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Vodka, one of the world's most popular liquors, is composed solely of water and ethyl alcohol with possible traces of impurities and flavorings. Vodka is made from any one of these fermented substances: grain, rye, wheat, potatoes, or sugar beet molasses.
Vodka’s alcoholic content usually ranges between 35 to 50 percent by volume; the standard Russian, Lithuanian, and Polish vodkas are 40 percent alcohol by volume (80 proof).
Historically, this alcoholic-proof standard derives from the Russian vodka quality standards established by Tsar Alexander III in 1894.
The Muscovite Vodka Museum reports that chemist Dmitri Mendeleev determined the ideal alcohol content as 38 percent; however, because in that time distilled spirits were taxed per their alcoholic strength, that percentage was rounded upwards to 40 percent for simplified taxation calculations.
For such a liquor to be denominated “vodka,” governments establish a minimal alcoholic proof; the European Union established 37.5 percent alcohol by volume as the minimal proof for European vodka.
Vodka is traditionally drunk neat in the vodka belt — Eastern Europe and Nordic countries — and elsewhere. It is also commonly used in cocktails and mixed drinks, such as the bloody Mary, the screwdriver, the White Russian, the vodka tonic, and the vodka martini.
The word liqueur comes from the Latin liquifacere ("to liquefy").
A distinction can be made between liqueurs and the kind of cordials that are made with fruit juice. In some parts of the world, people use the words "cordial" and "liqueur" interchangeably.
Liqueurs date back centuries and are historical descendants of herbal medicines, often those prepared by monks, as Chartreuse or Bénédictine. Liqueurs were made in Italy as early as the 13th century and their consumption was later required at all treaty signings during the Middle Ages.
Nowadays, liqueurs are made worldwide and are served in many ways: by themselves, poured over ice, with coffee, mixed with cream or other mixers to create cocktails, etc. They are often served with or after a dessert. Liqueurs are also used in cooking.
Some liqueurs are prepared by infusing certain woods, fruits, or flowers, in either water or alcohol, and adding sugar or other items. Others are distilled from aromatic or flavoring agents. The distinction between liqueur and spirits (sometimes liquors) is not simple, especially since many spirits are available in a flavored form today. Flavored spirits, however, are not prepared by infusion. Alcohol content is not a distinctive feature. At 15-30%, most liqueurs have a lower alcohol content than spirits, but some liqueurs have an alcohol content as high as 55%. Dessert wine, on the other hand, may taste like a liqueur, but contains no additional flavoring.
Anise liqueurs have the interesting property of turning from transparent to cloudy when added to water: the oil of anise remains in solution in the presence of a high concentration of alcohol, but crystallizes when the alcohol concentration is reduced.
Layered drinks are made by floating different-coloured liqueurs in separate layers. Each liqueur is poured slowly into a glass over the back of a spoon or down a glass rod, so that the liquids of different densities remain unmixed, creating a striped effect.
- Admittedly, rhubarb is an acquired taste. The sharp pungent gust of the plant is so strong that it’s close to inedible without proper preparation. You’ll have to break up the strong tart taste of the raw stalks with abundant sweetness to make it sapid. For this liqueur though we concentrated on the bite. Adding some bitter from the rhubarb peel, we’ve created this fresh, sweet and sour sensation.
- Naga Buth Jolokia. Remember that name. This Indian chilli is one of the hottest peppers around, and we’re bold enough to spice up our chilli liqueur with its burning extract. But don’t you worry, we rounded off the fieriest flavours by blending in some paprika aromas and a dash of rice wine vinegar. With its odd nose and well-balanced taste, this liqueur is ideal for making splashing cocktails.
- A deliciously smooth taste of summer strawberries and fresh cream.
- Strawberry schnapps is carefully created with flavours from fresh fruit sourced from around the world to deliver you the taste of ripe juicy wild strawberries.
- In bartending Triple Sec is a household name. The recipe dates back to the early 19th century and has been copied and altered ever since. We also took a shot at the infamous cocktail seasoning, pronouncing the citrus and prolonging the taste. By distilling the dried peels of sweet and bitter oranges, and mixing the two flavours meticulously together, we came up with this one of a kind liqueur.
- To compose the perfect cocktail liqueur we go all the way. Literally. Take our Vanilla. For this we’ve really travelled the world, from Madagascar to Indonesia. After extracting the local vanilla, we carefully blended them together with a dash of cognac to unleash their wild taste. Not to sweet, not to girlish but strong and long lasting. Exit overwhelming nose, enter vanilla with a woody touch.
- A delicious egg drink produced according to traditional Dutch methods.
- You wouldn't believe it, but of all fruits, the watermelon is probably the hardest nut to crack. It's close to impossible to capture its fresh essence, but somehow we've managed to do just that. To cut a long story short, we replaced the water in watermelon with alcohol and the result is this bright red, juicy liqueur. Whatever aroma you look for in a ripe watermelon, you'll find in this bottle.
- Again, it’s the aroma of bitter Curaçao oranges. As the blue and the red, White Curaçao is also named after its prime ingredient. But there’s more to this spirit. Cardamom in particular is worth mentioning. One of world’s most expensive flavours, it’s called the Queen of Spices. And we’ve discretely blended her majesty in with a hint of eau-de-vie to create this classic yet surprising liqueur.
- Voluptuous, vibrant, juicy and sweet, strawberries speak to the imagination. If not, they certainly speak to ours. Determined to trap the full strawberry sensation we set out to create a stunning cocktail ingredient. And guess what, wild strawberries work wonderfully well with alcohol. This liqueur not only oozes sweet strawberry out of every drop, it also hints at honey, cherry and fresh oranges.