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Here are all the liquor names for different types of alcohol! These spirits are the foundation for all cocktails and mixed drinks.
Ready to mix up some cocktails? With so many different types of alcohol out there, it can make your head spin! Let’s demystify home bartending with an overview of liquor names and types of alcohol. Once you’ve got a foundation, it’s much more approachable to start mixing up great homemade cocktails. Ready to get started?
Types of alcohol: an overview
There are several main categories of types of alcohol. Base liquors and liqueurs are distilled spirits, and wine and beer are distilled spirits or fermented alcohol. In each section, we’ll share the liquor names, popular brands, and examples of the top cocktails made with each alcohol. Types of alcohol include:
- Base liquors (gin, vodka, whiskey, tequila, rum, brandy)
- Liqueurs (amaretto, Kahlua, Campari, Baileys, and more)
- Wines and fortified wines (vermouth, sherry, marsala)
6 base liquor names
A liquor is a distilled alcoholic drink, also called a spirit. This category includes 6 base liquors: gin, vodka, whiskey, tequila, rum, and brandy. It also includes liqueurs, distilled spirits that are flavored with sugar, fruits, herbs, or spices. Liqueurs are generally lower proof alcohol. Here’s more about these 6 base types of alcohol:
Gin is a distilled liquor that gets its flavor from juniper berries.
- Popular brand names: Tanqueray Gin, London Dry Gin, Old Tom Gin
- Top cocktails: Martini, Tom Collins, and 12 Best Gin Cocktails
Vodka is a clear distilled liquor from Europe with a neutral flavor.
- Popular brand names: Tito’s Vodka, Skyy Vodka, Absolut Vodka
- Top cocktails: Moscow Mule, Bloody Mary, and 15 Best Vodka Cocktails
Whiskey is a distilled liquor made from grain mash. There are many types of whiskey from different regions. Popular styles are Bourbon, Rye Whiskey, Scotch Whisky, Canadian Whisky, Japanese Whisky, Tennessee Whiskey and Irish Whiskey. There are also flavored whiskies, like Peanut Butter Whiskey and Fireball Whisky.
- Info: Types of Whiskey, Rye Whiskey Guide, Irish Whiskey Guide, Bourbon vs Whiskey, Scotch vs Whiskey, Fireball Whisky Guide, and Peanut Butter Whiskey Guide
- Popular brand names: Maker’s Mark (Bourbon), Woodford Reserve (Bourbon), Jameson (Irish Whiskey), Crown Royal (Canadian Whisky), Jack Daniels (Tennessee Whiskey), Skrewball (Peanut Butter Whiskey)
- Top cocktails: Whiskey Sour, Old Fashioned, and 25 Great Whiskey Cocktails
- See also: Top Whiskey Cocktails, Bourbon Cocktails, Rye Whiskey Cocktails, Irish Whiskey Cocktails, Scotch Cocktails, Crown Royal Cocktails, Fireball Drinks, and Peanut Butter Whiskey Cocktails
Tequila is a Mexican distilled spirit made from a specific type of agave: the blue agave plant, or agave tequiliana. Mezcal is the category of spirit made from any variety of agave, so tequila is a type of mezcal. Styles of tequila include blanco, reposado, and añejo.
- Info: Types of Tequila: Blanco vs Reposado vs Añejo, Mezcal vs Tequila
- Popular brand names: Patrón Silver Tequila, Jose Cuervo Tequila
- Top cocktails: Margarita, Paloma and Best Tequila Cocktails
- See also: Top Mezcal Cocktails
Rum is a distilled liquor made from sugarcane molasses or juice. Styles of rum include white rum, golden rum, dark rum, and aged rum. Cachaça (used in the popular Caiprinha) is considered a type of Brazilian rum. Coconut rum is considered a coconut liqueur, because of the added sugar and low alcohol level.
- Popular brand names: Bacardi Rum, Capitan Morgan Rum, Goslings Black Seal Rum, Malibu Coconut Rum (considered a coconut liqueur)
- Top cocktails: Mojito, Daiquiri, Top Rum Cocktails, Dark Rum Cocktails, or Top Malibu Drinks
Brandy is a liquor made from distilling wine or other fruit, like apples or apricot. Popular styles include Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados, Spanish Brandy (Brandy de Jerez), American Brandy, and Pisco.
- Popular brand names: Hennessy Cognac, Rémy Martin Cognac
- Top cocktails: Sidecar, Brandy Alexander, 10 Top Cognac Cocktails or 10 Great Brandy Cocktails
Other Distilled Spirits
Aquavit is a Scandinavian distilled spirit, similar to vodka or gin. Go to Quick Guide to Aquavit.
Liqueurs are type of alcohol made by mixing a distilled spirit with plant materials. The official US definition of a liqueur is that alcohol must be mixed with plant products and sweeteners to at least 2.5% by weight. Here are some liquor names of popular liqueurs:
Amaro or amari is a family of Italian herbal liqueurs that taste bitter (amaro means bitter in Italian). Popular types of amari include: Averna, Nonino, Montenegro, Cynar, Fernet Branca, Campari, and Aperol. Go to 12 Amaro Cocktails to Try.
Cappelletti is an Italian red bitter with a sweet flavor, like an easier-to-drink version of Campari. See Quick Guide to Cappelletti.
Chambord is a black raspberry liqueur made in France. Despite the historic looking bottle, the brand started in the 1980’s. See Quick Guide to Chambord.
Crème liqueurs are liqueurs that have so much sugar added that they take on a syrupy consistency. Types include Crème de Cacao (chocolate), Crème de Cassis (black currant), Crème de Menthe (mint), Crème de Mûre (blackberry), and Crème de Noyaux (almond).
Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua, Tia Maria)
Kahlua is a popular coffee liqueur made in Veracruz, Mexico with rum, sugar, vanilla bean, and coffee. The brand name has become synonymous with the product. Other top coffee liqueur brands include Tia Maria and Sheridan’s. See Quick Guide to Kahlua, Quick Guide to Tia Maria, and Top Kahlua Drinks.
Drambuie is a liqueur made from Scotch that tastes sweet, with flavors of honey, spices and herbs. See Rusty Nail.
Jägermeister is a German digestif liqueur made with 56 different herbs and botanicals, invented in 1934. It’s thick and syrupy, with strong anise notes on the finish. See Quick Guide to Jagermeister.
Galliano L’Autentico is a bright yellow, sweet herbal Italian liqueur. See Quick Guide to Galliano & Top Cocktails.
Irish Cream (Baileys)
Limoncello is a popular Italian lemon liqueur with a strong lemon flavor. See Quick Guide to Limoncello.
Orange Liqueurs / Triple Sec
There are several major types of orange liqueur that fall under two categories. Curaçao is the original orange flavored liqueur invented in the 19th century by Dutch settlers. This category includes the popular Blue Curacao that has spawned a list of Blue Drinks.
Triple Sec is the more popular category in modern cocktails: it’s a dryer style of orange liqueur that includes Cointreau and Triple Sec. See Quick Guide to Cointreau, Top Cointreau Drinks and Triple Sec Cocktails.
Pastis or Pernod
Pimm’s No. 1 is a flavored gin-based liqueur made with fruit and herbs and caramel red in color. See Pimm’s Cup.
Schnapps is a distilled spirit made by fermenting fruit juices along with the base liquor. There are dozens of types including the popular peppermint schnapps, cinnamon schnapps, and peach schnapps. See Top Peach Schnapps Drinks.
Sloe gin is a British red liqueur that’s made with gin and the sloe fruit (similar to a plum). See Sloe Gin Cocktails.
Suze is a French bitter aperitif made from the gentian root, released in 1889. See White Negroni.
Brewed Types of Alcohol: Wine, Beer and Sake
Wine and beer are types of brewed alcohol, not distilled spirits like base liquor and liqueurs. Here are some common types of each:
Wine is an alcoholic beverage made with fermented grape juice. It’s consumed all over the world, both straight and mixed into drinks. See 15 Best Wine Cocktails and 13 Easy Champagne Cocktails. The main types of wine are:
- Red wine
- White wine
- Rosé wine
- Sparkling wine like Champagne (French), Prosecco (Italian), and Cava (Spanish)
- Fortified wine (see below)
Fortified wine is a type of alcohol that adds a distilled spirit (usually brandy) to a wine to stabilize it. Aromatized wine is a type of fortified wine that has added natural flavors like fruits, herbs and other botanicals. Some fortified wines are drunk straight or used in cooking. Vermouth is the most popular fortified wine used in cocktails. Some fortified wines are very sweet and also known as dessert wines.
Lillet or Cocchi Americano
Lillet is a French aperitif: an aromatized wine that’s flavored with herbs and citrus. There are are several types of Lillet made of different wines: Lillet Blanc, Lillet Rosé and Lillet Rouge. Cocchi Americano is a similar aperitif that’s Italian, with a sweeter flavor as it’s made from Moscato wine. See Quick Guide to Lillet Blanc or Quick Guide to Cocchi Americano.
Madeira, Marsala, and Port
Madeira is a fortified wine made in Portugal with styles ranging from dry to sweet. Marsala is a fortified wine made in Sicily, and also has style ranging from dry to sweet. Both work as an aperitif (before dinner) or digestif (after dinner), or in cooking.
Port is a sweet fortified wine from Portugal, usually served as a dessert wine. See White Port and Tonic.
Sherry is a fortified wine made in Spain: it’s made by adding grape liquor to white wine. The flavor is sharp, with a scent of apple cider and a very dry finish.
Vermouth is a liquor, but it’s a fortified wine, not a distilled spirit. It’s used as a supporting character in many popular cocktails. Styles include dry, sweet, semi-dry, and semi-sweet. See Negroni, Manhattan. and Top Vermouth Cocktails.
Beer is an alcoholic beverage made from fermenting cereal grains, most commonly barley. It’s consumed all over the world, both straight and in cocktails. See Top Beer Cocktails. Beers generally fall into two brewing methods, lager beer and ale. Within each class there are different styles varying by color, bitterness/sweetness, density, and alcoholic content. Below are some of the most common styles:
- Ales: Blonde Ale, Brown Ale, Pale Ale, and India Pale Ale (IPA), Sour Ale, Porter, Stout
- Lager: American Lager, Lite Lager, Pilsner, Wheat Beer, Amber, Dark
Sake (pronounced sah-kay) is a Japanese fermented rice liquor, sometimes called rice wine. It has a smooth flavor with a dry finish, like dry white wine or dry vermouth. See Sake Southside Cocktail.
Other Fermented Beverages
- Mead is a fermented alcoholic beverage made with honey, water, and yeast.
- Hard cider is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from the juice of apples.
Got more liquor names?
What liquor names we missing? What are your favorite types of alcohol to mix into cocktails, or drink straight? Let us know in the comments.