8 of the most common liqueurs, explained

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Not many people can say that their mom makes a stiff cocktail.

But I can. Later in life, my mom decided to go to bartending school and get her certificate. Her intention wasn't to be shaking cocktails until 2 a.m.; instead, she wanted to tend bar at a local mom-and-pop Italian restaurant, where she could pour drinks and chat with the regulars.

"I do it for the social interaction," she says of the job she's held for four years now. "It's fun to meet new people and hear about their days, plus I like to experiment and invent different specialty cocktails." Vodka, rum and gin cocktails are the most common requests, but liqueurs are a great way to add a refreshing twist on a classic, she explains.

Liqueur, not to be confused with liquor, is a type of sweet alcoholic drink made from flowers, nuts, spices, herbs and some type of alcohol. They are bold enough to stand on their own but also make great mixers. Here, an exploration and explanation of the eight most common liqueurs you're likely to come across.

(1) Amaretto
Amaretto, meaning "a little bitter" in Italian, is a popular almond-flavored liqueur that's typically made from apricot pits, but it can also include additional spices and flavors depending on the brand. Sip it solo, add a little club soda or a splash of orange juice.

(2) Baileys Irish Cream
When you hear the word Baileys, do you immediately envision yourself curled up in a blanket on the couch by the fireplace with an Irish cream-spiked hot chocolate? The combination of Irish whiskey, cream and chocolate makes it a delicious drink on its own or mixed in a cocktail.

(3) Campari
This dark red liqueur is made from a combination of herbs and fruit, and is often served on the rocks or in popular cocktails, such as the Negroni.

(4) Cointreau
An orange-flavored liqueur that's a big player in many cocktail recipes, it is the perfect combination of bitter and sweet and used in classics like the Cosmopolitan (ahem, my mom's signature drink). Don't forget to garnish with a squeeze of lime.

(5) Frangelico
This delicate liqueur is made from toasted hazelnuts and has hints of cocoa and vanilla. Similar to many sweet liqueurs, it can be mixed in a variety of cocktails or simply enjoyed on the rocks.

(6) Kahlúa
Meet the number one-selling coffee liqueur in the world. Our resident bartender says the most popular cocktail requests she gets using the coffee liqueur are White and Black Russians.

(7) St-Germain
Flavored with elderflowers and carrying hints of sweet and floral notes, St-Germain has a subtle taste but can hold its own among other spirits, such as gin, Champagne, vodka and rum.

(8) Sambuca
Sambuca is a strong, colorless Italian liqueur that's flavored with anise and licorice. An Italian after-dinner favorite is a Sambuca, ghiaccio e mosche ("Sambuca, ice and flies"), which consists of a couple shots of sambuca with coffee beans.

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