Liqueurs are sweet spirits. Liqueur means "to dissolve" (from the Latin word "liquifacere"), and the term is used because different flavours are dissolved into alcohol to make liqueurs. Liqueurs can also be called cordials. Liqueurs can be served alone, or they may be used as mixed drink ingredients or in recipes.
Liqueurs are defined both by the way they are made and their flavours. Some liqueurs are made with fruits, while others are made with nuts. There are liqueurs made with creams, such as creme de menthe, herbal liqueurs (often called bitters) and some made with a combination of flavourings. Amaretto, for example is almond flavoured, yet it is also made with apricot pits so it has both nut and fruit flavours.
Generic liqueurs refer to any liqueur that can be made by anyone. Creme de cacao, raspberry liqueur or almond liqueur are all examples of generic liqueur.
A proprietary liqueur is made by a single producer, has a trademarked name and is created with a specific formula. Grand Marnier and Kahlua are both proprietary liqueurs. Sambucca is another proprietary liqueur that is made from anise and botanicals. Sambucca becomes a liqueur when it is heavily sweetened, while other liqueurs are sweet before flavouring is added.