When it comes to craft spirits, liqueurs and cordials are rarely part of the conversation. That’s because the subcategory consists of any liquor—typically under 80-proof— that’s been flavored with fruit, herbs, natural flavors, extracts, sweeteners, or even cream. Most commonly this amounts to a lot of sugar, and many are notorious for being overly sweet. But as with any style of spirit, they are not all created equal. Mozart Chocolate Liqueur is working hard to change the tune.
Indeed, the brand has been at it for over 60 years, blending high quality neutral grain spirit with real chocolate and natural raw ingredients out of its home in Salzburg, Austria. It’s an especially appropriate place in which to base such an operation. Not only is the city the birthplace of the legendary composer from which the liqueur takes its name, it’s also a destination renowned for its world class chocolate.
To craft its velvety-smooth liqueur, Mozart Distillerie sources cocoa from West Africa, vanilla from Madagascar and cream from the Netherlands, blending them with spirit into a semi-sweet liquid clocking in at 17% ABV. The flagship offering is also the best-selling: Mozart Chocolate Liqueur surrenders a bouquet not unlike chocolate lava cake, though this liquid variant is actually gluten-free.
In recent years the original expression has been joined by White Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, and Chocolate Coffee to round out the full permanent portfolio. Each can be found on US shelves for around $30 per 500ml bottle. And now the core stable has been broadened by two seasonal additions. This autumn you can look for (what else?) Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Liqueur at your local liquor store. It holds a sensible balance of cinnamon and clove against an underpinning of caramelized sugar. Come spring, you can find Strawberry White Chocolate, which introduces a fruitier element into the fray.
If you’re looking for evidence of the brand’s superior craftsmanship, the proof is in the pudding—or the judging, at the very least. Last year alone, Mozart Cream Chocolate amassed some pretty impressive medals. It won double-gold at the World Spirits Awards and notched 95 out of 100 points at the coveted International Wine & Spirits Competition.
But it’s not just Mozart Distillerie that’s enjoying contemporary success. According to the latest data from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the entire liqueur/cordial category is entering a rather auspicious era. After nearly a decade of decline, in 2021, the sector grew 12.2%, nearly collecting 22 million 9-liter cases with of sales nationwide. Volume-wise, these were its best numbers since 2002. Supplier revenues were also up—posting a 15.2% increase year-over-year.
Driving these gains are brands such as Mozart, as costumers are awakening to a reality that cordials and liqueurs can, indeed, be premium. And they also can be used to compliment other spirits in craft cocktails—or ‘Choctails’, as the case may be.