10 Best Known Italian Liquors

When people think of Italy, the first thing that comes to their mind is probably the splendid food. Well, Italians also have a lot of Italian liquor to accompany their dishes. If you love eating Italian food, you’ll probably enjoy it even more together with some of these liquors.

1. Disaronno

Disaronno is a brand of Italian liqueur.

Before you get confused, let us first clarify the difference between liquor vs. liqueur. Liquor is an unsweetened distilled alcoholic drink, such as vodka, tequila, or whiskey.

The liqueur is also a distilled alcoholic drink but usually sweet and made with neutral spirits with sugar, fruit, or other aromas.

Disaronno - The Proud Italian

So, Disaronno is a liqueur with a characteristic bittersweet almond taste.

The interesting part is that no almonds or nuts are used in the production of this Italian drink. And why does it taste like that, we don’t know. The recipe is secret.

We only know that they use an infusion of apricot kernel essential oil flavored with seventeen selected herbs and fruits.

It sure sounds like a fascinating beverage.

2. Strega

Strega is vibrant yellow, bittersweet liqueur cordial. If you are into drinks with unique tastes, this one is for you.

It’s created with a distillation of 70 different spices, botanicals, and herbs–among which are Ceylon cinnamon, Florentine iris, mint, saffron, etc.

The liqueur ages in ash barrels and the final result is an herbal, sweet, and strong alcoholic drink.

It has a fairly strange name. Strega means witch in Italian. The name comes from the city where they first made this drink. The city of Benevento is mostly linked with popular legends full of supernatural elements.

Witches and wizards are a big part of the story, so that’s probably why this unique Italian drink got the name. It matches the uniqueness of its taste.

Italian liquor - The Proud Italian

3. Frangelico

Frangelico is another liqueur on our list of best-tasting liquor that comes from Italy.

This liqueur is a traditional hazelnut cordial from Piedmont. They make it with local hazelnuts and other natural extracts like cocoa and vanilla. Then they add to this base concentrate some alcohol, sugar, and water and leave it to age.

The result is pale gold liquor with a sweet taste. You can drink it neat, on the rocks, or in different kinds of fancy cocktails. Then again, the Italian way to enjoy this drink is with coffee.

The legend behind Frangelico is that Christian monks who lived in Piedmonte started making hazelnut distillates first. So, the name comes from a similar legend of a hermit monk named Fra’ Angelico.

If you have a sweet tooth, you will most likely love this Italian liquor. Just don’t forget to drink it with a good cup of coffee.

Another good combination you could try is drinking Frangelico while enjoying tiramisu.

italian tiramisu

4. Fernet

Fernet is an Italian-style liqueur made with 40 herbs and spices. They use saffron, juniper, rhubarb, aloe, chamomile, mint, and many other ingredients to create its complex bittersweet taste.

Italians use Fernet as a digestif. Digestifs are drinks that help digestion, and that is why they drink them after the meal. Also, Italians have other drinks that they drink before the meal.

If you were wondering what an aperitif is, it’s the drink that opens their appetite and gets the meal going. As you can see, Italians have their own way of doing all things. They enjoy their food and their famous liquors to the fullest.


If you want to try the most popular brand of fernet, that would be Fernet Branca from Milano. If you want to drink fernet in a worldly way, that would be in the classic cocktails like Toronto or Hanky Panky.

If you want to drink it in the Italian way, drink it in the “caffè corretto,” a coffee spiked with liqueur. You can also drink it in the Argentinian way, together with Coca-Cola to create the iconic Fernet-Cola.

Drink it however you like, as long as you do it in full swing.

5. Sambuca

Sambuca is a licorice-flavored liquor with an alcohol content of 42%. Thus it’s potent like vodka and whiskey. The funny thing is that with Sambuca, you can easily be deceived and drink more than you should, thanks to its sweetness.

It’s an anise-flavored liquor, and it belongs to the family of pastis and raki. The ingredients they use to make Sambuca are star anise, white elderflower, essential oils, licorice, and spices. However, the ingredients they use to sweeten the drink are a closely guarded secret.

Sambuca - The Proud Italian

This licorice alcohol comes in three types. The White Sambuca is the traditional and most popular type. It has a mellower licorice taste and lighter color. The Black Sambuca is deep blue, and Red Sambuca is bright red.

Molinari is the brand that became the most popular licorice alcohol in Italy and globally. If you want to consume this liqueur the Italian way, that would be ‘Sambuca con Mosca,’ meaning neat with often three coffee beans floated atop.

6. Aperol

The Barbieri brothers invented this liqueur in Padua. They produced the original secret infusion of bitter and sweet oranges, rhubarb, herbs, and low alcohol content of 11% ABV. The flavor you get is a unique combination of bitter, fruity, and floral flavors and a low alcoholic content.

Aperol - The Proud Italian

The initial idea was to drink Aperol as an aperitif, served over ice. However, the Italians seem to have taken on Aperol differently, since the most commercial combination became Aperol Spritz – a light apéritif that combines Aperol, Prosecco, and a splash of soda water.

7. Limoncello

Limoncello is a strong lemon liqueur that you can drink as an aperitif as well as a digestif. It was patented first on the island of Capri, and it’s linked most strongly with Sorrento and Amalfi Coast, but Italians also produce it throughout the whole country.

Limoncello - The Proud Italian

They make it by macerating lemon rinds in alcohol. It’s a combination of lemon zest, alcohol, water, and sugar. And of course, as you can notice from its name and its ingredients, this liqueur is bright yellow and with a lemony taste.

However, it may come to you as a surprise, but Limoncello isn’t sour because it doesn’t contain lemon juice. It’s really fresh, sweet, and aromatic, with strong citrus notes. If you like lemon, lime, and marine scents, this Italian liquor would be an excellent choice to freshen up.

And if you want to experiment, add Limoncello to various desserts and enjoy the fruitful results.

8. Campari

Campari is a jewel-red Italian liquor with a strong bittersweet flavor. You might need some getting used to the taste since it’s quite refreshingly bitter.

Gaspare Campari invented this famous liqueur, and it became extremely popular.
He used steeping herbs, aromatic plants, and orange peel together with alcohol and water.

The result is a drink with an herbal aroma with a touch of citrus and a slight medicinal note. If you ask any Italian, they’ll tell you that Campari is best served as an aperitif with soda water. And even if you’re not into drinks with intense aroma and bitter flavor, give this fashionable drink a shot.

You might be surprised by how much you’ll fancy it.

Campari - The Proud Italian

9. Grappa

What is a whiskey to Scotland, Grappa is to Italy. “Strong like Grappa’’ is something people say an awful lot in Friuli. It’s due to the high alcohol content of this drink that varies from 35% to 60%. This colorless grape spirit means a great deal to the Italians. It’s especially popular in Northern Italy.

Grappa is a drink fermented from the peels, seeds, and stems of grapes. You can find it plain or flavored with pears, apples, prunes, and with many kinds of grapes, berries, or herbs. If you want to try grappa, the Italian way is to drink it as a digestif in shots.

Grappa - The Proud Italian

10. Amaretto

Amaretto is originally a sweet liqueur of almonds, but nowadays, they make it using an almond essence. This amber-colored amaretto alcohol is one of the few Italian drinks that enjoys tremendous success overseas.

Amaretto means ‘a little bitter’ in Italian, but this drink mainly has a sweet almond flavor and only hints of bitter notes. They make it of apricot pits and burnt sugar, flavored with vanilla and spices.

Amaretto - The Proud Italian

If you want to try some, we suggest trying amaretto di Saronno, the most famous one.

And drink it after the meal, since it’s a digestif. Or maybe try some of the cocktails made from amaretto, like Godfather, Amaretto sour, Almond kiss, and Nutcracker Martini.


When it comes to alcoholic drinks in Italy, you have a lot to choose from. You have bitter drinks if you want to open your appetite before you eat. Also, you have sweet liqueurs to drink after the meal for better digestion.

And if you really like to live the Italian-style, we suggest enjoying the cocktail Godfather while watching the iconic film that they named the cocktail after.