Alcohol is an organic compound with a hydroxyl functional group (-OH). There are an abundance of alcohols each named based on the amount of carbon atoms in the molecular structure, but the alcohol important for beverages is ethanol (C2H5OH).
There are many types of alcoholic beverages available. Each of these differs based on the flavoring compounds, the amount of distillation, the substance that is fermented, and its alcohol content. Unsweetened, distilled, alcoholic beverages that contain a minimum of 20% alcohol by volume (ABV) are known as spirits. Hard liquor refers to alcohols that have not been distilled. The ABV percentage tells the amount of alcohol present in the beverage. In the US, the proof of the beverage is two times the ABV.
Alcohol has a variety of culinary uses. It is used as a flavoring component in meats and desserts, it acts as an acid to denature proteins, it can be used to lower the freezing point in ice creams, and it can be used along with other liquids and flavoring components in drinks.