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Liqueurs have been made using herbal remedies in Europe by the Monks since midieval times. Catherine de Medici of Italy is credited to France's introduction to liqueurs upon her 1533 marriage to Henry II. Though Chartreuse and Benedictine recipes are a highly guarded secret, there are a number of liqueurs that have become generic and many producers make them.
Benedictine D.O.M. is an herbal liqueur beverage invented by Alexandre Legrand in the 19th century and produced in France. D.O.M. stands for Deo Optimo Maximo which means 'To God, most good, most great.' The Benedictine recipe contains 27 plants and spices, primarily Angelica, hyssop and lemon balm. It has a medium to deep amber color with a greenish-gold rim. Its aromas include a wealth of spices and fruit including cloves, cardamon and liquorice, mingled with honey, butterscotch, prune and orange. Its taste is full of herbs and spices, but it has a balanced sweetness. It is intense but displays true complexity.
Absinthe - Dr. Ordinaire invented Absinthe. Henri-Louis Pernod, a later owner of the recipe opened a distillery in Pontarlier in 1805. Pernod Fils was made until the production of Absinthe was banned in 1915. It was then changed to an anis based drink and became known as Pernod 51 and later, Pastis 51, which is still made by Pernod-Ricard.
Pernod Ricard is a French company that produces distilled beverages created by Paul Ricard in 1932. The main ingredients of this refreshing apperitif are star anise, a rare spice from assia, licorice from Syria and aromatic herbs from provence. The quality and harmony of the ingredients are the reason for its success and unique flavour.
Benedictine - Made with 27 herbs in the tradition of Alexandre Le Grand who got the recipe from a monk's ancient book.
Cointreau - A crystal clear liqueur made with fruits of the Angers region and exotic sweet and bitter orange peels. This secret recipe that has been made since 1849. It is often served as a digestif. Cointreau sources its bitter oranges from all over the world, mainly Spain, Brazil and Saint-Rapha?l, Haiti. It has a tangy orange and orange peel aroma as well as a bitter-sweet orange flavor, balanced by alcohol warmth.
Chartreuse - Since the 18th century, this "elixir of life" is still made with 130 herbs and spices by the Carthusian Monks.
Dubonnet - This popular apéritif is a fortified wine laced with herbs and quinine, made from Peruvian bark. Made since the mid 19th century, it is available in red and white. It has also been made in California since World War II.
Grand Marnier - This blend of Cognac and orange peels is famous world round. It is the key ingredient in Crêpes Suzette, which was first made for the King Edward IIV while he was still the Prince of Wales.
The makers of Grand Marnier, Marnier-Lapostolle, established their distillery in the 1820s but only began producing it in 1880. Grand Marnier is based mainly on cognac which gives its rich smooth taste to the sweet citrusy orange liqueur. It offers hints of spicy brandy notes and sweet balanced flavors with a warm lingering finish.
Lillet - A fortified wine, Lillet is most famous for its use in James Bond's Vesper.
Pastis - Paul Ricard was the first to market this modern day Absinthe in 1938. It is still made by Pernod-Ricard. Another brand, Henri Bardouin is still family owned, and the recipe has been passed from generation to generation.
Vermouth - The name vermouth comes from the word wormwood, which was an original ingredient, but is no longer added today. This wine based apéritif is flavored with herbs and fruits. It is also made in Italy, but the most famous is Noilly Prat, which is French.
(c) 2013 Kathy Hamlin