The Cordial Course – How Cordial

By Robert Paul –


Along with the comeback of martinis and other mixed drinks, the cordial or after-dinner liqueur is enjoying a renaissance. I, for one, am all for it. A portion of my bar is devoted to drinks that I bring out after dessert. The bottles are artistic looking and the liquids therein are either sweet, tangy or heady. And the little cordial glasses are quite handsome whether they are vintage or modern. Some people collect them. They don’t have to match. Basically, cordials or liqueurs are flavor-infused spirits, which are not aged for long. Fruits, nuts, spices, or herbs are the infusers. Some cordials are creamy, most are not. But all of them are concentrated and fairly powerful. That’s why the glasses are small. You don’t need a lot.

A cordial is the perfect way to end a meal because drinking one invariably extends it. Guests choose a bottle, pour a little, sip a little, talk a lot. Sometimes we take our cordials and move away from the table to a comfortable sitting area or we drift outside to the screened porch for the second round of cordials. For some people, a cordial begs for a good cigar.


A good and generous host should put out about four to six different bottles of cordials. Choice is a good thing. Expect guests to enjoy their cordials in varying ways. Someone will ask for ice. Another will pour a cordial into black coffee. Someone else will think it needs a piece of chocolate to complete the flavor profile. Pouring a little cordial onto ice cream is not unheard of in our house either. But, the best way to drink a cordial is straight at room temperature in sips not gulps.

And don’t wait for guests to enjoy a cordial. Enjoying a cordial is a civilized way to finish a meal any day of the week whether you’re dining solo or with company. By the way, a bottle of liqueur is a great hostess gift.

If you’re building a basic cordial collection, here are my picks.

B&B: A 60-40 blend of Benedictine liqueur and Otard cognac. Delicious.

Limoncello: Italian lemon liqueur produced mainly in southern Italy. Tangy.

Godiva Chocolate Liqueur: tastes like liquid chocolate with a kick and is very smooth going down.

Drambuie: mixture of scotch whiskeys, heather honey, herbs, etc. People who like this one, really like it and will choose it exclusively every time.

Cointreau or Grand Marnier: these have an orange flavor. Keep a bottle in the kitchen for cooking since both dessert and some savory recipes call for a tablespoon or so.

Kahlua: a coffee-flavored cordial. Drink by itself or pour a little into coffee or over ice cream. Kahlua is also an ingredient in several delicious cocktails

# # #


Scroll to Top