Cocktails made with floral liqueurs are aromatic and have a more or less pronounced sweetness. And this characteristic often qualifies to be turned into Valentine's cocktails.
Flowery spirits and liqueurs build the base of these drinks, often decorated with even more flowers used as a garnish.
But what floral liqueurs work best? And anyway, what floral liqueurs are there?
Liqueurs made from flowers
Liqueurs made from flowers and petals have been around for a long time. But it wasn't until the tremendous success of St Germain that those sweet, perfumed, and floral liqueurs gained traction. Only then did they become relevant in mixology.
That in itself is a bit of a mystery. Flower garnishes for cocktails and petal infusions like rosewater always have been in vogue. So why not flowery liqueurs?
Frankly, it's hard to explain, and the answer is no obvious one. Probably, the perfumed alcoholic ingredients were somehow just forgotten. But with new products like St Germain and Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto, the floral vibe rose.
Both products were successful almost instantly. So it's no surprise that both made it on our list. But there's a lot more to discover.
1. Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto
Italicus is a relatively new product, although it feels like it has been there forever. In 2016 Giuseppe Gallo presented his recently created liqueur Italicus. The idea was to revive an ancient Italian tradition - the Rosolios.
Rosolios are liqueurs predominantly infused and flavored with rose petals. In the case of Italicus, there's a second vital ingredient: The citric notes of Bergamot oranges, therefore the term "di Bergamotto". And those blend perfectly with the floral notes.
Italicus quickly became a staple in bars, especially for spring cocktail menus. It's refreshing, floral, and a fantastic ingredient for numerous cocktails.
2. St Germain Elderflower liqueur
Elderflower is a famous ingredient for floral syrups or juices in central and northern Europe. The taste is sweet and distinctly floral, with a hint of acid. In fact, describing or comparing its taste is sheer impossible. You have to try it yourself.
The elderflower liqueur from St Germain is the most popular of its kind. It captures the unique taste of elderflower like no other product does.
Because the liqueur blends so well with almost every ingredient, it is also known as a bartender's ketchup.
But St Germain is more than that. It's the epitome of summer and spring cocktails, especially when combined with lemon juice and Gin.
3. Parfait Amour
This liqueur's name is a French term that translates to "perfect love". And this is not the only reason why Parfait Amour is mainly known for Valentine's cocktails.
The combination of intense floral notes and the beautiful purple color make it a perfect match for colorful and romantic cocktails.
The name suggests we're talking about a product from a specific brand. But that's not the case. Quite the opposite, as various brands produce Parfait Amour.
Each brand has its very own unique set of ingredients. Still, the resulting liqueur always has a similar aroma, taste, and color.
4. Chamomile liqueur
Chamomile is most famous for its use in tea. Ordinary chamomile tea has a mellow taste with hints of apples and a sweet note that reminds of honey.
However, the liqueur made from chamomile flowers is a rather rare cocktail ingredient. The Ve.n.to cocktail is one of the few popular cocktails I'm aware of that contains chamomile liqueur.
And this recipe also shows where chamomile liqueur shines best. It includes a perfectly balanced combination of lemon juice, honey or honey syrup, and chamomile. - A sure winner.
The taste is a beautiful mix of sweet, sour, herbal, and flowery. And when paired with a light spirit like Gin, Vodka, or Grappa, you'll get a tasty sweet and sour cocktail.
5. Combier Liqueur de Rose
This rose petal liqueur from Combier is another fabulous floral liqueur. It is based on a spirit made from sugar beet and infused with handpicked rose petals from France.
The flavor and aroma shows are a perfect balance between sweet and floral. Together with the light rose color, it's a perfect ingredient for rose-flavored cocktails.
My preferred combination is a mix of Combier Liqueur de Rose with Dry Champagne. If you don't want to spend a fortune on a great Champagne, you can also use another dry sparkling wine like Prosecco or Cava.
Rozulin is a traditional rose liqueur from Dubrovnik, Croatia. This liqueur has a long history, and locals have been making Rozulin every spring for centuries.
Only clean, unfertilized, and intensely colored petals are used to make the liqueur. That ensures that the result color is as bright as possible.
The petals are then mixed with sugar and put into a sunny place until the sugar has completely dissolved. Typically this process takes about one month, after which the mash gets mixed with spirit - in most cases, a grape brandy.
Rozulin is closely related to the Italian Rosolio liqueur and is often consumed as an aperitif or in classic Croatian desserts like rožata custard.
7. Grand Poppy liqueur
If you love floral aromas but aren't a fan of overly sweet liqueurs, this Poppy liqueur might be your perfect choice.
Crafted in the style of Italian Amaro liqueurs, Grand Poppy is flavored with California poppies, dandelion, artichoke, and pink peppercorns, among others.
The base spirit is made from molasses, which is also reflected in the rich, slightly sweet, and complex taste. Further, the molasses base makes this floral liqueur a perfect match for aged spirits like Rum.
Tastewise, Grand Poppy has the characteristic bittersweet taste of an earthy amaro with rich floral notes and hints of black tea.
8. Crème de Violette
Crème de Violette and other liqueurs made from violet flowers once used to be a staple in cocktail bars. That was before prohibition. After the prohibition era ended, the violet-colored liqueurs became almost forgotten.
Luckily, the revival of the Aviation cocktail also brought back the demand for this floral liqueur. But Crème de Violette is not only a vital ingredient in cocktail classics.
Just a splash of Crème de Violette with sparkling wine or a white aperitif wine like Lillet is enough to create a tasty, complex, floral drink.
9. Sorel Artisanal liqueur
Hibiscus can be found in various cocktails and mocktails. But you rarely see hibiscus-flavored liquors. This low-ABV liqueur (15% ABV) brings amazingly floral hibiscus notes into drinks. And Sorel Artisanal also adds a bit of spice.
Based on an organic grain spirit, this floral liqueur is spiced with nutmeg from Indonesia, cloves from Brazil, ginger from Nigeria, and hibiscus from Morocco.
The flavor profile is lovely with a subtle sweetness, bitter notes of hibiscus, and a gentle spice from the ginger. This crafty liqueur works in many different drinks. Yet, I prefer it in rich and complex tiki cocktails.
10. Tattersall Crème de Fleur
Most floral liqueurs focus on one flower, like roses, violets, chamomile flowers, etc. However, Tattersall uses a different approach and combines many different ones into one floral flavor bomb.
Their Crème de Fleur gets distilled from six different kinds of flowers. After the distillation process, more flowers are added in an extra maceration step to bring even more floral notes into the liqueur.
The result is a wonderful flowery liqueur that makes for a perfect addition to a Vodka Soda, French 75, Gin & Tonic, and other cocktails.