Many people have a well-equipped home bar with many essential cocktail ingredients. But when it comes to liqueurs, only a few have a wide selection at hand despite having so many beautiful options to choose from. There are fruity versions like, for instance, Melon liqueurs or liqueurs made from herbs. Then there are coffee liqueurs and also nutty liqueurs. And the hazelnut-based liqueur Frangelico truly is one of my favorites.
I prefer to drink Frangelico neat in a shot, but it is also great in cocktails. It works great in combination with creamy and chocolatey ingredients. The hazelnut aroma of Frangelico makes for sweet and delicious drinks. And for those of you still wondering what Frangelico is, how Frangelico is made, and where it is from – Here’s all you need to know about the Italian hazelnut liqueur.
What is Frangelico?
As stated, Frangelico is an Italian hazelnut liqueur. In Europe, it’s a well-liked après-ski shot after a long day in the slopes of the Alps. But Frangelico is not only famous in Europe. You will find it all over the globe, and almost every well-stocked professional bar has this gem in its repertoire. The reason is simple, Frangelico has a rich and unique taste. It’s hard to find a comparable product, making it even more difficult to find substitute products.
The bottle design of the Frangelico liqueur is as unique as the taste of the liqueur. Resembling the shape of a monk’s habit, it even includes a rope tied around the bottle’s waist.
The brand was established in 1978, but the recipe of the liqueur is a lot older. The story says that the original version of the liqueur is from the 17th century and that monks in the Piedmont region in Italy invented it. The liqueur even is named after a hermit monk called Fra’ Angelico. He was living in the hills of Piedmont during the time of the alleged invention.
How Frangelico is made
Of course, the production process is quite similar to that of other liqueurs. It uses crushed and toasted hazelnuts as a base. And cocoa, roasted coffee, and vanilla berries are also added to the mix. But I still want to give a short overview of the process of making Frangelico.
First, fresh hazelnuts harvested in the Piedmont region are toasted and crushed before being left to soak in a solution of alcohol and water. The resulting infusion is the base for a clear and natural hazelnut distillate.
In the next step, this distillate gets blended with extracts and distillates of other ingredients. These are, amongst others, cocoa, vanilla berries, roasted coffee.
To finally achieve bottle strength, this concentrate is then watered down and sweetened. Before bottling, the liqueur needs to rest for 6 to 8 weeks to allow all flavors to blend. That’s when the rich and intense hazelnut taste develops that the Frangelico is so famous for.
The difference between Amaretto and Frangelico
Frangelico is not the only famous Italian liqueur made of nuts. Amaretto is at least as famous as the hazelnut liqueur from Piedmont, if not more. But the main ingredient in Amaretto is almonds instead of hazelnut. So despite looking quite similar, the taste is different.
Frangelico offers an intense and wide array of warm notes from hazelnuts, cocoa, vanilla, and coffee. The taste of Amaretto is more one-dimensional. It is, in fact, quite sweet and almost tastes like marzipan. That should not come as a surprise, considering that marzipan also is made of almonds.
Sometimes people recommend Amaretto as a substitute for Frangelico. But here, I would strongly disagree. Both are delicious but in a very different way as they offer highly unequal flavor profiles.
If for some reason, you absolutely don’t want or can’t use Frangelico and are in need of a product to use instead, I would recommend Nocello. It’s another Italian nut liqueur made of walnuts and hazelnuts. It is much closer to Frangelico and works with many recipes asking for Frangelico.
What does Frangelico taste like?
Frangelico hazelnut liqueur is one of the nuttiest you can find. A delightful and rich hazelnut aroma blends with notes of vanilla, coffee, and cocoa. The taste is equally intense.
The flavor combination of the ingredients makes it a perfect fit for hot drinks like hot chocolate, hot milk, or also in a Cappucino. It improves and intensifies the aroma and taste of these drinks. And while the hazelnut taste dominates, vanilla, cocoa, and coffee aromas create a beautiful and intriguing flavor profile.
How to drink it
As I said, drinking Frangelico neat and chilled is my favorite. The flavors are so rich that you actually don’t need other ingredients. It’s easily one of my Top-3 choices when drinking a shot.
But Frangelico is very versatile. As mentioned, it’s great in hot drinks like hot chocolate or coffee and also works great in cocktails. It’s particularly delicious when combined with other creamy and/or chocolatey ingredients.
When mixed with spirits, Whiskey or Brandy are a great choice as base spirits. Both work great by offering a rich base to unfold all the flavors of the nutty Frangelico liqueur.
Frangelico is great in sweet cocktails. That’s also the reason why you can find it in many sophisticated dessert cocktails. For this, a good example is to be found in “PBJ” cocktails. Plus, Frangelico can be used as a nutty element to get the typical Peanutbutter & Jelly combination in liquid form.
Frangelico is an absolutely delicious liqueur made of the finest hazelnuts of Italy. It might not be the most famous of all liqueurs, but it sure is one the best ones I’ve tried. If you haven’t had the chance to try Frangelico yet, give it a chance at your next bar visit. I will promise you won’t be disappointed. The intense hazelnut taste will surely make you ask for a second round.