Cordials play a significant role in almost every popular cocktail these days from the classic Margarita to the trendy flavored martinis. Cordial cocktails are hot right now and playing a major role in the revival of the cocktail culture. Cordials and Liqueurs are the third leading category in the U. S. spirits market representing 12.5% of all spirits consumed in the U.S. Revenue grew 12.1% last year with premium and high end premium products driving the growth at 15.2% and 20.7% respectively. “The flavor profiles are so vast that mixologists rely on them when they look to create something new and fresh for their customers.” said Shawn Kelley, Public Relations Director for the Distilled Spirits Council. “With cordials, the cocktail possibilities are endless.” Cordials and Liqueurs are defined as spirits flavored with a minimum of 2.5% sweetener which can include herbs, roots, fruits, nuts and spices. The flavoring can be added using a distillation, infusion, maceration or percolation technique. The Distilled Spirits Council recommends these easy-to-recreate cordial cocktails for you to enjoy at home: Recipes: Sidecar 1 ¼ oz brandy or whiskey ¼ oz orange liqueur ¼ oz fresh lemon juice Shake with ice and strain into sugared rim glass White Russian 1 oz vodka ½ oz cream liqueur ½ oz heavy cream Shake with ice and strain into a chilled glass Amaretto Sour 2 oz amaretto liqueur ½ oz fresh lemon juice Shake with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with an orange slice Lemon & Tonic 1 oz Gin ½ oz lemon liqueur Tonic water Lemon wedge Fill a tall glass with ice. Add ingredients and top with tonic water. Garnish with a lemon ledge. Coffee Alexander 1 oz Brandy ½ oz coffee liqueur 1oz cream Shake with ice and strain into a chilled glass Margarita 1 oz tequila ½ oz triple sec or orange liqueur ½ oz fresh lime juice Salt Shake with ice and strain into a salt-rimmed glass Chocolate Martini 1 oz vodka ½ oz Crème de Cacao liqueur Powered dark chocolate Shake with ice and strain into a chocolate-rimmed glass Facts about Cordials Are cordials and liqueurs the same thing? Yes. According to spirits experts the terms are interchangeable. What are Cordials? Spirits flavored with a minimum of 2.5 % sweetener which may include herbs, roots, fruits, nuts, and spices. The alcohol base can be derived from grain, grape, or other fruits or vegetables and may be flavored in four different ways; distillation; infusion; maceration; or percolation. Food colors are permitted in liquors and the alcohol strength is between 40-60 proof. Flavoring Techniques Distillation is the process of blending alcohol and flavoring agents together before distilling them. Infusion is the steeping of mashed fruits or herbs in water or alcohol often with the application of heat, then filtering the liquid and mixing it with neutral grain spirits and sugar. Maceration is the steeping of the herbs or fruits in alcohol then filtering the liquid and mixing it with neutral spirits and sugar. Percolation is like the process inside a coffee pot, circulating the alcohol through a container holding the materials from which the flavor is extracted over and over. Excerpted from The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff Are they popular? Yes, cordials and liqueurs are the 3rd largest category by consumption after vodka and rum. In 2005, it represented 12.5% of the total distilled spirits consumed in the U.S. Both domestic and imported cordials have been increasing for the past 7 years. Some popular flavor profiles Nut- almond and hazelnut Bean – chocolate and coffee Fruit – orange, lemon, cherry, apple Herbal – licorice, vanilla Creams – coffee, chocolate Bitters -orange, artichoke Tasting Liqueurs Let your senses guide you. Touch: Hold the glass up to the light See: Observe the color Smell: Nose the aroma. Note whether it is delicate or overbearing. Does it smell like an authentic concentrate or something synthetic? Taste: Sip slowly to fully appreciate. Roll over the tongue and consider the flavor, the sweetness and the heat of the spirit. Excerpted from The Complete Book of Spirits by Anthony Dias Blue The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is a national trade association representing the leading brands of distilled spirits. Council member products include the full spectrum of quality distilled spirits such as Bourbon, Scotch and other whiskeys, vodka, gin, tequila, rum, brandy, cordials and liqueurs. The distillers take special pride in their products as well as in their commitment to encourage responsible beverage alcohol consumption by adults who choose to drink distilled spirits. If you choose to drink, be sure to consume sensibly and responsibly.