Home Made Liqueurs 101


Shot Glasses
photo Kelly Martin


Make your own fancy liqueurs at home with little effort and a lot of good taste. Home made liquers are often tastier than the boughten liqueurs and are made very inexpensively. The word liqueur comes from the Latin word liquifacere which means "to dissolve."

Liqueurs and cordials differ from liquors in that the fruit and spices are an essential, not a contaminant, to the finished product. The variety of ingredients that can be added as flavoring give one a lot of creativity to create their own special liqueur.

Liqueurs stem from the first medicinal drinks in which apothecarians and physicians tried to capture the healing power of herbs and plants.

To make your gift special, purchase antique or reproduction bottles in which to present your liqueurs.

Liqueur Recipes

A Guide To Liqueur Making

Consider these recipies only as a starting point, in most cases you are making an imitation of the genuine product so it is a good idea to experiment with smaller sample sizes so you can adjust the final batch to your personal taste.

How to Make the Sugar Syrup

Combine equal parts white granulated sugar and water in a pan. Cover and slowly heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Let it simmer 20 - 30 minutes, do not let it boil, a bit of lemon juice will prevent crystalization.

Amaretto Liqueur

1 cup granulated sugar
6 drops red food coloring
3/4 cup water
1 drops blue food coloring
2 apricot halves
1/2 tsp. glycerine
1 tbsp almond extract
1/2 cup grain alochol
1/2 cup water
1 cup brandy
3 drops yellow food coloring

Combine sugar and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer until all sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and cool. In an aging container, combine apricot halves, almond extract, grain alcohol with 1/2 cup water, and brandy. Stir in cooled sugar syrup mixture.

Cap and let age for 2 days.

Remove apricot halves. (Save apricot halves, can be used for cooking). Add food coloring and glycerine. Stir, recap and continue aging for 1 to 2 months. Re-bottle as desired. Liqueur will improve with additional aging

Banana Liqueur

2 bananas, peeled
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup sugar syrup
3 cups vodka

Mash the bananas, add the vanilla and cooled syrup to the vodka. Shake gently, steep for 1 week. Strain and filter. Drink now, or age 2-3 months for best results.

Coffee Flavored Liqueur

4 cups white sugar
2 cups boiling water
2 oz. instant coffee
1 Pint vodka
1 vanilla bean cut into small pieces

Combine all ingredients in a half gallon jar. Shake 2-3 times per week for one month. Strain for vanilla bean pieces before serving. Makes approximately 1 1/2 pints.

Creme de Cacao

1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup vodka

Combine sugar and water in a medium pan, boil on high until reduced to 1/2 volume, aprox. 20 minutes. About 5 minutes before syrup is done melt chocolate in a 2 cup or larger container. Immediately slowly pour hot syrup into melted chocolate, smooth with a mixer if necessary. Cool for 30 minutes, add vanilla and vodka, blend well. Immediately pour into bottle or jar and seal lid.


20 oz. vodka
2 tsp orange essence
1 tsp orange vegetable coloring
1 cup sugar
Water as needed

Dissolve the sugar in just enough good water or distilled water to dissolve it.

Boil to form a heavy syrup. Allow mixture to cool. Add the vodka slowly, stirring well to mix. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Store until needed.

Grand Marnier

4 cups vodka
4 oranges, juice and zest
3 cups white sugar
1 tbls corriander seed
3 oz. imatation brandy flavor
Brown food dye

Cut or scrape the orange colored part off the orange peel. This is the zest and is quite rich in aromatic essences. Be careful not to get any of the white pith of the peel since it is very bitter.

Squeeze the oranges and strain the juice well. In a mixing jar place the orange juice, zest, vodka and the corriander seed. Cover and leave to infuse for two weeks. Drain thru a coarse sieve and return to the mixing jar. Discard the residue. Add the brandy flavor and the sugar. Shake vigorously until the sugar is dissolved. Leave to clear.

This liqueur is very slow to clear, so be patient. When clear, two weeks or more, decant and add brown food dye previously mixed with a small amount of the liqueur. This liqueur should be a pale brown color so go very easy with the brown food coloring.

Irish Creme

1 cup heavy cream
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 2/3 cups Irish Whiskey
1 tsp. instant coffee
2 tbls chocolate syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

In a blender, combine heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, Irish whiskey, instant coffee, chocolate syrup, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Blend on high for 20 to 30 seconds. Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. Shake well before serving.


4 cups sugar
4 cups water
1/2 cup instant coffee, not freeze dried
1 quart vodka
1 vanilla bean, sliced diagonally several times

Boil sugar in water for 10 minutes. Add instant coffee. Remove from heat. Add vodka and vanilla bean.

Pour into bottles, let stand three weeks, turning bottles daily.

Peppermint Schnapps

2/3 cup granulated sugar
4 cups corn syrup
4 cups vodka
1 1/2 Tbls. peppermint extract

Combine sugar and corn syrup in saucepan over medium heat.
Heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves, remove from heat, add vodka, and stir well.
Allow to cool in pan, covered, add peppermint extract to mixture.

Store in a sealed decorative bottle.

Tia Maria

1 3/4 oz instant coffee
9 cups water
6 cups sugar
2 oz vanilla extract
1 3/4 pints Everclear

Steep 1 3/4 ounces of instant coffee in 4 cups of boiling water.
Make a syrup by putting 6 cups of sugar in 5 cups of boiling water- allow to cool- then add 2 ounces of pure vanilla extract.
Mix syrup with coffee mixture then add 1 3/4 pints of Everclear.
Let cool and enjoy!


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