As today’s drinker is increasingly exposed to historic cocktail recipes, an appreciation of storied and artisanal liqueurs is a natural progression. Indeed, most traditional tipples call for at least one liqueur, and sometimes a liqueur can even fill the role of the base spirit in a mixed drink.
“Liqueurs have served as invaluable mixing ingredients since the dawn of the modern cocktail age in the mid-19th century,” says Gregory Buttera, Chicago-based bartender and Italian portfolio specialist at Campari America. “Liqueurs go in and out of fashion decade to decade, but they always feature prominently in the world of mixology.” Campari America’s stable of liqueurs includes Campari aperitif, Aperol aperitif, Averna amaro and Cynar amaro. Buttera adds that many once-forgotten brands are experiencing a renaissance of sorts, thanks to the resurgence of classic cocktail culture. “Some liqueurs had fallen almost completely out of use by the early 21st century, but they’ve now returned to prominence as mixologists embrace historic recipes,” he says.
Camille Vidal, global brand ambassador for St-Germain elderflower liqueur, also notes a recent shift in the category’s popularity. “At one time, a Margarita would have been made with sour mix, but these days, cocktail bars are much more likely to adhere to the traditional recipe and include an orange liqueur, such as Cointreau,” she says. “We’ve also seen the re-emergence of classic drinks like The Last Word with Green Chartreuse liqueur and the Bobby Burns with Bénédictine liqueur. This trend has been amazing for these older premium liqueurs.”
Furthermore, the rise in popularity of such storied brands with origins dating back hundreds of years has paved the way for modern liqueurs to enter the market. Newer names like St-Germain, Barrow’s Intense ginger liqueur and RumChata cream liqueur have helped expand the mixologist’s cocktail toolbox and open up a world of new drinks options with a nod to the classics.