Lincoln, Nebraska
3800 Old Cheney Rd
Lincoln, NE 68516
(402) 421-2474

What Are the Key Differences Between Clear & Dark Liquor? October 5, 2018

Lincoln, Lancaster
What Are the Key Differences Between Clear & Dark Liquor?, Lincoln, Nebraska

While the first difference that enters one’s mind when comparing clear and dark liquor is the color, there's much more that makes these two broad categories unique. From the way they're made to the cocktails they end up in, these spirits have an impressive and fascinating history behind them. Whether this is your first time comparing the two or you're a seasoned connoisseur, here are a few key differentiators to consider next time you're ordering a drink at your local bar.

What Makes Clear & Dark Spirits Unique

What Liquor Falls Into Each Category?

liquorThankfully, telling clear and dark spirits apart from one another is the easy part. Some of the most common clear liquors are vodka, gin, tequila, sake, and certain varieties of rum. As for the darks, you'll find plenty to choose from, including brandy, bourbon, and whiskey spirits that range from straight or blended whiskey to Canadian whiskey, Irish whiskey, and Scotch whiskey.

The mixed drinks you find at your go-to cocktail lounge will vary depending on the type of spirit at the heart of them. A few examples of popular cocktails that use clear spirits are gin and tonic, vodka and soda water, mojito (white rum), screwdriver (orange juice and vodka), and the martini, which can be made with vodka or the classic staple of gin.   

Where Does the Color Come From?

Despite the fact that dark spirits vary from golden amber to dark brown in hue, they all start out clear in the beginning. While some distilleries add in coloring agents like burnt sugar, most of the coloring comes from the aging process. Whiskey is brown thanks to the fact that it comes in contact with barrels. As it ages in the barrels, the alcohol within leaches pigment compounds and flavor from the wood. You'll notice some types of whiskey and bourbon are darker than others, which typically means they've spent more time aging within the barrel.

As for the differences between bourbon and other types of whiskey, that's a different story entirely. Discovering all the factors that make clear and dark spirits stand out along the crowded back wall of a bar is half the fun, so try something new when happy hour hits.


The only thing better than enjoying a refreshing spirit is having a relaxing and familiar place to do so. You'll find all that and more at Lancaster's Lounge & Off-Sale in Lincoln, NE, a family-owned and -operated restaurant and bar with a wide variety of liquors at an affordable price. They've been providing a friendly atmosphere to locals and visitors alike since 1989, and they offer wine, liquor, and beer specials on a weekly basis. Contact them online if you have any questions, call them at (402) 421-2474, or just stop by today for a one-of-a-kind bar experience.

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