The use of liqueurs as a base for cocktails isn’t necessarily a new concept but few will add the boost of flavor to your favorite beverage like Grand Marnier. Recently, Spirit.Ed‘s D.L. Chandler had the honor of sitting in on a virtual class and learned the rich history and wide applications of the award-winning spirit.
I’m breaking up the usual format of Spirit.Ed to admit freely that this is my first time taking a virtual cocktail class. I’ve done several in-person classes before, but the current reality of our times didn’t allow for this to occur with this class and tasting event. However, that didn’t take away from the joy of the experience and I’m quite grateful to have the honor of joining Grand Marnier in this fashion.
Expertly led by National Brand Ambassador Xavier Herit, the class was partly a history lesson and part instructional guidance on how to appreciate Grand Marnier beyond being a cordial or digestif. Herit, a native of France now based in New York City, detailed at length the brand’s rich history dating back to 1827 when Jean Baptiste Lapostolle established the first distillery in the city of Neauphle-le-Château, just outside of Paris.
Jean Baptiste Lapostolle’s granddaughter, Julia, married in Louis-Alexandre Marnier in 1876, and in 1880, the family introduced a cognac infused with Caribbean bitter orange. As the story continues, longtime friends Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle and César Ritz, founder of the world-famous Ritz hotel are responsible for the evolution of the spirit’s original name with Ritz coining the name Grand Marnier.
Due to the trademark red ribbon around the bottle’s neck, Grand Marnier is also known as Grand Marnier Cordon Rogue, and it quickly became a staple at many Parisian events and also featured heavily at the Ritz and the iconic haven of cocktails, The Savoy Hotel.
I was unaware of the composition of Grand Marnier until the class, which is 51 percent cognac and 49 percent orange liqueur, resulting in a boozier but still tasty treat that isn’t all spirit. As one of the best-known after-dinner drinks, I have few instances in my cocktail journey that used Grand Marnier to the degree I did during the instruction.
The class consisted of two cocktails, the Grand 75, a beautiful riff on the classic French 75 using the signature Cordon Rouge, and Gilded Grand, a fruity, sippable concoction that uses the higher-end Cuvée Louis-Alexandre.
Ahead of the class, we sampled each of the bottles, with the Cordon Rogue’s pleasing finish and aromas were slightly edged out by the Cuvée Louis-Alexandre’s less sweet and full-bodied experience due to its 82 percent VSOP cognac to 18 percent orange liqueur backdrop.
If you’re a fan of the sweet and zippy French 75, the Grand 75 is just as enjoyable due to the orange essence of Grand Marnier blending in well with the citrus and bubbles.
The Gilded Grand was also enjoyable, as grapefruit juice and honey helped to soften the boldness of the Cuvée Louis-Alexandre just subtly enough.
What also made this experience all the more worthwhile was Grand Marnier making a donation on my behalf to the Opportunity Fund, which was established to help small business owners keep afloat, especially during these trying times.
The recipes for the Grand 75 and Gilded Grand cocktails can be found below.
1.5 oz Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
.75 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1 bar spoon of Simple Syrup
2 oz of Brut Champagne
GARNISH: ORANGE TWIRL
Combine Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge, simple syrup, and fresh lemon juice in a shaker tin.
Add ice and shake.
Fine strain into a chilled flute or coupe glass.
Top with dry French champagne.
Garnish with an orange twirl.
2 oz Grand Marnier Cuvée Louis-Alexandre
.75 oz grapefruit juice
.5 bar spoon honey
.5 oz lemon juice
Stir all ingredients in a rocks glass. Add ice. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and sprayed with orange flower water.
To learn more about Grand Marnier and their other offerings, please click here.
Photo: Grand Marnier