While some people use the term “cordial” to refer to a fruit-flavored liqueur, the words “cordial” and “liqueur” essentially mean the same thing. Both terms refer to alcoholic beverages that contain at least 2.5 percent sugar and/or dextrose by weight.
Liqueur and Cordial Flavors
Liqueurs and cordials are not only sweet, they carry pronounced flavors. An alcohol — such as brandy or gin — is mixed with natural flavors, often from fruits or plants. Examples include creme de menthe, raspberry cordial and sambuca.
Liqueurs and cordials work well before a meal as aperitifs, or after a meal as digestifs. For your aperitif, choose a more subtly flavored liqueur that won’t overwhelm the palate before the meal. Try mixing creme de cassis with champagne or serve a cocktail with triple sec, an orange-flavored liqueur. For your digestif, opt for a liqueur with a strong, pronounced flavor that complements your dessert. The almond flavor of amaretto liqueur pairs well with a chocolate almond torte, and the coffee flavor of Kahlua brings out the espresso flavor in a tiramisu.
References and ResourcesTastings.com: All About Liqueurs, Cordials & Aperitifs
Food Standards and Definitions in the United States: A Guidebook; Frank L. Gunderson
Whiskey and Spirits for Dummies; Perry Luntz
Bon Appetit Desserts: The Cookbook for All Things Sweet and Wonderful; Barbara Fairchild
The Kitchn: After-Dinner Tipples -- Digestifs