Cordials, often referred to as liqueurs, are alcoholic spirits that have been infused with fruit, nuts, spices, and/or other flavors. Cordials tend to be on the sweet side and are popular components in a wide range of mixed drinks.
It can be difficult to determine what counts as a cordial these days, with the popularity of flavored vodka and other infused spirits on the rise. The key to determining what counts as a cordial is the inclusion of sugar. If the spirit has been sweetened beyond the flavor provided by the infusion, then it is a cordial. If no additional sugar has been added, it is simply a flavored version of whatever the base spirit is. Although many people use “cordial” and “liqueur” interchangeably these days, there are still some who differentiate between the two, considering cordials to be specifically those infused with fruit juice.
There are a wide variety of cordials available in liquor stores today in almost every flavor imaginable, infused with everything from apricot pits to elderflowers. Some contribute not only to the taste of mixed drinks, but the appearance too. Brilliantly-colored cordials such as Midori (green melon liqueur) and Hpnotiq (blue tropical liqueur) can be used to create colored mixed drinks that appeal to the eye as well as the palate.