There are lots of cocktails out there which champion the Italian liqueur known as Galliano, or in long form ‘Galliano L’autentico’.
You may have had a cocktail at a bar that you really enjoyed and have looked forward to making it a home, only to find that you need this unique liqueur.
While it’s not too hard to source, and is worth buying if it’s an ingredient in a cocktail you regularly make, sometimes you just want that drink – pronto!
With this in mind, and that the liqueur might just not be available in your local area, we are going to both describe wat Galliano is so you know what it similar, as well as presenting a few substitutes you could use, with differing results, to make a cocktail that is similar to the one you enjoy, perhaps even better.
Keep reading to learn more about the Italian liqueur Galliano, as well as what you can use in place of it for a slightly altered cocktail. Find this and more below.
What Is Galliano?
Galliano, or ‘Galliano L’autentico’, is an Italian liqueur of 42.3% ABV used in a few cocktails such as the ‘Harvey Wallbanger’, ‘Golden Cadillac’ or even a ‘Galliano Old Fashioned’.
Beyond unique cocktails the drink is enjoyed as an aperitif or after dinner digestive in Italy, and other European countries, as well as being combined with other common mixers such as soda water, ginger beer, or whatever takes your fancy. In some cases Galliano is even used in alcoholic coffee cocktails.
Most cocktail bars will definitely have some Galliano on their shelves, and is commonly used where a cocktail recipe asks for a ‘vanilla liqueur’
Galliano’s flavor is hard to describe without having a sample, it is one of those spirits that has a noticeable herby and anise flavor, a bit like Sambuca.
The dominant flavors are vanilla and anise, but there is a lot going on that creates the drink’s unique and complex flavor profile sourced from 30 herbs and spices, which has lent itself to the drink’s longevity, having been introduced in around 1896.
It was a cocktail that dominated the 70s, especially in Europe, and came over with much of the Italian cuisine the US embraced during the former’s immigration.
Substitutes For Galliano
While Galliano is unique there are some other liqueurs that have a similar flavor profile, albeit producing slightly different results.
1. Pernod Pastis
Pernod is a French spirit that is referred to as pastis, it is quite similar to absinthe but much lower ABV, making it much more accessible to most audiences.
This said, it is an anise spirit like Galliano so can work well to replace it but is 40% ABV so is still a little less strong than Galliano. Yet, Pernod is definitely more of an anise heavy drink than Galliano, with the latter having a vanilla profile that the former lacks.
Pernod is an aperitif like Galliano, and can have the same effects here, but isn’t the kind of spirit you would put in coffee or something like that, not having the sweeter notes Galliano has.
If you enjoy the liquorice notes of Galliano more than the sweeter notes, then Pernod could be an interesting ingredient choice in a cocktail, but is also great on its own or with water for an aperitif.
Pernod is clear as a spirit but when you add water to it, and vice versa, it becomes a cloudy green color that is quite cool, but bear this in mind as it will turn cocktails green which can ruin the aesthetics of certain cocktails.
Strega is another Italian liqueur that is quite similar to Galliano, albeit having slightly different focuses in terms of their main flavors.
Put simply, they both are Italian herbal liqueurs, both having anise flavoring. Strega is also an aperitif and after dinner drink, but is also used in lots of cocktails as well. It’s a 40% ABV drink, so a little less strong than Galliano.
Arguably, Strega and Galliano are the two most well known herbal liqueurs from Italy. Yet, Strega does have a different taste, being more focussed on the herbal aspect, being dominated by mint, juniper, and anise, rather than sweeter notes of vanilla.
If your cocktail is mainly using the anise and herbal side of Galliano, this is a good swap, but Strega is also really suitable for a digestif or aperitif, and is used in Italy the same way as Galliano is.
3. Sambuca Bianco
Sambuca is another Italian liqueur which has become quite popular in other parts of Europe, such as the UK, but also in the US. It’s, again, very popular as an aperitif, digestif, and in the form of shots.
In Italy they do mix sambuca with coffee like Galliano, what they would call an ammazzacaffé, either adding directly to coffee in lieu of sugar or drinking it after the coffee.
As a shot Sambuca is commonly served with coffee beans in the drink, that you don’t actually consume. Usually three coffee beans represent health, happiness, and prosperity, while in Rome they serve it with seven beans, one for each hill of Rome.
While it is Italian, once more, the flavor profile of Sambuca Bianco is different and similar to Galliano. They both celebrate anise, with Sambuca being flavored with oils from star anise, as well as other spices such as elderflower.
The elderflower is actually where Sambuca gets its name from, ‘Sambucus’ being the latin word for the berry.
Sambuca can come in other flavors such as Rossa and Nero, but Bianco is the original flavor that is similar to Galliano. Sambuca is a little lighter than Galliano coming in at 38% ABV.
Raki is the national drink of Turkey, there is also a very similar drink known as Tsikooudia which is from Crete, although the two are often interchangeable.
In any case, Raki is an anise based spirit but is made from grapes. Being both anise and grape in its origins, Raki can have a certain sweetness that other liqueurs don’t, with some Raki even being made from figs, adding to this sweetness.
While bringing some sweetness it is quite earth and mellow, and is most commonly drunk on its own rather than in cocktails. It’s easy to buy in the US but isn’t something that has made its way into US culture much.
Raki isn’t traditionally used in cocktails but can work well as a substitute for Galliano. If you are just looking for an aperitif or digestif, Raki is traditionally consumed this way instead and is a good substitute for Galliano, albeit not as sweet.
Raki is generally higher in alcohol content than Galliano, at around 45% it can often be too strong for a cocktail, that said Raki is not a brand like Galliano but describes a type of alcoholic drink and as a result there will be some variation in the ABV per brand and maker.
It should be clear that while Galliano is a unique liqueur that is sweeter than most, there are some worthy substitutions out there. It can be hard to replace Galliano directly, with both its vanilla and anise flavors, but there are also loads of other European liqueurs that do highlight aspects of its flavor profile, while also missing out the others.
Many other liqueurs will have the anise flavor, but focus more the herbal side, while Galliano can be said to bring a sweet element to the anise drink.
While many of the liqueurs have similar flavors to Galliano, many of them suit the latter’s use as an aperitif or digestif more than their use in cocktails.
One way these drinks are enjoyed commonly is when they are combined with other mixers like soda water, lemonade, ginger beer, or whatever you want.
Substitutes For Galliano With Similar FlavorsCourse: Substitutes
If you enjoy Galliano but can’t get your hands on any, here are some substitutes that have a similar flavor profile, so you can sit back and relax with a drink.
- Decide on what substitute you need
- Pick a substitute from the list above
- Read what you need to substitute with
- Create the recipe and enjoy
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