Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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ratafia a word whose three meanings are explained below. Its origin is obscure. According to Favre (1883–92), the word is derived from the Latin phrase Res rata fiat, which was pronounced when a treaty or other such instrument was ratified. Since the custom was to accompany the ratification by drinking a good liqueur, the phrase, abbreviated, became a name for such a liqueur. If this is the origin of the name, it would explain why there is doubt about whether the name applies to all liqueurs or only some and, if only some, which. (It is usually understood to apply to liqueurs made from brandy and any fruit juice, especially those made by a process of maceration; but some authorities regard a flavouring of bitter almonds as necessary.)