The Best Liquors To Amp Up Your Cheesecake

Cheesecake is downright delicious, but have you ever thought about adding some alcohol into the mix? Boozy cheesecake?! We'll cheers to that. The next time you are craving, just open up your liquor cabinet for inspiration. So many of your favorite cocktails and standalone spirits can be translated into cheesecake flavors. Why have just a gin and tonic when you could have a gin and tonic cheesecake? Why not pair a slice of G&T cheesecake with an actual G&T? The possibilities are endless.

Typically, you will add the liquor into the cream cheese filling – though you can also incorporate alcohol in syrups, preserves, caramels, gels, or spiked whipped cream that can go on top of the finished dessert. Because this dish tends to be quite sweet and rich, the acid and sharpness of the alcohol cut through some of that heaviness. It helps to prevent the flavor profile from being cloyingly sweet and allows you to incorporate bold flavors without adding too much liquid. Never mind if cheesecake is a pie, a cake, or a secret third thing — it is creamy, luscious, and ready for an adult glow-up.


Whiskey — for its caramel, vanilla, and warm spice notes — is a natural choice. There are many different styles of whiskey (and whisky) with a wide variety of flavors, ranging from fruity to deeply smoky. Bourbon, in particular, is on the sweeter end of the spectrum when compared with its counterparts, which makes it one of the best choices when it comes to desserts. Scotch whisky can be very spicy and bold on account of peat smoking, so not all will be suitable for cheesecakes. Rye whiskey can also be quite peppery. However, a very lightly peated Scotch or a rye that moves into baking spice territory could pair really nicely with more strong and bitter flavors, like dark chocolate or blood orange zest.

Cheesecakes with ingredients like roasted nuts, maple, chocolate, caramel, orange, vanilla, brown sugar, or cinnamon all pair well with whiskey. The barrel aging that gives whiskey its signature brown color also conveys a lovely honeyed hue to the cream cheese filling, and a drizzle of whiskey caramel just might be the perfect finish.

Another way to incorporate whiskey into cheesecake is with cream liqueurs like Baileys Irish Cream — it combines Irish whiskey, cream, and cocoa. This brand of liqueurs has a whole bunch of cheesecake-ready flavors, such as salted caramel, red velvet, vanilla-cinnamon, chocolate cherry, and S'mores.


The agave-based spirit is not just for rounds of shots with salt and lime wedges. It makes a fabulous base for a number of cocktails — tequila pairs especially well with zingy, citrusy, and dry flavors — and there are lots of top-shelf products that are much better saved for sipping and savoring rather than shooting. Tequila is much crisper-tasting than the different types of mezcal, and the younger it is, the lighter the flavor. It is vibrant, slightly sweet, and lacks any smokiness.

When pairing tequila with cheesecake ingredients, opt for tequila blanco (also known as silver or plata) or tequila joven (aka oro or gold) when you are using bright and citrusy ingredients, such as limes, lemons, grapefruits, ginger, or hibiscus. Use tequila, triple sec, and lime juice in the base, and finish it with sweet and slightly salty whipped cream for a margarita cheesecake. Or, take inspiration from a Paloma cocktail, and use tequila in a grapefruit and lime cheesecake.

Reposado, añejo, and muy añejo tequilas are aged on oak and sometimes even use barrels that had previously been used to age bourbon. This processing imparts more vanilla and caramel notes and makes them a great addition to a cheesecake with something like roasted peaches, grilled pineapple, juicy mango, or white chocolate.


Rum is made by fermenting sugarcane juice or molasses and makes for a complementary pairing with sweet cheesecake. It can definitely have a strongly alcoholic taste, so all types of rum stand up well to rich flavors, offering balance in the face of cheesecakey sweetness. Similar to other spirits, rum can be found in light (also called white or clear), gold, dark, and black varieties. Spiced rum is also quite popular and would be a good choice for your dessert.

Light rum lends itself to fruity flavor pairings — think strawberry, raspberry, citrus, tropical fruits, and fresh herbs. Make a mojito cheesecake with white rum, lime, and fresh mint, or use it to create a boozy coconut number. Dark rum would complete a bananas foster cheesecake, or it could take your dessert in a hurricane cocktail direction alongside orange juice, passion fruit, and lime. Pair spiced rum with ingredients like pecans, walnuts, salted caramel, orange zest, or caramelized apples for an amazing post-meal bite.

Coffee liqueur

Coffee and cheesecake are a match made in heaven, and coffee liqueur is a great way to impart roasty, toasty, comforting coffee notes, pleasant sweetness, and boozy balance. Coffee pairs well with a wide variety of nutty, caramelized, and aromatic flavors, so you can use coffee liqueur to enhance tons of different ingredients. Add it to hazelnut, caramel, coconut, pistachio, or vanilla cheesecakes. Try it in a chocolate peppermint version for a Christmas mocha vibe, or take a pumpkin spice latte to new heights by adding coffee liqueur to a pumpkin cheesecake.

Kahlúa is a very popular rum-based coffee liqueur that could pair excellently with a chocolate base and Oreo cookie crust. It also makes up the foundation of some go-to creamy cocktails that translate really well when incorporated into cheesecake flavors. Pair Kahlúa with a bit of vodka in a plain cream cheese base for a White Russian cheesecake, or add some instant espresso powder to the filling plus some vodka and Kahlúa for an espresso martini cheesecake. The company also has vanilla, salted caramel, mint mocha, and blonde roast varieties that would be fun to play around with.

Fruit liqueurs

Fruit can help to cut through the creamy richness of cheesecake, and fruit liqueurs — though typically very sweet — can add depth and intrigue. Because the flavors are concentrated, it has a similar effect to combining fresh fruit with preserves of the same flavor. It reinforces fresh or cooked fruit flavors and provides a sophisticated dimension.

Consider adding limoncello to a lemon cheesecake. This Italian liqueur is made by infusing neutral grain alcohol with lemon zest and then sweetening the result. The flavor is boldly citrusy, but not at all tart, so it can help to anchor the zingy acidity of fresh lemons in a cheesecake batter.

For a different flavor profile, mound a bunch of fresh cherries soaked in cherry liqueur on top of a chocolate cake to make a black forest cheesecake. Crème de cassis — a blackcurrant liqueur from France — is another ideal cheesecake pairing, especially if you are a fan of a Kir Royale cocktail. Flavor a blackberry or raspberry cream cheese base with crème de cassis. Then, drizzle with Champagne syrup, and garnish with some Champagne-soaked berries for a cheesecake worthy of a New Year's toast!