Don is the editor of Thirst magazine.

Liqueurs are the sort of thing that tend to hang about in the back of the cupboard forever.

Anyone who has a drinks cabinet also has a bottle or two of odd, brightly coloured sticky things that seemed like a good idea at the time and that now lie forgotten and forlorn, somewhere behind the Baileys.

But change would appear to be on the horizon with a selection of really good quality fruit liqueurs on the market these days.

All liqueurs share a common ancestry as medicinal drinks, usually a blend of herbs, spices, fruits or roots, sweetened with sugar to help it go down. Eventually the fruit-based ones seemed to evolve into incredibly cloying, tooth-rotting concoctions in eye-watering colours.

Luckily, the versions available now are infinitely better, offering a purer fruit expression, more balance between alcohol, sweetness and acidity and genuine flavour, rather than the sort of flavouring usually associated with ice blocks.

And they are useful. A slurp of cassis in a glass of bubbly adds some character and colour, while mixing with soda or tonic offers a refreshing drink with some of the overt sweetness cut back.

Cocktail parties are also a good idea, but it's good to remember that mixing together three spirits and a couple of liqueurs is usually a recipe for regret, recriminations and occasionally a remand in custody, and none of us want that. Stick to the classics and you'll be fine.

700ml bottle RRP$54.99, 500ml bottle RRP$42.99, 200ml bottle RRP$21.99. Available at Glengarry and all good liquor stores.
This supercharged black raspberry liqueur is packed with elegant, natural raspberry aromas and flavours balanced by a natural fruit sharpness. An elegant, sexy liqueur, seductive in its smoothness and sheer class.

Boudier Creme de Mures Sauvages, RRP $49.99
Spectacularly good blackberry liqueur that leaps out of the glass at you. Heady fruit aromas, redolent of home-made jam, but the sweetness is reined in by the bite of the fruit acid. Brilliant in bubbly or simply with soda for a long drink.