Top Shelf Liqueur Picks From The Distiller Community

These liqueurs were the Distiller community's favorite top shelf picks last week.
Jun 29, 2020
  • 10
    10 Patrón XO Cafe
    88
    Roast
    Patrón XO Cafe is a coffee liqueur made by using Patrón Silver, a 100% blue agave tequila, as its base. Neutral spirits or rum are more common to use when making coffee liqueurs. It is bottled at 35% ABV.
  • 9
    9 Campari
    90
    Bitter & Fruity
    Campari was created circa 1860 by a Lombardy-born man named Gaspare Campari. He worked his way up to barman in a cafe in Torino before moving to Milano where he created his renowned bitter concoction. His namesake bitters was first known as Bitter all’usa d’Holanda and its ingredients have never been disclosed other than to say that “it is the result of an infusion of bitter herbs, aromatic plants, and fruit in alcohol and water”. The only other change to the original recipe occured in 2006 when carmine (a natural dye sourced from crushed cochineal insects) ceased to be used for coloring. Now artificial colors are used.
  • 8
    8 Fernet-Branca
    95
    Bitter & Spicy
    Fernet-Branca was created in 1845 by Bernardino Branca in Milan where it is still made today. It is made from a proprietary recipe of 27 different herbs, roots, and spices only some of which are disclosed. They include: aloe ferox, bitter orange, chamomile, cardamom, cinchona bark, cinnamon, galangal, gentian, iris, laurel, laraha, linden, myrrh, zedoary and saffron. It is aged in 15,000-20,000 liter Slovenian oak vats for at least a year. Due to the popularity of the brand in Argentina, a second distillery located outside of Buenos Aires was founded in 1941. Fernet-Branca & Coke is how it is most consumed there.
  • 7
    7 St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
    94
    Floral & Fruity
    St. Germain took the cocktail world by storm when it debuted as the first available elderflower liqueur in 2007. To make the liqueur, elderflower petals are macerated in grape eau-de-vie, with the resulting combination then sweetened. St. Germain was created by the late Robert Cooper, and is now a part of the Bacardi portfolio.
  • 6
    6 Aperol
    92
    Fruity & Sweet
    Aperol first debuted a century ago, in 1919. Known for its orange hue, and today for the ubiquitous and eponymous Aperol Spritz, Aperol is flavored with ingredients including cinchona, rhubarb, and gentian. The bittersweet liqueur has been a part of the Campari portfolio since 2003.
  • 5
    5 Cynar
    90
    Bitter & Herbal
    Pronounced chee-nar, this Italian digestivo first hit the Italian market in the 1950s. Cynar was founded by Venetian entrepreneur Angelo Valle Molle and is distilled from a blend of 13 herbs, as well as artichoke leaves—the star ingredient from which the amaro gets its name. The unique moniker, which often stumps drinkers, comes from cynarin, a property found in artichokes, and likely also for the vegetable’s botanical name, Cynara scolymus. It is bottled at 16.5% ABV.
  • 4
    4 Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
    92
    Sweet & Fruity
    Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur is a clear cherry liqueur made from Sour Marasca cherries which are cultivated exclusively by the Luxardo family in the orchards of the Euganean Hills in Veneto. The cherries including the stones, branches and leaves are placed in larchwood vats for two years to infuse with neutral alcohol. Then the infusion including the solids is distilled and the heart of the cherry distillate is aged in large Finnish ash wood vats for a 12-18 months. Water and sugar is added prior to bottling at 64 proof.
  • 3
    3 Pimm's No. 1 Cup
    90
    Fruity
    Pimm's No. 1 is the most popular of the liqueur category known as cups. First created in 1840, No. 1 uses gin as its base along with a secret blend of spices, fruit, and botanicals. There have been other Pimm's over the years; No. 2 had a Scotch base, No. 3 used brandy, No. 4 was rum, No. 5 rye, and No. 6 used Vodka. They have all had been discontinued, but Diageo which currently owns Pimm's, rebranded No. 3 as Winter's Cup and it still uses brandy as its base. Every bar, both at home and otherwise, has their own recipe for their perfect Pimm's Cup cocktail. Some use lemonade, others lemon-lime soda or ginger ale. The sky is the limit for fruit additions, but strawberry and cucumber slices are quite common, especially during Wimbledon.
  • 2
    2 Ramazzotti Amaro
    90
    Spicy & Herbal
    Ramazzotti Amaro was created in 1815 by Ausano Ramazzotti who owned an herbalist shop in Milano. The bitter liqueur includes 33 herbs and roots including angelica root, bitter orange, cardamom, clove, galangal, myrrh, rose petals, star anise, sweet orange, and vanilla. Ausano opened up a cafe near La Scala theater where his customers could consume his amaro instead of coffee. Although it was crafted in Milan, it is now produced in Canelli, Piemonte.
  • 1
    1 Averna Amaro
    92
    Rich & Herbal
    Averna Amaro was first made in Sicily by the Averna family in 1868, after the recipe was gifted to them by Benedictine monk Frà Girolamo. Since then, descendants of the brand’s founder Salvatore Averna have passed the recipe down through the generations and grown the brand to international fame. The amaro is made with herbs and spices common throughout the Mediterranean and bottled at 29% ABV.