Drinks

8 Unusual Liqueurs Every Home Bar Should Have

Becherovka and Fernet-Branca, how do bartenders love thee? Let us count the ways.
Unusual Liqueurs to Have at Home
Photo: Tasting Table

When it comes to liqueurs, most are familiar with the triple secs, the amarettos—you know, the basics. But for every traditional bottle, there are countless other, more unusual, choices waiting to be rescued from obscurity. So in the spirit (pun intended) of shedding light on lesser-known liqueurs, we ask eight pro bartenders across the country to name their top picks. Here’s what they have to say.

1. KERRYGOLD IRISH CREAM LIQUEUR

What it is: 
A cream liqueur made with Irish whiskey, Irish cream, and chocolate.

What the pros say:

"I pretty much go weak in the knees when it comes to cream liqueurs. And when Kerrygold released theirs, I knew it was going to be extraordinary. Already revered as a top global creamery, this Irish whiskey–based liqueur not only adds cream but also chocolate to the mixture; it's the perfect way to amp up your mudslide. You can also add some coconut water and ice for a cool summer sip, or some strong cold brew for the best mocha variation you'll ever try."

—Pam Wiznitzer, Seamstress (NYC)

 2. FERNET-BRANCA

What it is:

A bitter Italian herbal liqueur known for its medicinal, mint-forward flavor profile.

What the pros say:

"Fernet-Branca is delicious on its own but can be a total game changer when used in a cocktail. It adds such a beautiful depth of flavor and ties together ingredients almost the way salt does in cooking."

Natasha David, Nitecap (NYC)

3. CRÈME YVETTE

What it is:

A violet liqueur first popularized in the late 1800s.

What the pros say:

"I love Crème Yvette, because of its full, rich flavors of berries, intense aroma and dry finish. It works great in cocktails; it perfectly helps spirits express their natural botanicals without overpowering the drink or adding too much sweetness."

—Lucinda Sterling, Middle Branch and Seaborne (NYC/Brooklyn, NY)

4. CHAREAU

What it is:

An all-natural aloe vera liqueur hailing from California.

What the pros say:

"I really love Chareau—it adds a perfect and refreshing balance to liquors like mescal."

—Ty Williams, Sisters (Brooklyn, NY)

5. BECHEROVKA

What it is:

A Czech brand of herbal bitters.

What the pros say:
"It's got a wonderful sweet baking spice flavor profile—people fall in love with Fireball and Jägermeister for a very similar reason. This is just the much more subtle and nuanced classy older cousin."

—Dave Bletsch, Cork and Kerry (Long Island, NY)

6. GRAN CLASSICO

What it is:

A bitter orange Italian liqueur based on an original Torinese recipe from the 1860s.

What the pros say:

"Gran Classico is kind of like the OG of bitter orange liqueurs. It's definitely a closely related cousin to Campari and Aperol, but it's a Swiss product that still uses beetles’ wings for the color. It's bitter, earthy, citrusy and dry, and it’s a great substitute in classics such as the Negroni, Americano and Boulevardier. It's much more dry than it is bitter, and it's full of character."

—Anthony Auger, The Ice Plant (St. Augustine, FL)

7. CYNAR

What it is:

A bitter Italian liqueur made from artichokes.

What the pros say:

"Cynar forces bartenders to think about what citruses or sweet elements they're going to use. Cynar is the kind of liqueur that really pushes the boundaries of how we create drinks, and it's also crazy to drink by itself. I like to have it on one rock with equal parts rye."

—Taylor Rae, Seamstress and Extra Fancy (NYC)

8. ANCHO REYES VERDE

What it is:

A spicy liqueur made from fire-roasted young poblano chiles.

What the pros say:

"In cocktails, Ancho Verde adds both brightness and viscosity along with a sweet spiciness that doesn't really overpower with heat. It's just one of those ingredients that just serves as a really great accent to cocktails without having to use very much of it."
—Steven Santillan, Esquire Tavern (San Antonio, TX)

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