What Is Galliano L'Autentico Liqueur?

Production, Substitutions, and Recipes

Galliano L'Autentico Herbal Liqueur

Lucas Bols

Galliano L'Autentico is a popular Italian liqueur with a golden yellow color. The unique herbal flavor medley is dominated by vanilla and anise, though its taste is complex. Developed in the late 19th century, Galliano is used in a variety of cocktails and is a staple in well-rounded bars today. Its most famous cocktails are the Harvey Wallbanger and golden Cadillac from the 1970s. While it's great for those retro drinks and many others, it also makes a nice digestif to enjoy after a meal.

Galliano vs. Strega

Galliano and Strega are two of Italy's best-known herbal liqueurs. At first glance, they look similar because each is a brilliant yellow color. Tastewise, the two are very different. Where Galliano is focused on vanilla and anise, Strega's flavor is dominated by mint, juniper, and anise. For the right cocktail, the two could be used as substitutes for one another.

Substitutions

There are a number of possible substitutes for Galliano, though nothing is an exact match. Which you choose will depend on the cocktail and the direction you want to take it. For herbal liqueurs, Licor 43, Yellow Chartreuse, and Strega will be the best options. Licor 43 has a dominant vanilla flavor as well and all three have hints of anise. For drinks that won't be overwhelmed by anise (the taste of black licorice), liqueurs like anisette, pastis, ouzo, and sambuca are good options; absinthe may be too strong.

Galliano is also one of the better choices for cocktails that call for a vanilla liqueur. If your drink won't miss the herbal aspect or you simply want to eliminate that profile, a premium-quality vanilla liqueur would be a good substitute for Galliano.

Fast Facts

  • Ingredients: 30 herbs and spices
  • Proof: 84.6
  • ABV: 42.3%
  • Calories in a shot: 100
  • Origin: Italy
  • Taste: Sweet, vanilla, anise, herbal
  • Serve: Straight, on the rocks, with soda, cocktails, shots

What Is Galliano Made From?

Galliano L'Autentico has been produced since 1896 in Livorno, Italy. It was created by Arturo Vaccari at his newly formed distillery. The name honors Maggiore Giuseppe Galliano, an Italian war hero who gave his life in the first Italo-Abyssinian War (1895–1896). Though Vaccari created the recipe to be "a flavour all of its own," it is said that he based it on a homemade liqueur carried into battle by Galliano.

In 1989, the recipe for Galliano was changed after the brand was purchased by Remy Cointreau and it was rebranded as "Galliano Vanilla Liqueur." The brand was purchased by Lucas Bols (the current owner) in 2006 and the recipe changed again. The current formulation is billed as the "original" recipe and the label changed to Galliano L'Autentico ("The Original").

Galliano is one of the many herbal liqueurs which have a proprietary and secret recipe. It uses a blend of around 30 Mediterranean herbs and spices including anise, cinnamon, juniper, lavender, musk yarrow, peppermint, star anise, and vanilla. The rest is kept a secret, as is most of the production, though it's said to involve seven infusions and six distillations. The liqueur is bottled at 42.3 percent alcohol by volume (ABV, 84.6 proof).

The height of the Galliano bottle makes it stand out as much as the striking color. It is a towering 18 inches tall, a skyscraper compared to almost every other bottle of liquor on the shelf. For this reason, you will often see that elegant bottle of Galliano standing on the sidelines in the only place of the back bar where it will fit.

What Does Galliano Taste Like?

Galliano L'Autentico is sweet and has an herbal bouquet accented with vanilla and anise. It is delicious in both its aromatic complexity and its mellowness.

Flavors

Galliano is not a one-bottle brand, though L'Autentico is almost always simply referred to as Galliano. They produce a few other flavored liqueurs in traditional Italian style:

  • Vanilla: Galliano still produces Galliano Vanilla Liqueur. It has a more pronounced vanilla flavor that is delicately backed up by 30 herbs and spices, making it similar to L'Autentico. This liqueur is 60 proof.
  • Amaretto: The popular almond-flavored liqueur is an Italian creation and Galliano's version offers a premium upgrade to the majority of amarettos on the market. It's not as widely available as other Galliano offerings and is bottled at 56 proof.
  • Ristretto: Italy is the home of espresso and this liqueur captures that taste wonderfully. The 60-proof liqueur is rich and has a bold, concentrated coffee flavor.
  • L'Aperitivo: Italians are also famous for creating great amaros and if you enjoy bitter aperitivos, this is one to try. Citrus fruits are the focus and it can be used in any Campari cocktail. It is bottled at 48 proof.

How to Drink Galliano

Galliano is a digestivo (the Italian word for the French digestif) and can be enjoyed straight after dinner to aid digestion. It's also popularly served over ice and topped with seltzer and clear sodas. One of its more surprising pairings is root beer.

Galliano really shines in cocktails and is both an elegant liqueur and a fun party favor. It was more popular in the '70s than it has been in the decades since, but renewed interest in those retro drinks has brought it new attention. You'll find it in rum, tequila, vodka, and whiskey drinks and it pairs well with almost any flavor found in drinks, from fruits to coffee. There are a few shot recipes that call for it, too. Galliano can work in many "vanilla liqueur" drink recipes as well. Though it will add extra elements of flavor beyond vanilla, the switch can create some very striking cocktails.

Cocktail Recipes

Galliano is a fantastic accent flavor for cocktails. It's often used for its trademark gold color (found in cocktails with "gold" and "yellow" in the name) as much as its flavor. Creamy and tiki cocktails are common and its density makes it an ideal float on top of finished drinks.