name to the local Brandy.) Important Brandy-making regions, particularly in Europe, further differentiate their local spirits by specifying the types of grapes that can be used and the specific areas (appellation) in which the grapes used for making the base wine can be grown.

French Brandies: Cognac and Armagnac

Cognac is the best known type of Brandy in the world, a benchmark by which most other Brandies are judged. The Cognac region is located on the west-central Atlantic coast of France, just north of Bordeaux, in the departments of Charente and Charente-Maritime. The region is further subdivided into six growing zones: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Bois Ordinaries, Borderies, Fins Bois, and Bons Bois. The first two of these regions produce the best Cognac and will frequently be so designated on bottle labels. Cognacs labeled Fine Champagne are a blend of Petite and Grande Champagne. The primary grapes used in making Cognac are Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, and Colombard. The wines made from these grapes are thin, tart, and low in alcohol; poor characteristics for table wines, but oddly enough, perfect for making Brandy. Cognac is double distilled in pot stills and then aged in casks made from Limousin or Troncais oak. All Cognacs start out in new oak to mellow the fiery spirit and give them color. Batches that are chosen for long-term aging are, after a few years, transferred to used, or “seasoned,” casks that impart less of the oak flavor notes while the Brandy matures.

Virtually all Cognacs are a blend of Brandies from different vintages, and frequently, different growing zones. Even those from single vineyards or distilleries will be a mix of Brandies from different casks. As in Champagne, the production of local vineyards is sold to Cognac houses, each of which stores and ages Cognacs from different suppliers and then employs master blenders to draw from these disparate Brandies to create continuity in the house blends. Because there are no age statements on Cognacs, the industry has adopted some generally accepted terms to differentiate Cognacs. It is important to note that these terms have no legal status, and each Cognac shipper uses them according to his own criteria. V.S./V.S.P./Three Star: (V.S., very superior; V.S.P., very superior pale) A minimum of two years aging in a cask, although the industry average is four to five years. V.S.O.P.: (very superior old pale) A minimum of four years cask aging for the youngest Cognac in the blend, with the industry average being between 10 and 15 years.

X.O./Luxury: (X.O., extra old) A minimum of six years aging for the youngest cognac in the blend, with the average age running 20 years or older. All Cognac houses maintain inventories of old vintage Cognacs to use in blending these top of the line brands. The oldest Cognacs are removed from their casks in time and stored in glass demijohns (large jugs) to prevent further loss from evaporation and to limit excessively woody and astringent flavors. Luxury Cognacs are the very finest Cognacs of each individual Cognac house.

Armagnac is the oldest type of Brandy in France, with documented references to distillation dating back to the early 15th century. The Armagnac region is located in the heart of the ancient province of Gascony in the southwest corner of France. As in Cognac, there are regional growing zones: Bas-Armagnac, Haut Armagnac, and Tenareze. The primary grapes used in making Armagnac are likewise the Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, and Colombard. But distillation takes place in the unique alembic Armagnacais, a type of column still that is even more “inefficient” than a typical Cognac pot still.

The resulting brandy has a rustic, assertive character and aroma that requires additional cask aging to mellow it out. The best Armagnac’s are aged in casks made from the local Monlezun oak. In recent years Limousin and Troncais oak casks have been added to the mix of casks as suitable Monlezun oak becomes harder to find.

Most Armagnac’s are blends, but unlike Cognac, single vintages and single vineyard bottlings can be found. The categories of Armagnac are generally the same as those of Cognac (V.S., V.S.O.P., X.O., etc.). Blended Armagnac’s frequently have a greater percentage of older vintages in their mix than comparable Cognacs, making them a better value for the discerning buyer.

Pomace Brandies: Getting to grips with Grappa

Italy produces a substantial amount of Grappa, both of the raw, firewater variety and the more elegant, artisanal efforts that are made from one designated grape type and frequently packaged in hand-blown bottles. Both types of Grappa can be unaged or aged for a few years in old casks that will tame the hard edge of the spirit without imparting much flavor or color. Marc from France is produced in all of the nations wine-producing regions, but is mostly consumed locally. Marc de gewürztraminer from Alsace is particularly noteworthy because it retains some of the distinctive perfumed nose and spicy character of the grape. California pomace Brandies from the United States are broadly in the Italian style and are usually called Grappas, even when they are made from non-Italian grape varieties. This is also true of the pomace Brandies from Canada.

United States Brandies

Brandy production in California dates back to the Spanish missions in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In the years following the Civil War, Brandy became a major industry, with a substantial export trade to Europe by the end of the century. For a time Leland Stanford, founder of Stanford University, was the worlds largest brandy producer. Phylloxera and National Prohibition almost shut down the industry in the 1920s.

Repeal started things up again, but as with the bourbon industry, the advent of World War II resulted in the brandy producers further marking time. Soon after the end of the war the industry commissioned the Department of Viticulture and Oenology at the University of California at Davis to develop a prototype “California-style” brandy. It had a clean palate, was lighter in style than most European Brandies, and had a flavor profile that made it a good mixer. Starting in the late 1940s, the California brandy producers began to change over to this new style.

Contemporary California Brandies are made primarily in column stills from table grape varieties such as the Thompson Seedless and Flame Tokay, although a handful of small new-generation Cognac-inspired pot distillers, such as Jepson and RMS, are using the classic Ugni Blanc, Colombard, and Folle Blanche grapes. California Brandies are aged for two to 12 years in used American oak (both Brandy and Bourbon casks) to limit woodiness in the palate, although the pot distillers also use French oak. Several California distillers, most notably Korbel, have utilized the Spanish solera method of maturing their Brandy. California Brandies do not use quality designations such as V.S.O.P. or stars. The more expensive brands will usually contain a percentage of older vintages and pot-

Apple and Other Fruit Brandies

Normandy is one of the few regions in France that does not have a substantial grape wine industry. Instead it is apple country, with a substantial tradition of producing hard and sweet cider that in turn can be distilled into an Apple Brandy known as Calvados. The local cider apples, which tend to be small and tart, are closer in type to crab apples than to modern table apples. This spirit has its own appellations, with the best brands coming from Appellation Controlee Pays dAuge near the Atlantic seaport of Deauville, and the rest in 10 adjacent regions that are designated Appellation Reglementee. Most Pays dAuge and some of the better Appellation Reglementee are produced in pot stills. All varieties of Calvados are aged in oak casks for a minimum of two years. Cognac-style quality and age terms such as V.S.O.P. and Hors dAge are frequently used on labels, but have no legal meaning. In the United States, Applejack, as Apple Brandy is called locally, is thought by many to be the first spirit produced in the British colonies. This colonial tradition has continued on the East Coast with the Lairds Distillery in New Jersey (established in 1780 and the oldest distillery in America). Apple Brandies that are more like eau-de-vie are produced in California and Oregon.


Liqueur, flavored and sweetened distilled liquor, with alcohol content ranging from 24 percent to 60 percent by volume (48–120 U.S. proof). Liqueurs are produced by combining a base spirit, usually brandy, with fruits or herbs and are sweetened by the addition of sugar syrup composing more than 2 1/2 percent of the total beverage by volume.

The word liqueur is derived from the Latin liquefier, meaning “to make liquid.” Liqueurs were probably first produced commercially by medieval monks and alchemists. They have been called balms, crèmes, elixirs, and oils and have been used over the centuries as medicines and tonics, love potions, and aphrodisiacs.

Fruit liqueurs are produced by the infusion method, in which fruit is steeped in the spirit, which absorbs aroma, flavor, and color. Plant liqueurs, naturally colorless, are produced by either percolation or distillation. Percolation is accomplished in an apparatus much like a coffee percolator. Leaves or herbs are placed in the top section, and the base spirit in the bottom section is pumped up over the flavoring material, extracting and carrying down the flavor constituents. The distillation method uses plants, seeds, roots, or herbs as flavoring material. They are softened in the base spirit, then combined with additional spirits and distilled. After the base spirit is completely flavored, it is sweetened and filtered. Plant liqueurs are frequently colored with vegetable colorings’. Liqueurs may be aged or bottled immediately.

Generic liqueurs, marketed under accepted common names, frequently vary according to brand because of formula differences. They include apricot liqueur; crème d’ananas, flavored with pineapple; crème de cacao, flavored with cocoa and vanilla beans; crème de framboises, made from raspberries; crème de menthe, mint-flavored; crème de noyaux, with bitter-almond flavor derived from fruit stones; crème de violette, also called parfait amour, with oils from both violets and vanilla beans; Curaçao, with flavor from the dried peel of the green oranges of the island of Curaçao; Danziger Goldwasser, spicy and containing tiny gold specks; kümmel, flavored with caraway seed; prunelle, with plum flavor; sloe gin, flavored with the fruit of the blackthorn bush; and Triple Sec, a colorless Curaçao.

Proprietary brands, usually prepared from secret formulas, are made by individual producers, who market their products under registered brand names. French proprietary brands include Bénédictine, a plant liqueur first produced in 1510 from one of the most closely guarded of all formulas; Chartreuse, made from a formula developed in 1607, including yellow and green plant liqueurs, both with spicy and aromatic flavor; Cointreau, a proprietary brand of Triple Sec; Grand Marnier, produced in the Cognac region, an orange Curaçao; and Vieille Cure, a plant liqueur made in Bordeaux. Italian liqueurs include Liquore Galliano and Strega, both with spicy flavors. British brands include Drambuie, with Scotch whisky as a base and flavored with honey, made from a French formula taken to Scotland in 1745; and Irish Mist, a spicy liqueur made with Irish whiskey and honey. Cherry Heering is a cherry liqueur produced in Denmark. Liqueurs manufactured in the United States include Forbidden Fruit, made with brandy and grapefruit; and Crème Yvette, with violet flavor and color. Coffee-flavored brands include Kahlúa, from Mexico; and Tia Maria, using rum as the base spirit, from Jamaica. O Cha, with the flavor of green tea, and Midori, with the flavor of melon, is from Japan. Van der Hum is a spicy and aromatic product made in South Africa.

Liqueurs, sweet in flavor and with ingredients promoting digestion, are popular after-dinner drinks. They may be served straight, poured over ice, or mixed in an endless variety of combinations that may include liquors, brandies, and cream. Liqueurs are also used as flavorings in various dessert dishes.