Alcohol

Alcohol
absinthe, absynthe
absinthe
This potent anise-flavored liqueur contains the narcotic herb wormwood, so it isn't available in most developed countries. If you wish to live dangerously, you might be able to find it in Spain.
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advocaat, Bols, Warninks
advocaat
This is a very thick liqueur made from brandy and egg yolks. It's normally eaten with a spoon or added to coffee or hot chocolate. Warninks and Bols are highly regarded brands
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ale, pale ale, porter, stout
ale
There are two types of beer: lager, which is pale, light, and effervescent, and ale, which is heavier and more bitter. Types of ale include pale ale, porter, and stout.
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almond liqueur
almond liqueur
Almond liqueur is excellent on ice cream or in coffee.
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amaretto
amaretto
This is a brandy-based liqueur that's flavored with almonds and apricot pits. It complements chocolate, coffee, and fruit especially well.
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amber rum, añejo rum, brown rum, gold rum
amber rum
This is similar to white rum, but has a stronger flavor. Most of it is made in Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Barbados, and the Virgin Islands. Bacardi, Ronrico, and DonQ are popular brands.
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Amer Picon
This is a bitter French apéritif that's usually served with water and a sweetener, or sometimes mixed with beer.
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anesone
This is a name sometimes given to drier anise-flavored liqueurs, like pastis, ouzo, and arak.
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Angostura® bitters, aromatic bitters, Angostura aromatic bitters
Angostura® bitters
This famous rum-based brand of bitters was first developed in the 1800s by Simon Bolivar's personal physician. It's 45% alcohol, and comes in small brown bottles with yellow caps. It's now produced in Trinidad.
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anise
This is a name sometimes given to drier anise-flavored liqueurs, like pastis, ouzo, and arak.
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anisette
anisette
This French liqueur is flavored with anise seeds. It's sweeter and lower in alcohol than other anise-flavored liqueurs. Marie Brizard is a well-respected brand.
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apéritif, aperitif, apertivo
apéritif
Apéritifs are alcoholic drinks that, like appetizers, are served before dinner to perk up the appetite and wake up the taste buds. Examples include fortified wines, herbal and bitter liqueurs, and sparkling wines. Europeans often prefer these over cocktails.
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apple brandy, apple jack, applejack, calva, Calvados, cider brandy
apple brandy
This exquisite brandy has a soft apple fragrance. Calvados = calva (cal-VAH-dohs) is the French version, applejack = apple jack is the inferior American version. Calvados is ranked much like cognac. The very best Calvados are labeled Napoleon, Extra Old (XO), Extra, or Hors D'Age. After that comes VSOP, Vieille Reserve, or VO. Next come Vieux or Reserve Calvados, then those with three stars or three apples on their labels.
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apricot brandy
This is distilled from apricot juice. Brands include the French Abricotine, and the Hungarian Barack Pálinka.
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apricot liqueur
This liqueur tastes like both apricots and almonds.
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aquavit, akevit, akvavit, snaps
aquavit
This is made by Scandinavians, who distill it from potatoes or grains and flavor it with caraway seeds or other spices. They like to drink it chilled and straight, in small, narrow glasses. Don't confuse it with aqua vitae, or fruit brandy.
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arak, arack, arrack, arraki, raki
arak
The name comes from the Arabic word for juice, and it's applied to a wide variety of somewhat harsh-tasting alcoholic beverages that are flavored with various herbs and spices, particularly anise. It's fairly potent, and usually served as an apéritif.
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Armagnac
Armagnac
This French brandy is similar to cognac, but with a more pronounced flavor. Since their quality varies, Armagnac brandies don't share cognac's exalted reputation, but a good Armagnac compares favorably with any cognac.
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aromatized wine
These are wines, like vermouth and retsina, that have been flavored, usually with herbs and spices.
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B&B, B & B, B and B
B&B
Bénédictine liqueur is a tad too sweet for many people, so it's common to cut it with brandy. Noting this, the producers of Bénédictine decided to produce their own blend.
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Banyuls
This is a red dessert wine that's produced in France. It's one of the few wines that's good with chocolate.
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Barbera
Barbera
This is a hearty red wine that's usually blended into jug wines, but sometimes sold as an inexpensive varietal wine
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Batavia arak
This is an aromatic rum that's produced in Java.
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Bauchant
Bauchant
This is an orange liqueur.
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Beaujolais
Beaujolais
This is a region in Eastern France that produces light, fruity, fresh-tasting red wines that are relatively low in alcohol. Beaujolais wines should be drunk while young.
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beer
beer
Most beers are brewed from malted barley and flavored with hops, which makes them slightly bitter. Beer is good with salty and spicy foods, like pretzels, pizza, and hot dogs, but it can also be used as a cooking ingredient, adding a pleasant bitterness to chili, stews, and soups, and softening the texture of baked goods. If a recipe calls simply for beer, use a lager beer; a strong ale can easily overpower a dish. De-alcoholized beers are also available.
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Bénédictine, Benedictine, Bénédictine D.O.M.
Bénédictine
This light green liqueur was first produced in the 16th century by a French monk, who combined various herbs, spices, and peels with brandy. It's somewhat sweet by itself, so many people cut it with brandy or buy B&B, which is premixed Bénédictine and brandy. The letters D.O.M. stand for Deo Optimo Maximo (To God, the best and greatest), which is the Bénédictine motto
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berry wine
berry wine
These wines are made from berries, including blackberries, loganberries, cranberries, elderberries, strawberries, raspberries, kiwi fruit, boysenberries, and currants. They tend to be very sweet, and some are fortified to raise the alcohol level. They're usually served chilled as a beverage, or poured on ice cream or fruit as a dessert.
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bitter liqueurs, bitter spirits, bitters
bitter liqueurs
These are liqueurs and fortified wines that have a bittersweet flavor. They're often mixed with soda and served as apéritifs. These liqueurs are sometimes called bitters, but they're not as intensely flavored as the bitters that come in little bottles, which are normally measured out in drops. Popular brands include Campari, Fernet Branca, Byrrh, Dubonnet, Punt è Mes, Cynar, Suze, Jägermeister, and Amer Picon.
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black muscat wine
black muscat wine
This is a late harvest dessert wine made with black muscat grapes and sometimes fortified with brandy. Unlike many dessert wines, it goes well with chocolate.
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blackberry liqueur, Kroatzbeere, Marie Brizard
blackberry liqueur
Kroatzbeere and Marie Brizard are well-regarded brands.
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blended whiskey
Blended whiskies are mixtures of different kinds of straight whiskies and neutral spirits. After they're blended, they're allowed to age together for awhile so that the flavors can marry. Whiskey should be served at room temperature.
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blush Wine, pink wine, rose wine, rosé wine
blush Wine
"Blush" is displacing "rosé" as the name given to pink wines, though some people use the name rosé to describe darker pink wines. Whatever name you give them, they're usually made from red grapes that are only allowed to ferment a few days--too short a time for the grape skins to impart a deeper color to the wine. The result is a pink, fruity wine that's best served chilled and goes best with poultry, seafood, and spicy dishes. These wines are quite popular, but wine snobs think they're boring. Don't cook with these wines--they aren't flavorful enough.
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bock beer, bockbier
bock beer
This is a sweet, strong-tasting lager beer that's heavy on the malt and light on the hops. It's not as bitter as most beers.
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Bordeaux wine (red), claret
Bordeaux wine (red)
The Bordeaux region in France produces excellent red wines, especially in the districts of Médoc, Haut-Médoc, and St. Emilion. These wines are rich and complex, and usually made with a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot grapes. Bordeaux wines with the generic label "Bordeaux Wine" usually aren't as good as those with more specific appellations, like "St. Emilion Wine." Red Bordeaux wines go especially well with lamb and poultry.
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Bordeaux wine (white)
Bordeaux wine (white)
The Bordeaux region in France is renown for its red wines, but it also produces excellent white wines, made with Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon grapes.
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Bourbon whiskey
Bourbon whiskey
Though milder than Scotch, Bourbon is well regarded by whiskey connoisseurs. To be called Bourbon, whiskey must be produced in Kentucky and be made mostly with corn. Jim Beam is a popular brand, but more serious Bourbon lovers seek out Maker's Mark. Whiskey should be served at room temperature.
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brandy
brandy
Brandy is often served as an after-dinner drink, or added to coffee. According to legend, it was first produced when an enterprising sea captain distilled wine in order to save space on his ship. He planned to reconstitute it with water when he arrived at his home port, but those who sampled the new concoction liked it just the way it was. Today, most brandy is distilled from white wine, though red wine and other fermented fruit juices are also used. It's then aged in oak barrels for several years. To learn about different varieties of brandy, click here.
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brown ale
brown ale
This is a style of beer that's sweeter, darker, and less bitter than the typical American lager beer.
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Burgundy wine (red)
Burgundy wine (red)
Burgundy is a region in eastern France that produces excellent red wines, but the Burgundy wines produced in the United States are usually inexpensive jug wines made from different grape varieties.
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Burgundy wine (white)
Burgundy wine (white)
Burgundy is a region in eastern France that produces excellent red and white wines. Some of the better wine-producing areas in Burgundy are Chablis and Pouilly-Fuissé, both of which produce exquisite white wines from Chardonnay grapes. Burgundy wines produced in the United States are usually inexpensive blends of different grape varieties.
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Byrrh
This is a tangy and bittersweet French vermouth that's made with quinine and red wine. It's usually mixed with club soda.
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Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc grapes are related to Cabernet Sauvignon, but they make for a lighter, fruitier wine. The wine is often blended with others, but sometimes sold as a varietal wine.
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Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab
Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon grapes make a hearty, complex red wine that's especially good with roasted meats and heavy stews. Domestic Cabernets are often excellent.
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cachaça, burning water, cachaca, pinga
cachaça
This sugarcane brandy is made in Brazil, where the name means "burning water." Velho Barreto is a well-regarded brand.
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Campari, Campari bitters
Campari
This popular Italian bitters is often mixed with soda, ice, and a twist of lemon and served as an apéritif.
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Canadian whisky
Canadian whisky
These blended whiskies have a lighter body than those made in the United States. Crown Royal and Canadian Club are popular brands. Canadians follow the British convention of spelling whisky without an "e." Whiskey should be served at room temperature.
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Chablis
Chablis
If made in France, this is a very dry, delicately flavored white wine that's made with Chardonnay grapes. It's great with seafood, especially oysters. If made domestically, like a California Chablis, it's a sweet and cheap jug wine.
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