Origin of liqueurs and their history

Liquor is one of the most famous dessert alcoholic drinks.

For the production of liqueurs, double rectification alcohol is used as a base, and any fruit and berry herbal additive: fruit and berry juices, infusions of predominantly odorous herbs and aromatic roots, cocoa, coffee, essential oils, essences, etc. The sugar content ranges from 200 to 400 grams per liter, and the fortress is from 17 to 70% vol.

Liqueurs have a long history with a touch of contradiction, ancient secrets and centuries of magic.

The first similar drink is found in ancient Egyptian manuscripts. However, the wide scope of the production of liqueurs falls in the Middle Ages. In those distant times, monks, alchemists and healers were actively searching for the elixir of eternal youth and immortality. In monasteries, for the treatment of ailments, wound healing, alcohol drugs infused with medicinal herbs and containing the juice of fruits and berries were used. Often such tinctures were very bitter, and in order to soften the bitterness and sweeten, they began to add honey – these were the progenitors of modern liqueurs.

Tradition says that the first to tell the world about the liquor in 1510 was a Benedictine monk of Venetian origin, Don Bernardo Vinzelli, who lived in distant Normandy (a region in northwestern France) in the city of Fécamp in the monastery of St. Benedict. When he tasted the drink he created, he exclaimed: “Benedictine!”, Which means “Blessed!” And now, on every label of this amazing liquor, there is the abbreviation DOM, an abbreviation for Deo Optima Maximo – “Glory to God, the greatest, most powerful and kindest!”

At first, the Benedictines made a drink only for their own needs, carefully keeping its recipe. It was used to restore vitality and health, to heal wounds, strengthening the willpower and masculine spirit of wounded warriors. However, the strong liqueur was very much to the taste of the King of France, Francis I, and thanks to him it became very popular.

Production of the Benedictine continued until 1789, when the French Revolution closed all monasteries. In 1863, the wine merchant Alexander Le Grand found an old manuscript with a recipe for this liqueur and revived its production by building a new, most modern production of this miracle drink at that time. They say that only three people know the recipe for Benedictine. It contains more than 75 medicinal and aromatic herbs that stimulate appetite, improve digestion, and heal the soul and heart. Louis XVI used this drink to overcome his famous migraine. And therefore, in the XVII – XVIII centuries, Benedictine was very popular at the royal courts, among the nobility and successful merchants.

France is famous for many world-famous exquisite and refined liqueurs, which brought glory to this country and huge incomes to its treasury.

Another liqueur that was born in France in the monastery walls is Chartreuse. According to one version, in the 16th century, the monks were given a scroll with instructions for creating the elixir of life, the recipe of which they kept in the strictest confidence. According to another version, Marshal of France Francois d’Estre gave the monks of the Grande Chartreuse monastery a manuscript with a recipe for a drink that gives immortality. The drink was 71 degrees strong, infused with 130 herbs! The monks began to make this elixir of longevity, improve it and sell it in nearby towns, where it was a success due to its healing properties. So in 1764 the famous Chartreuse was born. To this day, this liqueur is produced in only one place – in an ancient alpine monastery and the main components of this drink, their proportions are zealously guarded. 

Another well-known liqueur from France is Chambord. At the end of the 17th century, King Louis XIV of France arrived at Chambord Castle, where he was treated to a locally produced liqueur made from wild blackberries. The drink so pleased His Majesty that it became an integral part of any royal feast. After the death of the monarch, they began to forget about the liquor. And only at the end of the 20th century, the American NG Sky Cooper revived and launched the large-scale production of this miracle drink.

The enterprising Dutch, unlike the French, launched the production of liquor not as a medicine, but as a new type of alcoholic product. This was facilitated by not so strict laws and colonies rich in orange – a variety of orange that was introduced by the Spaniards. Due to the difference in climatic conditions, the fruits became not so juicy and sweet, but they were very bitter and unsuitable for food, they simply rotted on the ground.

But it turned out that the orange peel, dried in the sun, accumulated a sweet and fragrant oil. This oil, plus spices, is the best fit for creating an amazing Curacao liqueur. Dutch liquor can be called “royal”, it was available only to the elite of society.

For the production of liqueurs, the 19th century became a golden period: the quality of the drink improved significantly, the range expanded, production volumes increased, and prices decreased. The drink poured into the masses, became popular and conquered the whole world.

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