From Whisky To Vermouth, 5 Best Liquors For Cooking

When it comes to adding an extra dimension of flavour to your dishes, nothing quite matches the versatility and depth that a carefully chosen liquor can provide. Choosing the right liquor for your cooking can transform ordinary meals into extraordinary culinary experiences. Whether you're looking to add complexity to savoury dishes or enhance the sweetness of desserts, the world of liquors offers a vast array of options. 

From brandy's fruity notes to red wine's robust flavours, from whisky's smoky undertones to rum's tropical essence, and the unique herbal profile of vermouth, each liquor brings its own personality to the table. So, explore the possibilities, experiment with different combinations, and let these best liquors to use in cooking be your secret ingredients in creating mouth-watering masterpieces that will impress your family and friends.

In this article, we will delve into the realm of culinary spirits and explore some of the best liquors to use in cooking. Whether you're a seasoned chef or an enthusiastic home cook, these liquors will add a touch of sophistication to your recipes and enhance your skills in the cooking exotic meals


Brandy, with its rich and distinct flavour profile, is an excellent choice for cooking. Its smooth, fruity notes can add depth to both sweet and savoury dishes. When used in marinades, brandy tenderises the meat and infuses it with a subtle sweetness. It also works wonders in sauces, adding complexity to classics like mushroom or peppercorn sauce. Try adding a splash of brandy to caramelised onions for a delightful twist to your French onion soup. Furthermore, brandy-based desserts such as flambéed fruits or boozy cakes can be the perfect finale to a special meal. Be sure to select a good-quality brandy for the best results.

Red Wine 

Red wine, a staple in many households, is a versatile liquor that imparts a rich and robust flavour to numerous dishes. From stews and braised meats to pasta sauces and risotto, red wine adds complexity and depth. Its tannins help tenderise the meat and complement the flavours of herbs and spices. For a classic coq au vin, a traditional French dish, red wine is an essential ingredient that infuses the chicken with a deep, savoury taste. Red wine reduction sauces can elevate a simple steak to new heights of gastronomic pleasure. Choose a full-bodied red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot to bring out the best flavours in your recipes.

Chicken liver in red wine sauce with red onions and apple wedges, with potato rosti. Image via Wikimedia Commons


Whisky, with its smoky and distinct character, is a popular choice for cooking, particularly in hearty and robust dishes. When added to marinades, whisky helps tenderise the meat while imparting a unique depth of flavour. A splash of whisky can transform a simple pan sauce into a sophisticated accompaniment for grilled meats. It can also enhance the taste of desserts, such as whisky-infused chocolate truffles or decadent bread puddings. Additionally, whisky can be incorporated into savoury dishes like whisky-glazed salmon or whisky-infused barbeque sauces. Remember to select a whisky that complements the flavours of your dish, whether it's a peaty Scotch or a smooth bourbon.


Rum, often associated with tropical cocktails, can also add a delightful twist to your culinary creations. With its sweet and slightly fruity notes, rum is a fantastic choice for desserts and savoury dishes alike. Incorporate rum into your fruit compotes, poached fruits, or flambéed bananas to enhance their natural sweetness. When used in marinades, rum can impart a subtle tropical flavour to meats, especially in dishes like jerk chicken. Rum can also elevate your baking endeavours by adding depth to cakes, cookies, and even homemade ice cream. Opt for dark or spiced rum for a more pronounced flavour, or light rum for a milder touch.

Sponge cake soaked in rum syrup, exotic fruit compote and whipped cream. Image via Wikimedia Commons


Vermouth, a fortified wine infused with botanicals and herbs, is a lesser-known but highly versatile liquor for cooking. Its aromatic and slightly bitter profile adds depth and complexity to a variety of dishes. Vermouth shines in sauces, particularly in classics like coq au vin or boeuf bourguignon; it lends a unique herbal undertone. It also works wonders in seafood dishes, such as mussels cooked in vermouth, where it complements the briny flavours. Vermouth can be used to deglaze pans, adding a rich depth of flavour to sautéed vegetables or mushrooms. Furthermore, it can be incorporated into dressings and vinaigrettes, giving them a distinct and tantalising twist. Experiment with both sweet and dry vermouth varieties to find the perfect balance for your recipes and elevate your dishes to a new level of culinary excellence.