For many, a chilled glass of homemade licorice liqueur is the perfect digestif after a meal. Not only because of its sweet and herbal taste but because it has some real medical benefits.
In Northern Europe, especially in Scandinavia, a salty version of this liqueur is preferred because it tastes like Salmiakki.
Salmiakki is the Finnish name for a salty licorice candy that's super popular in Finland. But also people from other Northern European countries, Belgium, the Netherlands, and North Germany love it.
However, regular licorice and Salmiakki are quite different in taste, and so are the resulting liqueurs. So I should point out that our recipe is for making an Italian version of licorice liqueur.
If you want to try the difference get some of our recommendations here.
What is licorice?
Licorice, and the liqueur made from it, is digestive, diuretic, and even protects the gastric mucous. In Italy, the dark, almost black digestif is almost as cherished as Limoncello.
The naturally black-colored licorice itself is made from the extract of the roots of the licorice plant.
A traditional liqueur from Calabria
Calabria is a region in Southern Italy known to be an important producer of licorice. Licorice, as I mentioned, is candy from the extract from licorice roots that find excellent growing conditions in the region.
For centuries, people have been consuming licorice for medical reasons. And the licorice from Calabria was renowned all over Europe for its excellent quality.
Therefore, I recommend using Calabrian licorice powder to make homemade licorice liqueur. Other types work, too, but the taste of the Italian licorice is very well-balanced with just the perfect contrast of sweetness and bitterness.
Ingredients of homemade licorice liqueur
If you plan to make licorice liqueur at home, you want to have the right ingredients. In this case, this means choosing the best-suited form of licorice and also choosing the corresponding alcohol.
Choosing the licorice
You can use licorice in a variety of forms. Our recipe uses licorice powder to infuse the taste into the liqueur. Alternatively, you can also use pure licorice extract or very pure forms of licorice candy.
Licorice drops or sticks with a high amount of licorice are other great options.
And again, so you won't forget, the licorice should be produced in Calabria. Otherwise, the balance of ingredients is not perfect, and the resulting liqueur could be either too sweet or too bitter.
Alcohol for making licorice liqueur
For the base, use a high-ABV neutral grain spirit. Use a 95% ABV (190 proof) from your local liquor store.
Don't worry. The final result will be much lower in ABV after mixing it with sugar, water, and licorice.
How to make licorice liqueur
Making DIY licorice liqueur is actually pretty easy and shouldn't take more than half an hour of active cooking.
You begin by adding licorice powder, sugar, and a bit of water to a saucepan.
Start stirring the mixture and gradually add more water to incorporate the elements. Once all the water went in, turn the heat to medium while stirring the licorice, sugar, and water mix.
Bring the mixture to a boil and then immediately reduce the heat. Let the mix simmer for about 15 minutes before you turn off the heat.
Now you have licorice syrup which has to cool down to room temperature before you add our neutral grain spirit. Stir the alcohol in and confirm that everything is combined before bottling the liqueur.
Once bottled, the liqueur should be stored in the fridge for at least one day before you drink it. However, it's better to let it sit for 4 to 5 weeks so the liqueur can build up its full aroma and flavor.
Shake the bottle from time to time to prevent lumps of licorice.
- 4.5 cups Water
- 3 cups Sugar
- 2 cups 95% ABV grain alcohol
- 1.5 cups Calabrian licorice powder
- Combine sugar and licorice powder in a saucepan and mix it.
- Gradually add water while stirring the mixture.
- Place the saucepan on medium heat and keep on stirring. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat.
- Let the mix simmer for 15 minutes, then take it off the heat.
- Cover and let it cool down to room temperature.
- Stir again before and while adding the grain spirit.
- Bottle your liqueur and store it in the fridge. Leave it there for at least 4 to 5 weeks and occasionally shake the bottle to prevent lumps of licorice.