BarChick took a trip to Cognac and got down and geeky with a very French orange liqueur... Here’s what we learnt:
The history of Grand Marnier is just as noble as you'd expect; back in 1880 there was a guy called Louis-Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle who came up with the genius idea of blending oak barrel aged cognacs with a bitter citrus orange.
Fast forward 130 years and in all the best bars in Europe you’ll find Grand Marnier on the back shelf and in many a damn fine cocktail too.
The ingredients of Grand Marnier are simple and the key to its delicious flavour is the quality of ingredients used; cognac, orange peel, sugar and water.
The cognac: Chateau de Bourg is in the Cognac region of France and it was bought by the family in 1921, the place even has a moat surrounding it – the dream and also suitably supreme for such a “grand” brand. The Marnier Lapostolle family are the world’s 5th largest buyer of cognac. They buy cognacs from just under 250 suppliers and age them at the chateaux.
The orange peel: Citrus Bigaradia is the orange of choice, its delicate perfume and high level of natural oils make it ideal for the cognac. It comes all the way from the Caribbean and is picked when it’s still green so that the essential oils are maintained.
Sugar: This is combined with the cognac and tropical orange essence before being aged in oak vats and for a minimum of 6 months. After the maturation the liquid is heated to a really high temperature before being taken down to below zero – this enables it to be consistent whether it’s taken to a super-hot or cold climate… whatever the weather Grand Marnier stays the same.
The last stage is when it goes all the way up to Normandy to be bottled and labelled.
Bam. You have your Grand Marnier bottled and ready to enjoy.
5 reasons you should try Grand Marnier
A bottle of Grand Marnier is sold every 3 seconds around the world. Fact. Join the party.
Everyone likes a family thing and the company is still owned and run by the original Marnier-Lapostolle family.
Grand Mariner goes amazingly with crepes. Crepe Suzette style… nothing beats a boozy snack.
The Blind Pig at the Social Eating House in Soho does a mean Grand Marnier cocktail called The Last Tango in Paris, it comes in an orange juice carton… juice diet here we come.
It will ease you into the world of cognac if you’re not there yet. Just a touch sweeter, it’s a beginner’s entry into the world of fine drinking.
1 bottle you should buy
Just in time for Christmas, Grand Marnier have released a limited edition bottle for your cognac loving mate/gran/neighbour. A white, red and blue ribbon runs around the bottle, inspired by the Breton top worn by sailors and loved by Coco Chanel - tres Francais! And at £26 it’s the ideal gift.
2 cocktails you should make
Grand Marnier is easier to slip into your homemade cocktail sesh than you might think. Check out these recipes below (1 easy, 1 hard).
30 ml Grand Marnier, 40ml of tequila and 20ml fresh lime.
You either like your glass salt rimmed or you don’t, so the best thing to do is to lightly salt half the glass. Get a slice of lemon and rub it around half the rim and dip it on a plate of salt. Then fill a shaker with ice, pour in all the ingredients and shake well. Strain the liquid into the glass and voila! You have yourself a Margarita, baby.
Think you’re some kinda bartender? Then go for this one:
The French Artist
30ml Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge, 15ml VSOP Cognac, 15ml French Dry Vermouth, 20ml freshly squeezed lemon juice, 20ml Grenadine syrup, 20ml egg white and garnish with redcurrants coated with icing sugar.
Get your shaker and pour in all the ingredients, first shake without ice and then add some cubed ice and shake hard. Finally strain it twice into a coupette glass and top it off with a garnish.