Cream versus crème, liquor versus liqueur-the world of spirits can be a whirlwind of like-sounding words. We will help you sift through the vocab so you know just what to grab next time you’re in the aisle.
Liqueurs are created by infusing a distilled spirit (otherwise known as a liquor)-such as whiskey, rum, vodka or brandy-with flavoring agents, then sweetening it with sugar, syrup or honey. It wasn’t until the early 1970s that cream liqueurs hit the market, utilizing dairy cream that made an ideal addition to coffee and other mixed drinks.
Cream liqueurs-often referred to as cordials-add a jolt of sweetness to cocktails, sometimes incorporating hints of exotic herbs, spices and fruits. The flavor selection ranges from nutty, toasty nougat and chocolate options to raspberry and pineapple. Amarula cream blends fresh cream with the pulp of the exotic fruit found in the African marula tree; limoncello cream offers lemon meringue pie aromas; and you can even find cream liqueur with notes of pumpkin pie.
Don’t be confused by spelling: Cream liqueurs are not the same as crème liqueurs. Crème liqueurs such as crème de menthe, crème de cacao, etc., have a single dominant flavor, but are not made with dairy cream. They are heavily sweetened and have a thick, syrupy consistency-though they all can help you whip up a tasty cocktail.
Poured over ice, mixed in with coffee, or shaken with other spirits, cream cordials-and the vast array of other liqueur options-help you create sweet elixirs limited only by imagination.