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The Different Kinds of French Liquors to Drink

Everything to know about the spirits that France has to offer

French liquor is world-renowned for its unique and sophisticated flavors.

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french liquor

While wine may be the first thing that comes to mind, France is also known for its wide variety of spirits and liqueurs that are beloved by alcohol and spirit connoisseurs. 

In this article, we will be exploring ten of the most popular French liquors. Whether you prefer to enjoy your drinks neat or in a cocktail, there is something for everyone to discover and savor in the world of French liquor. 

So, let’s raise a glass and dive into the top 10 French liquors you have to try!


French Liquor

Without further ado, let’s take a look at 10 of the most famous French spirits, liquors, and liqueurs. 


Cognac

Cognac is arguably one of the most popular French spirits. 

cognac

It’s a classic French brandy that is only authentic if made with a specific type of white grapes from South West France. The white grapes they use to make Cognac only come from six official vineyards in the Cognac-producing region.

This French spirit is double distilled and blended in aged oak casks. 

The final result is a delicious liqueur that tastes like honey, vanilla, nutty, and fruity all at the same time. The honey notes of Cognac are what make it so unique. It’s perfect at the end of a meal on the rocks.


Absinthe

Of all the spirits from France, Absinthe might be the most interesting. 

absinthe

Even though its originally from Switzerland, absinthe rose in popularity in France during the 19th century. Since France is responsible for the popularity increase, people just say it’s from France.

The liquor is made from the anise plant, giving it a yellow-green hue. It has a stunning emerald appearance and a very high alcohol content. 

As for the flavor, it’s a unique combination of herbs and spices. Since it has such a high alcohol content, the best way to enjoy the spirit is in one of the many cocktails that include it.

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Grand Marnier

Grand Marnier comes from Louis Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle. It was created in 1880 and is the perfect blend of Cognac and bitter oranges. 

It’s considered one of the most sophisticated French liqueurs.

It has a recognizable bottle with a red ribbon tied around it.

This liqueur is smooth and a great addition to cocktails, whether they originate from France or not. Even if you don’t want to use this bitter orange liqueur in mixed drinks, enjoying it on the rocks is worth trying. Many people add Grand Marnier to desserts, like the famous crepes Suzette. 


Armagnac

Another popular French Brandy is Armagnac. 

armangac

Similar to Cognac and other spirits from France, you can only make this Brandy if you use grapes from the Armagnac Region.

It’s known to be France’s oldest Brandy, dating back to the 14th century. 

Armagnac is a spirit that has a rich chocolate flavor that stands out the most. Other notes you’ll taste are dried fruit, grapes, and caramel. It’s oak barrel aged and is when in cocktails or even on the rocks.


Anise

Anise isn’t a specific liqueur in France, but it’s an umbrella term for various anise-flavored liqueurs.

anise

All these liqueurs come from the anise plant and feature different blends of herbs and spices. 

Some of the most popular anise spirits are the national drink of France, Pastis, Absinthe, and Aguardiente. The term anise was coined in France, but many other countries use anise to make different spirits. 


Chartreuse

Chartreuse is a liqueur that gets its name from the Chartreuse Mountains. The Chartreuse Mountain range near Grenoble is part of the French Alps. 

chartreuse

What makes Chartreuse unique is not only the color, which is a yellow or green hue, but that it’s made with over 100 herbs and spices. 

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Carthusian Monks have been making Chartreuse for over 250 years, and the recipe is still a secret.

You can try the yellow version, which has about 40% ABV, but if you want something more robust, the green one has an ABV of 55%. 

You can enjoy it on the rocks or in the Last Word, the classic Chartreuse cocktail.


Creme De Cassis

Creme de cassis is a sweet French liqueur that comes from the Burgundy Region. 

cremedecassis

They make it with blackcurrants (this translates to cassis in French). Even though you can get blackcurrants worldwide, this alcohol is protected under the protected geographical indication (PGI). 

The flavor is rich and a little tart. Some people even think there are herbs in the drink because of the tartness and bitterness, but there aren’t.

It’s one of those liqueurs perfect for mixing with white wine or champagne, a mix known as a Kir Royal. 


Triple Sec

Triple sec is a classic French liqueur often used in cocktails like margaritas. It’s created using orange peels, and some people even enjoy sipping it neat. It’s one of the few clear liqueurs. 

triplesec

We can date triple sec back to the 1800s, with Combier and Cointreau being two of the world’s largest producers of the spirit. 

It’s an excellent liqueur when adding a little flavor to your beverage without adding sweetness. 


Pastis

Pastis is one of the most famous liqueurs from France and even the country’s national drink! It’s widely popular in the South of France, but people drink it throughout the country. 

pastis

The liqueur is concentrated, so it’s not something you’ll want to enjoy on the rocks without adding anything to it.

Most people consume alcohol diluted with five parts of water to one part of Pastis. There are several different types of Pastis. 

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Visiting Chez Janou will be your best bet if you’re in France. They have over 80 kinds, and you’ll have an authentic experience. 


Calvados

Calvados is a Brandy that typically uses pears as the base, but sometimes it can be apples. 

calvados

This Brandy dates back to the 1500s and comes from the Calvados region.. 

Calvados has to bear the AOC label to be real Calvados because it’s strictly regulated. The creators age the alcohol in oak barrels for two years before it’s ready for consumption. 

Most people enjoy the beverage on the rocks with specific cheeses and or chocolate. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few questions other people are asking about French liquor. 

What is the best French liquor?

What is the best French liquor will depend on your personal preferences. That being said, most people would say that the best French liquor is Cognac or Absinthe. Grand Marnier comes in as a close third. 

What is the national drink of France?

Even though France is known for a lot of different types of alcohol and liqueur, the national drink of France is Pastis. It’s especially popular in the South of France but is enjoyed throughout the country. 

What is the name of a French liqueur?

French liqueurs don’t have a specific name. You can call them liqueurs, liquors, or by their name.


Final Thoughts

If you’re planning a trip to France, be sure to add sampling the country’s renowned wines to your itinerary. 

But don’t stop there – make sure to also explore the variety of spirits and liqueurs that France is famous for. Whether enjoyed neat, in a cocktail, or as part of a mixed drink, these beverages offer a unique and delicious taste of French culture. 

We’d love to hear from you about which one was your favorite – leave us a comment with your top pick!

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

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Paul Kushner

Written by Paul Kushner

Founder and CEO of MyBartender. Graduated from Penn State University. He always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. His restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time he turned 17 he was serving tables, and by 19 he was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, Paul opened his first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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