Spirits & Liqueurs Liqueur

6 French Spirits You Need for Your Home Bar

Say “oui” to these delicious elixirs from France.

a collage of French spirits bottles on a distressed light-blue background
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Liquor.com / Laura Sant

France and the United States have a special relationship. The French have been our allies for nearly 250 years, they lent a hand during America’s fight for independence and even sent us a lovely gift of a big copper statue named Liberty. They also ship delicious spirits and aperitifs our way, bottles you should definitely be stocking at home.

Whether you’re a full-fledged Francophile who plays pétanque, collects Degas prints and always has a wheel of Camembert in the fridge or you’re new to all things françaises, consider one of these six distinguished French spirits for your home bar.

1. Chartreuse ($60)

Chartreuse bottles
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Made by Carthusian monks in the mountains outside of Grenoble for almost 300 years, Chartreuse’s strong, heady flavor is the result of a secret blend of 130 herbs and botanicals. Whether you pick Green (110 proof) or Yellow (80 proof), the elixir can be sipped with a single ice cube, a splash of water or in delicious cocktails like the Last Word.

2. Dubonnet Rouge ($15)

Dubonnet bottles
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This slightly sweet aperitif, invented for the French Foreign Legion, is a refreshing afternoon beverage served neat or over ice. Or feature it instead of sweet vermouth in a lighter take on a Manhattan. Flavored with herbs and spices, the aromatized wine also includes quinine, which was originally used to combat malaria.

3. Pineau des Charentes (Pierre Ferrand, $30)

Pineau des Charentes bottles
Liquor.com / Laura Sant 

Popular in western France, this fortified wine is one of the most delightful pre-dinner beverages around. It’s a combination of grape must and eau-de-vie (unaged brandy) left over from making cognac. Look for Pierre Ferrand’s tasty bottling. It’s best enjoyed slightly chilled.

4. Lillet Blanc ($23)

The quintessential aperitif wine, Lillet is made in a small village south of Bordeaux using wine and macerated sweet and bitter orange and quinine. It comes in Blanc, Rouge and Rosé. The Blanc is a delightfully honeyed, citrusy substitute for dry vermouth in a Martini. Of course, you can always just have it on the rocks.

5. Pernod ($40) & Ricard ($38)

Pernod and Ricard pastis bottles
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These are two of the classic anise liqueurs created after France’s 1915 ban on absinthe. The timeless long drink is still the best way to consume them: Pour a generous shot into a tall glass and fill three-quarters of the way with cold water. Finish with a couple sturdy ice cubes and sip slowly while you watch the sunset.

6. St. Germain ($37)

Unlike many well-known French products, this one doesn’t have a centuries-long history: It was first released in 2007. Up to 1,000 elderflower blossoms go into a bottle, and each bottle is numbered for the year the flowers were picked. Bartenders have come up with countless ways to use the liqueur in cocktails. A St-Germain Cocktail is one of the simplest.