Homemade Liqueurs

Many homemade liqueurs are so easy to make that it is hard to believe that anyone would pay premium shop prices for the same thing.
Alcoholic base

coffee and liqueursWell, in many cases it isn’t the same thing, many of the commercial brands use emulsifiers, artificial colors and such like.

OK they do put it in a fancy bottle with a fancy label but….

Very basically liqueurs are just an alcohol base in which a flavouring has been steeped for a while.

And an added bonus, if you make your own, is that you also get to keep the ‘marinated’ flavouring.

It’s worth making cherry brandy just for the ‘marinated’ cherries…(handle with care)….

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Alcoholic base

Some of the most popular homemade liqueurs are brandy based.Classic Liqueur Recipes Buy Now

However, liqueurs can and have been made using a variety of alcohol bases, including rum, cognac, gin, whisky and whiskey, etc.

Vodka is a very versatile base due to its own lack of flavour, which allows the other ingredient’s flavours to shine through.

Vermouths are not strictly speaking liqueurs, being made with wine, however, they are alcoholic infusions too.

Other alcohols have their own distinctive tastes and levels of sweetness which will affect the final flavour. 

Rum, for instance, will require much sweetening than brandy or vodka.

Most homemade liqueur recipes have been developed to balance the taste of the alcoholic base and the flavourings.

You can experiment, to suit your own taste, by varying the alcohol level, this will alter the outcome but not necessarily for the worse. 

Adding some water and sugar or fruit juice will counteract a too strong an alcoholic taste.

Conversely adding some more of the alcohol and sugar will jazz it up a bit.

One of the reasons for making your own homemade liqueurs is to save money.

However, using the cheapest brand of spirit isn’t necessarily a good investment, some cheap brands can have unfortunate aftertastes.

And I would certainly, most emphatically, advise against using any kind of wouldn’t bootleg hooch.

On the other hand there can be little point using a very expensive brand if you are going to flavour and sweeten it.

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Apart from the satisfaction of making your own homemade liqueurs and saving money, is the advantage of knowing exactly what is in the stuff you are drinking.

sloe ginSome of the most popular homemade liqueurs are those made using fruit.

This can be produce from your garden or foraged wild fruit such as sloe and bramble.

And there are any number made with citrus fruits.

Liqueurs can also be made with fruit juices, and you can also buy liqueur essences, though some of these may be synthetic.

And there are those whisky liqueurs that are just blended with honey.

Pretty much anything can be steeped in alcohol including herbs and spices.

Vermouths are simply fortified wines which have been infused with various herbs and spices, wormwood being the main one.

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All homemade liqueurs are made in pretty much the same way.

Make your own drinksBuy NowThe flavouring (fruit or whatever) is steeped in the alcohol of choice and then sweetened to taste.

However, recipes vary in the details of which flavouring to use with what spirit, how long to steep and how to sweeten.

And often it is the details that make up the soul of your homemade liqueurs.

As a general rule the longer the recipe is allowed to infuse the stronger the infusion will be but as with all rules there are many exceptions.

It is difficult to make generalisations about sweetening, partly because tastes differ but also because of the interaction between the alcohol and the flavouring.

Some alcohols will completely overpower any sweetness of a fruit and the chemical balance of the fruit will change during steeping and maturing.

And there are some fruit that we perceive as being sweet because of their sweet smell rather than the actual sugar content.

As well as reducing any bitterness from your liqueur sweetening also helps to cut the alcoholic strength down to a drinkable level.

Sweetness is usually added in the form of a ‘saturated sugar solution’ or ‘invert sugar’ but some recipes suggest adding straight, ordinary, cane sugar, others will suggest candied sugar.

Saturated or invert sugar solutions break normal cane sugar down into the two basic sugars, glucose and fructose.

Simply boil 1Kg of sugar in ½ a litre of water and a spoonful of citric acid, simmer for 20 minutes or so then leave to cool.

Because of the changes that take place during infusion and maturing it is difficult to estimate the amount of sweetening to add at the beginning.

It is much easier to add more sweetness later.

If you feel that you need more sweetness after aging, just add it and allow another week or so for the additional sugar to settle down.

Aging is something else that will depend on the homemade liqueur recipe.

But most liqueurs will improve with maturity.

Fruit and berry liqueurs invariably need to be matured for at least six months.

While I prefer to avoid the use of plastic, where I can, I would never ever recommend storing a homemade liqueur in a plastic container.

Glass is without doubt best.


And may your wedding night be like a kitchen table...
all legs and no drawers.


I love to drink martinis.
Two at the very most.
Three I'm under the table.
Four I'm under the host!
(Dorothy Parker)