How to make Liqueur

So you want to know how to make liqueur? What about how to make schnapps, or maybe even cordial? Well the last two depend on your definition of the word and what you “really” mean, but I can teach you how to make liqueur, a sweet flavored infusion of alcohol, because it is easy! Many of the home made liqueurs you will find are what people would refer to as a cordial or schnapps, it just depends on how you define it. See my page on What is liqueur?

What you need to make Liqueur:

  • Base alcohol, vodka, rum, cognac, brandy, depends on recipe
  • Ingredients and flavorings, any combo of spice, fruit, veggie
  • 2 x large (750ml) bottles or jars
  • Various size funnels for kitchen use
  • Filtering material, paper towels, coffee filters, nylon mesh

How to make Liqueur:

STEP 1. Infuse ingredients or flavorings

-Prepare all ingredients to be infused

At this point you need to cut, smash, quarter, pulpify, or wash your various ingredients. Be sure that everything is clean, fresh and ready to go into the alcohol. You are preparing everything except your sweetener because you typically don’t add it at this stage in the process.

 -Place into sealed container with alcohol

You will need a dark undisturbed area to keep your steeping liqueur. Place all of your ingredients into your base alcohol and seal the container. Now put it in your dark place.

 -Let steep for X time

As with most of the steps, this depends on the recipe. You will typically see two to four weeks as the steeping time, but you can vary this at will to make the taste stronger or lighter. You may need to taste test the steeping liquid and move onto straining and filtering when the taste seems right. This part of the process can definitely be an art.

STEP 2. Strain and Filter your flavored alcohol

-Prepare containers and filters

Now you have an infused vodka or base alcohol. You need to get your containers set up that you will be transferring your concoction into.

 -Three stage filtration

Starting with the most loose or rough filter. Pour the infused alcohol slowly through the filter into one of your containers.  If you have large chunks of fruit or other matter, you may need to wrap them in your straining material and squeeze. Then do the same but with the medium filter and finally the finest filter.

At any time during straining and filtering, if the material clogs up quickly you will probably need to perform that filter stage twice or more.

If you decide you like the flavor without sweetening it. Then by all means move on to Aging and skip the sweetening step. (of course then it is not really a Liqueur, but still could be tasty)

STEP 3. Add sweetener (honey, sugar, syrup, etc)

-This is really what makes it a Liqueur and not just infused vodka or alcohol

A huge part of the flavor profile is SWEET. That means whatever you decide to sweeten the liqueur with will be maybe the biggest component of flavor. You can change that depending on how much sweet you add. Whatever you choose try to compliment the other flavors involved.

 -Add in your sweet stuff

Adding a sweetening agent could be as simple as pouring in a cup of honey. Or you may need to boil sugar in water to make a simple syrup. Generally follow the recipe. However I feel that plain refined sugar lacks a lot of flavor. Honey seems to work better in many cases. Be aware that there are several varieties of honey.

STEP 4. Age your Liqueur

-Place into another sealed container

Now that you have added sweet into your infused alcohol, you can drink your delicious beverage or age it to let flavors mingle. This is where many home liqueuer makers will place the sweetened liqueur into a bottle and cork it or seal it air tight. Again find a dark undisturbed place to keep your Liqueur. Keep it out of sight as well, as you don’t want to be tempted to open it before it is ready. I say that , but when you first start doing this, it is a good idea to taste your Liqueurs often to see how the flavor changes as they age.

 -Age for X time based on recipe

For almost every recipe you will want at least a few weeks of aging. Some recipes will tell you to just drink it now, but most get better with time. Be wary that at some point, months or years away the flavor may start to turn. However it should never become harmful if the alcohol content is high enough, which it always is in a true Liqueur.


I made my first Liqueur! What now!?

Now you enjoy it! Be sure to read How to drink Liqueur. Did it come out good? Bad? Try it again, vary the recipe, add new ingredients!

If it tasted to simple and plain, then add more ingredients to create more complex flavor, or use a fresher ingredient. Remember even with something like a Lime, there is a variety of limes out there. You may have to search around your grocery stores and shops to find the good stuff. Create something that has not been done before!

Make sure to let me know what you created, whether it was good or not. I’ll feature your creation on my site and maybe try it myself! (or you can send me a sample of yours 😉

18 thoughts on “How to make Liqueur”

  1. I am in the tropics and cannot insure that temperatures do not rise to 40 oC.My problem is that my liqueurs shelf life is much reduced and sometimes develop madere flavours and go off taste. Can something be done to improve the situation?

  2. If your Liqueurs are getting off flavors from staying too warm, then I don’t know of much you can do besides store them in a cooler place. Perhaps you have a deep, dark basement? Or perhaps you can buy a mini fridge that you could turn on low and store them at a slightly chilled state?

    Storing them a little colder than normal definitely won’t harm them and should resolve the issue.

  3. Pingback: Liqueur love |
  4. Hey man I’m thinking of a scotch liqure and a liqure rum if i put 1/4 part galliano galliano and 8 bottles of scotch dilstill it and let it age 8-18 years how do you think this will go? and I’m thinking of distilling it all the way down to 100 proof and adding sugar syrup aroung a 1/4 cup of sugar syrup and letting it age i’ll try one with honey aswell. i don’t thiink i’ll like one much with the honey.!
    then with my rum liqure i’m thinking 1/38 of galliano clear 1/14 of galliano galliano with 8 bottles of rum a a grain of salt distilled aged on a shelf for 8 years. what do you think??

  5. Interesting ideas! I’ve never aged anything longer than a year or two.. I’m also not sure about distilling (as I’ve never done that myself) and if you do that after mixing ingredients you may lose a lot of flavor. I normally add ingredients to hard liquor which is already distilled.

    Let me know how things work out!

  6. I’ve made Milk Liqueur – equal parts milk, vodka, and sugar. Add whole citrus fruit (I added crystallized ginger as well). Place in jar. In the dark. Shake daily for 21 days… I was away and asked family to stop by and shake – who knows… Strain. Strain. Strain until crystal clear golden liquid appears. Yum!!! I found that four months later it is magic, especially over ice with equal amount of rum. Slow sip. thin straw. You will not know what hit you.

    I plan to make ginger liqueur with vodka and honey for the spring.

  7. I haven’t, but that sounds delicious. If you find a recipe for maple pecan liqueur, you might just try using whiskey instead of whatever other base alcohol it recommends.

  8. I made a tea liquer that is much too strong. If I add sugar syrup to half of it , then it tastes fine, but will it have enough alcohol in it (vodka) to keep it safe and tasty ? If not, what do you suggest I do? One idea would be to add the sugar syrup to it at the time it is served. What do you think is best?

    I also live in the Tropics and didn’t realize until I read some other comments that the liqueurs are not likely to last as long as the ones I make in the USA northwest where I live half the year. That was helpful information. Now when I give the liqueurs as gifts I might add something like “Use within 6 months” unless you have another suggestion

  9. It’ll probably be easier if you go ahead and sweeten it to taste. I doubt you’ll sweeten it enough to reduce the shelf life by much.

    HomeBrew Underground has a good article on calculating ABV for liqueurs:

    I’ve had liqueurs that taste better after six months to a year or two of sitting on the shelf.. you really just have to learn each liqueur you make to know when the flavor will go off. It can be hard to know as many recipe authors don’t document that. Most liqueurs in my experience will be fine for 6 months to a year if you filtered it well.

  10. How would i make chocolate schnapps. I find recipes for fruit or spice schnapps but none for chocolate I had some chocolate schnapps that was home made and it was awesome

  11. Hey Val! If you are talking about schnapps in the American sense, then you are really just talking about liqueur. The word schnapps is used in North America for any neutral grain-based spirit that is flavored and sweetened. That is, you could consider any recipe on this site, or any “chocolate liqueur” recipe a schnapps.

    If you are talking about European schnapps then you would basically need to manufacture a grain or fruit spirit, which My site doesn’t cover and is probably beyond what you want to do.

    You could try my coffee chocolate liqueur recipe or search for any chocolate liqueur recipe to try out.

  12. Hello Rusty,
    I am trying to make spice liqueur. The recipe calls for a six-month maceration period. I have found recipes that call for 3-weeks maceration and even a month, but is a six-month maceration period even possible? When I see these other recipes, I wonder if the the person meant 1 month maceration 5 months aging. The recipe does not speak about aging just the maceration period.

  13. Hi guys. I really wanna make some cocoa blanc liqueur because here in Brazil it’s almost impossible to find it. When you do it’s expensive like both your eyes and half of your stomach. Do you guys have some tips to make it look cristal clear? Thank’s in advance.

  14. Hmm. I’d imagine you want to use cocoa extract or flavor instead of real cacao. Most extracts are clear.. and then you want to filter it like crazy. Probably use white sugar instead of brown sugar for your simple syrup..

  15. Rafael, I haven’t seen a recipe that requires infusing for that period. You might make two batches – one batch infusing a month and the other infusing six and see how they both come out.

    If you only make one I would recommend only infusing for a month or two max.

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