Liquor vs. Liqueur: What’s the Difference?

Writers are notorious for their predilection for stiff drinks—Ernest Hemingway was a famous drunk, and later, authors like Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson followed in his footsteps. If you want to be taken seriously as a writer, you’d better know what you’re talking about when it comes to alcohol.

Too much alcohol is bad for you, but a reasonable amount can make an enjoyable activity even more pleasant.

Fortunately, there are many drinks that contain alcohol, so if you don’t like one, you can always try another.

For individuals who don’t enjoy the taste of beer or wine, liquor is another option. Liquor can be mixed into other drinks, like cola or fruit juice, or drunk on its own in very small quantities.

Knowing how to drink it is fine, but how should it be spelled? Many colorful, enticing bottles are labeled liquor, while others are labelled liqueur.

If you are interested in the difference between these beverages, read this article quickly, while you are still sober.

What is the Difference Between Liquor and Liqueur?

In this article, I will compare liquor vs. liqueur. I will use each word in a sentence to demonstrate its proper meaning.

I will also explain a helpful trick to help you remember whether you should order liquor or liqueur next time you want to enjoy a tasty drink.

When to Use Liquor

Definition of liqueur definition of liquor definitionWhat does liquor mean? Liquor is a noun. It refers to a strong alcoholic drink in American English, or generally to any alcoholic drink in British English—including wine and beer.

For example,

  • If you drink too much liquor, you will become sick.
  • In some places, liquor can only be bought at state-run outlets.
  • John Morris started selling lures and bait out of the back of his father’s liquor store in Springfield, Mo., in the early 1970s because he was dissatisfied with the tackle sold at nearby shops. –The Wall Street Journal

When to Use Liqueur

Define liqueur and define liquorWhat does liqueur mean? Liqueur is also a noun that refers to a type of alcoholic drink. Liqueur is actually a specific type of liquor, one that is sweet and typically taken after a meal or as part of a dessert. Liqueur comes in many flavors, but they are all sweet.

These following sentences are examples of the correct usage of the word liqueur.

  • Mix coffee liqueur, Irish cream liqueur, and vodka to form a Mud Slide, but only drink a small amount.
  • We got drunk on cherry liqueur and danced to “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” from The Smiths’ 1986 album The Queen Is Dead.
  • Cooper was a scion of the family that owns Charles Jacquin et Cie, an old cordials and liqueurs house based in Philadelphia. –The New York Times

Trick to Remember the Difference

liquor versus liqueurHere is a helpful trick to remember liqueur vs. liquor.

Liquor and liqueur are both alcoholic drinks, but liqueur is a specific type of beverage. It refers to a flavored, sweet liquor, generally enjoyed after a meal.

There is a simple way to remember the meaning of liqueur. Liqueur is a sweet drink, and both liqueur and sweet have at least one letter “E” in their spelling.


Is it liquor or liqueur? Both of these words refer to a type of alcoholic drink, but one of more specific than the other.

  • Liquor refers to a beverage that contains alcohol.
  • Liqueur is a specific type of alcoholic beverage.

You can remember that liqueur is sweet because both words have at least one “E” in their spelling.

Now you will know whether to use liqueur or liquor when writing about specific types of alcohol.

  • When referring to alcohol in general, especially very strong substances, choose liquor.
  • When referring to a more flavored, sweet beverage, choose liqueur.

If you are ordering drinks at a bar and want to have an enjoyable or productive day tomorrow, choose a soft drink instead. Water is another, more healthful option.