When you’re ready to start mixing up some cocktails it’s important to know the different types of alcohol you have available.
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In the list of liquor below you’ll find the most common alcohol brands found in bars that you can use right at home to create a delicious tasting drink.
Most of the spirit alcohol types below can be switched out too when you’re making different recipes so knowing them all will come in handy.
You’ll find everything below from white liquor to brown so if you don’t like one just keep reading to get a full understanding.
Different Types of Liquor
When you’re trying to set up a full bar you’ll want to make sure to have at least one of the different types of liquor so you can mix a drink without having to head to the store.
You’ll want a base liquor, a liqueur, and wine or fortified wine. Each one has its own purpose in a cocktail so you’ll want to remember the liquor names.
Each section will list popular liquor brands that you’ll be able to find at any store so you don’t have to go searching for the right ingredients when you’re ready to make a cocktail.
Base liquors are the most general category and are made up of gin, vodka, whiskey, tequila, rum, and brandy.
Liqueurs are more of a companion to the base liquors. They can be used on their own but they typically don’t contain as much alcohol content as the base liquors.
The last type of liquor is wines and fortified wines. These won’t be used very often in different alcohol cocktails but they have a unique flavor that makes them worth a try.
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Vodka doesn’t have nearly the flavor that gin has and it’s made by distilling fermented grain.
Brands include Absolut Vodka, Stolichnaya Vodka, Smirnoff Vodka, and Svedka Vodka. Cocktails like the Bloody Mary and the Moscow Mule are made with Vodka.
Gin is made by mixing neutral grain spirits with juniper berries and other botanicals.
Popular brands include London Dry Gin, Old Tom Gin, and Tanqueray Gin. You can make popular cocktails like the Tom Collins or the classic gin and tonic.
Tequila was first made in Mexico where the agave plant comes from. If you like tequila then you’ll probably like Mezcal which is made from the same plant but goes through a different process.
Popular brands include Jose Cuervo Tequila, Sauza Tequila, and Patron Tequila. Popular cocktails like the Margarita and the Tequila Sunrise are made with this different type of liquor.
Whiskey is one of the more savory alcohol types with a strong finish. It’s made by fermenting the mash of cereal grains like corn, rye, or barley.
The most popular brands are Jack Daniel’s Whiskey, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Jim Beam Whiskey, and Crown Royal Canadian Whisky. You can make popular whiskey drinks like the Mint Julep and Old Fashioned cocktails.
Rum is made from sugarcane byproducts like molasses or sugarcane juice. It’s one of the more popular alcoholic drink types after vodka which is why it’s used in so many cocktails.
Popular brands include Bacardi Rum, Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum, Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, and Havana Club Rum. Tropical drinks like a daiquiri or mojito are more well-known rum drinks.
You can make brandy by fermenting wine and distilling the alcohol. Even though it’s made from grapes, it can taste very fruity or savory depending on where it’s distilled.
Popular brands that are distilled in France include Courvoisier Cognac, Hennessy Cognac, Martell Cognac, and Remy Martin Cognac.
When you distill a liquor with some herbs or botanical ingredients it becomes a liqueur. These are great to add with some of the base liquors to make a more flavorful drink.
Absinthe became popular in the 19th century because of the psychedelic effects it had on people. It’s distilled with anise, fennel, and other herbs to give it that unique flavor.
It was banned in most countries but legal again because of how diluted it is now compared to back then.
If you’re looking for flavor, the amaretto is the way to go. It’s made from sweet almond and comes with a variety of flavors, like cherry and apricot, in addition to the original almond liqueur.
The almond joy isn’t just a candy but a delicious cocktail you can try with this liqueur.
Amaro is usually a digestif to finish the night off with and is made from different herbs or spices for additional flavors.
Some popular brands include Fernet Branca, Lucano Amaro, and Herbsaint Liqueur.
Aperol is made from bitter orange and rhubarb so it’s definitely one of the more unique flavors among liqueurs.
If you like cocktails with citrus or orange flavors then this is a great choice to use in drinks like the Aperol Spritz, Blood Orange Margarita, and Martini.
The less common Benedictine is made up of more than 20 herbs and spices.
This is another liqueur that comes with different flavors like mandarin orange, wild cherry, gingerbread, peppermint, and cinnamon, which makes it great for holiday cocktails like the Singapore Sling.
The Cappelletti is an Italian herbal liqueur that is easier on the taste buds than Campari, which is more popular.
If you like lighter cocktails then this is a good choice for you to use in drinks like the Cappelletti Spritz, Screwdriver, and Vodka Tonic.
You’ll find Campari in a lot of bars because it’s bitter and goes best in cocktails with orange or grapefruit.
If you like Campari then you might also enjoy Fernet Branca, Aperol, and Cynar which are some other bitter liqueurs.
The Chambord was created more recently than most of the others on this list of liquors and people like it for its raspberry flavor.
You can use this liqueur in drinks like the Chambord Royale, French 75, and Mojito to have a taste of black raspberry.
Monks created the Chartreuse in the 18th century, and it’s made up of more than 130 herbs.
You can try the different alcoholic drinks of Chartreuse like green or yellow when making your own cocktails.
Creme liqueur is a general word to encompass all the liqueurs that are derived from cream. These are usually sweet and creamy, similar to drinking a dessert.
The horehound crème de menthe is one example of this type of liqueur that you can have as a digestive aid after dinner or just enjoy before any meal.
You’ll find several types of coffee liqueur, but the most popular brands are Kahlua and Tia Maria.
These liqueurs usually come with additional flavors like chocolate or mocha which you can use to make great tasting cocktails like the Espresso Martini or Brandy Alexander.
You probably haven’t heard of the Drambuie but it’s made from aged Scotch whiskies that are combined with honey and other secret ingredients.
Some popular cocktails to use this liqueur in include the Rusty Nail, Salty Dog, and Rusty Screw.
Jagermeister became hugely popular in the 2000s and with 56 different herbs and botanicals added it is easy to see why.
You can use it in a cocktail but some people take a shot and drop it in a cup of red bull to mix the syrupy consistency with something lighter.
Galliano is another herbal liqueur that is also made with scents like lavender, juniper berries, and anise.
You can use this liqueur in drinks like the Godfather, Harvey Wallbanger, and Golden Cadillac to give it a unique taste of licorice or artichoke.
This sky blue liqueur became popular among popular rap artists but its flavors will go well on any palate.
You can use this in drinks like the Hpnotiq Margarita, Blue Kamikaze, and Godfather to enjoy different flavors of mango and other tropical fruits.
Irish Cream (Baileys)
The most popular brand of Irish cream is Baileys, which is made up of cream, sugar, and Irish whiskey.
This liqueur makes great-tasting cocktails like the White Russian, Mudslide, and After Eight, which go perfectly after a heavy meal.
Licor 43 is made with 43 different herbs and is lighter in flavor, which is why it’s great for people who don’t normally drink a lot. You can mix it in your cocktails and not be overwhelmed by the strong flavors.
If you like this type of liqueur then you might also enjoy Amaretto di Saronno, Benedectine, and Disaronno Originale.
The limoncello is a very popular southern Italian liqueur that gives people a lemon or citrus flavor.
If you have an affinity for this type of liqueur then you might also enjoy Cointreau, Grand Marnier, and Triple Sec. You can even pour some limoncello on some ice cream if you want to kick it up a notch.
You might have heard of maraschino cherries and this liqueur has the same flavors of cherry, almond, and vanilla.
You can use it in drinks like the White Lady, Singapore Sling, or Cherry Blossom to give you a flavor that almost anyone will enjoy.
Looking for a lighter liqueur that isn’t stuffed with tons of herbs? The Midori is a perfect choice because it’s made using honeydew melon so it has a lighter flavor.
Some drinks to try it in are the Midori Sour, Melon Ball, and Green Lizard, but you could use this in a number of drinks and it will come out tasting fantastic.
Orange Liqueurs / Triple Sec
There are different types of orange liqueurs you should be aware of like curacao, triple sec, and Cointreau.
Triple sec is usually orange flavored but it isn’t as sweet as curacao – some popular cocktails to use this liqueur in are the Margarita, Cosmopolitan, and Long Island Iced Tea. White Chocolate Liqueurs
Pastis or Pernod
Pernod and pastis both have the same flavor profile but most people grow to love one or the other. They have an anise flavor that not everyone loves but gives you a throwback to the older cocktails.
You can make some good cocktails using these liqueurs like the Scorpion, Gauloise, and Parisian. If you’re looking for something fruity then check out the Pernod Fizz or Death in the Afternoon.
Pimm’s is another liqueur that isn’t used in a standard drink but it’s made with herbs, spices, and malt.
You can make a great mixed drink using this liqueur like the Pimm’s Cup, Pimm’s Royale, or Auld Alliance.
You’ve probably already heard of schnapps because people like to sip on this popular liqueur during the holidays.
It’s made with a lot of fruit flavors and some people even use it to make slushies. It’s a popular liqueur for cocktails like the Pimms Cup, White Russian, or Hot Toddy.
Sloe gin isn’t very common but it comes from a type of wild plum, which is why it’s got a sweeter flavor.
This liqueur makes delicious drinks like the Sloe Gin Fizz or Sloe Comfortable Screw and if you’re looking for something with an herbal taste then try out The Northern Lights.
St Germain has grown in popularity thanks to being made from elderflower and it’s a great liqueur to use in a number of cocktails.
It has a citrus flavor but people enjoy using it in drinks like the French 75, Tom Collins, or Bobby Burns.
Suze is made by infusing grapefruit and gentian root so it has a bitter, earthy flavor and it’s been around since the 1800s.
You can use this liqueur in drinks like the Golden Fizz or French 75 and you might also want to try an old fashioned with this liqueur just for kicks.
Brewed Types of Alcohol
Instead of a distilled spirit like liqueurs or liquors, you can also brew alcohol and that’s how you get wine, beer, and sake.
These are more common to drink because they don’t have as high of an alcohol content so they don’t have as large of an effect on the body.
Wine is one of the most popular types of fermented beverages and is made by combining grapes, yeast, and sugar.
There are a lot of different types of wine to choose from like red wine, white wine, sparkling wines, or rose wines and they come from many different types of grapes.
Fortified wine is different from regular fermented wine because it has types of spirits added to it so you’ll get more of a kick.
Some popular types of fortified wine are port, sherry, and vermouth and they can be a little too powerful to have on their own so you’ll mainly see them added to another cocktail.
Lillet is a unique wine made with ingredients like citrus, spices, and flowers so you’ll get an earthy flavor with a little kick. It’s not as popular as other wines because it tastes sweeter than most people prefer.
You can use this wine in cocktails like the Blinker or French 75 or try using it to make sangria or mulled wine.
Madeira, Marsala, and Port
Madeira and Marsala are made in a very similar way so the only difference is the grapes used while port might have a little more of a fruity taste.
These wines are popular in some classic cocktails like the Brooklyn, Maiden’s Blush, and Widow’s Kiss and they also make a great addition to some different desserts.
Sherry is made with a specific type of grape called Palomino and it’s another rare wine that can be used in cocktails or as an accompaniment to some desserts.
You’re probably already familiar with one of the popular alcoholic drinks sherry makes, which is the Sherry Cobbler but there are others including the Kale Mary, Shandygaff, and Widow’s that are also popular.
Vermouth is tricky because although it’s a liquor it’s actually a wine and it’s made by steeping herbs like wormwood in alcohol, which is where the bitter taste comes from.
Vermouth can come dry or sweet and will add an earthy flavor to your distilled drinks but people usually only use around a half ounce so it’s not nearly as strong as some of the others on this hard liquor list.
Beer is made by fermenting some type of wheat and hops to give it a slighter bitter taste but craft beers have brought a lot more flavor to beers recently.
You can have a ton of different types of beers like wheat, lager, porter, pilsner, sour ales, stouts, IPA, and more.
Sake is a very popular Japanese drink you can find in a lot of restaurants because it’s made from fermented rice and is another form of brewed alcohol.
It has a smoother flavor than some other types of beer but you might not be able to handle the higher alcohol content that can come with this drink.