Tuesday, 20 September 2011


I don't drink alcohol. At least, not as a rule. I think the last drink I had was in October 2009 - until a couple of weeks ago. It's not through aversion to the demon drink; it's just that it can trigger a migraine. But I was tempted by GB's range of liqueurs. I can't resist them.

I've had an Amaretto, a Cointreau and some Sheridan's and, for the first time, I had a drop of Strega.

It's gone quite quickly on to my favourite liqueurs list. Strega (or Liquore Strega), is an Italian herbal liqueur produced since 1860 in Benevento, Campania, Italy. Its yellow colour comes from the presence of saffron in its recipe. Liquore Strega is 80 proof (40%) and among its approximately 70 herbal ingredients are mint and fennel. Strega is considered a digestif, meant for drinking after meals.

Strega is Italian for to bewitch or a witch, hex, hag, harridan, sorceress.

Many years ago I compiled a list of my favourite liqueurs and it included:-

Amaretto Disaronno (Disaranno Originale – 28% abv - has an almond flavour but contains no almonds or nuts. Disaronno claims its "originale" amaretto's "secret formula" is unchanged from the year 1525,)

Lazzaroni Amaretto (24% abv), produced by Paolo Lazzaroni & Figli S.p.A., also presents itself as the first such liqueur. However, it is based on an infusion of Amaretti di Saronno (macaroons), a process which imparts a "delicate almond/apricot flavour". Lazzaroni claim the tale of the young couple blessed by the bishop as the origin of their generations-guarded family recipe, dating it to 1718; the amaretto has been in production since 1851.

Tia Maria (Sugar cane/coffee. The first liqueur I ever had and, apart from a medicinal brandy or two the first alcohol I had. A small Tia Maria with cream being given to me by my Uncle Jack, a pub landlord, when I was about thirteen.)

Limoncello (lemon)

Cherry Bounce (made by steeping cherries and sugar in brandy. The English hamlet of Frithsden claims to have originated the Cherry Bounce. A lane leading off the Old High Street in nearby Hemel Hempstead is named Cherry Bounce and is shown having this name in maps dating back to the early 19th century. My favourite for some years.)

Apricot Brandy

Midori (melon)

Drambuie (whisky/herbs/heather honey)

Advocaat (eggs.  Like Marmite - you either love it or hate it.)

Malibu (Coconut. Another one which reached the top of the list for a while in the 1980s)

Blue Curacao (orange peel)

Cherry Brandy

Grand Marnier (oranges/cognac)

Crerne de Grand Marnier

Cointreau (orange)


At the time (it was about the late '80s), the only two I disliked were Pernod liqueur d'anise and Creme de Menthe whilst Cadbury's Cream liqueur was not rated highly.

Since then I've added Bailey's Irish Cream and Sheridan's Irish coffee cream liqueur to my list of favourites.

The number of flavourings in liqueurs is remarkable. Chartreuse has no less than a hundred and thirty herbs. All their flavours are enhanced by serving them chilled or with ice. To get the best of the bouquet they should be drunk from a balloon glass rather than the standard full-up liqueur glass and by people whose noses aren't blocked!

Next on my list to try are - Anisette; Benedictine; Creme de Cassis; Irish Mist; Orange Brandy; Vielle Cure and Stag's Breath (Speyside malts and fermented comb honey). At an average rate of one drink every ten months its going to take me a while, especially since our local 'Bargain Booze' and supermarkets don't sell anything except Malibu!


  1. These are not my tipple but a fascinating and informative post.
    I have not looked but I would have thought that the internet could provide a purveyor who stocks small bottles.

  2. When it comes to alcoholic drinks, my taste is rather "childish" - I only like the truly sweet stuff, such as Bailey's, Batida de Coco and so on. I am quite surprised to see Bailey's appear on your list, too; here in Germany, it is considered a typical "female" drink. It is especially delicious, I find, over Mövenpick's walnut ice cream.
    My mum makes liqueur of all the berries from her garden. Her raspberry and strawberry ones are like summer in bottles!

  3. Did I not see you with a glass of bucks fizz at our wedding?

    I'm unable to make a list of the liqueurs I've had because they've mostly been in cocktails and I've forgotton what was in them. I'm pretty sure I've only had one or two that are on your list - must be more adventurous in future.

  4. Oops - caught out in a fib. I did have some Bucks fizz at your wedding, Helen, - I forgot - that's what alcohol does to you! It wasn't an intentional fib!

    I too, Librarian, like my alcohol the sweeter the better - perhaps it's the female side of me coming out. I've never had walnut ice cream - sounds delicious, especially with Bailey's over it. I'm licking my lips here.

  5. I think bailey's is considered a female drink in the UK, but that's never stopped me ordering it. I'm very keen to try it with walnut icecream!

    Strega sounds like it is worth a try.

  6. Despite having a few liqueurs in my cupboard I rarely drink them because I don't like sweet drinks as a rule. Strega has a flavour quite different to anything else I've experienced and I like it. I'm fairly certain I have Benedictine and I do have Creme de Cassis (for making Kir and Kir Royale) so that's next summer's visit tasting taken care of.

    I also made some Limoncello recently and it seems to have gone down well with those who drink it.


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