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Grand Marnier can be a mystery. If you haven’t had it, you might not know much about it. If you have had it, you remember the luxurious flavor it adds to any cocktail.
It’s simultaneously a cognac and a liqueur. It’s used to make fancy desserts and high-end cocktails, it was named by a fancy hotelier, and it has a bottle like nothing else out there.
Grand Marnier should not be a mystery to anyone. It may be unique and complex, but it’s nothing to be afraid of. It should be embraced and made a part of everyone’s liquor cabinet.
Just think of how classy you’ll sound at your next dinner party when you offer someone anything with Grand Marnier.
A Brief History of Grand Marnier
Grand Marnier was launched in 1880 by Louis Alexandre Marnier, but its history goes back to 1827.
That’s when the distillery that would produce the first Grand Marnier was founded in Neauphle-le-Château, France, by Jean Baptiste Laspostolle. It’s wild that a beverage this distinctive and forward-thinking was released over 140 years ago!
Louis Alexandre Marnier had the unconventional idea of combining cognac and orange liqueur. These two beverages are unique in their own right.
Cognac is a type of brandy from the Cognac region of France and orange liqueur is made from a special orange from the Caribbean.
Louis Alexandre Marnier originally named his signature alcohol Curaçao Marnier after the Caribbean island until another dynamic mastermind encouraged him to change it to Grand Marnier.
“A Grand Name for a Grand Liqueur!” That mastermind was César Ritz, who founded the Ritz Hotel. Grand Marnier turned out to be very grand indeed.
It gained prestige and a devout following throughout the years thanks to its uniqueness, high quality, and distinct look. The bottle, which is the same one they use today, is iconic.
It has the shape of a cognac still, a ribbon, and a wax seal. The Campari Group acquired Grand Marnier in 2016. The Campari Group is an Italian beverage company that presides over popular brands like Campari, Wild Turkey, and Skyy Vodka.
As stated above, Grand Marnier is created by blending cognac and orange liqueur. Cognac is made by harvesting grapes, making wine, distilling that wine, and then aging in oak barrels.
The liquid from the different oak barrels is then blended to make the cognac. Liqueurs are made by infusing a base spirit with fruit or botanicals.
In the case of Grand Marnier, the fruit is a small Caribbean fruit called a Laraha. It is also known as the Curaçao orange.
Grand Marnier Price, Variations & Sizes
Grand Marnier has five variations offered in a few different-sized bottles. The varieties differ by how the cognac and orange liqueur are blended as well as the quality and age of the cognac.
The price will go up as you move from a VS to a VSOP to an XO and use more of it in the blend. VS stands for Very Special, VSOP stands for Very Superior Old Pale, and XO stands for Extra Old.
VS means the youngest cognac in the blend has been aged for at least two years, VSOP means the youngest cognac in the blend has been aged for at least four years, and XO means the youngest cognac in the blend has been aged for at least six years.
|Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge||80||40%||375 ml||From $20.99|
|750 ml||From $37.99|
|1.75 L||From $81.99|
|Grand Marnier Cuvée Louis Alexandre||80||40%||750 ml||From $69.99|
|Grand Marnier Cuvée Du Centenaire (100th Anniversary)||80||40%||750 ml||From $169.99|
|Grand Marnier Cuvée 1880||80||40%||750 ml||From $329.99|
|Grand Marnier Cuvée Quintessence||80||40%||750 ml||From $799.99|
- Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge is the most popular, best-selling, and most affordable Grand Marnier. It’s the original. Cordon Rouge is a blend of 51% cognac and 49% orange liqueur.
- Grand Marnier Cuvée Louis Alexandre is a blend that is named after the founder of Grand Marnier. This version uses 82% VSOP cognac and 18% orange liqueur.
- Grand Marnier Cuvée Du Centenaire (100th Anniversary) is the first variety made with XO cognac. It was released in 1927 to recognize the 100th anniversary of the La Maison Marnier Lapostolle distillery. Cuvée Du Centenaire is a blend of 82% XO cognac and 18% orange liqueur.
- Grand Marnier Cuvée 1880 is named for Grand Marnier’s birthday. This birthday cuvée is 91% XO cognac and 9% orange liqueur.
- Grand Marnier Cuvée Quintessence is the grandest and rarest of all the Grand Marniers. Quintessence means the most perfect example or most refined version. To create this lavish blend, the Grand Marnier team dipped into their private family cellar of vintage cognacs. The result is an otherworldly cuvée of 82% rare cognac and 18% orange liqueur.
Grand Marnier Alternatives and Comparisons
There aren’t any other products out there quite like Grand Marnier. The Grand Marnier formula of blending of cognac and orange liqueur is unique.
That being said, there are options if you are looking to replace either the cognac aspect or the orange-flavored aspect of what you’re planning to imbibe. The best substitute undoubtedly would be Cointreau.
Cointreau is an orange liqueur that has a similar price point to the Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge as well as a high alcohol content of 80 Proof (40 percent alcohol by volume).
Most cocktails that call for Grand Marnier can also utilize Cointreau. Another orange-flavored option would be Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao.
Curaçao is an orange-flavored liqueur that originated on a Caribbean island called Curaçao. There are a lot of cheap Curaçao’s out there so keep your eye out for a quality one like Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao.
If you’re striking out in the orange department, it may be time to turn to brandy or cognac (brandy from the cognac region of France). Grand Marnier is part cognac after all.
Some fine options are Hennessy VS Cognac and Courvoisier VS or VSOP Cognac.
How to Drink Grand Marnier
Grand Marnier can be enjoyed in many ways. It has a specific flavor profile, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t versatile. Grand Marnier is served neat, chilled, on the rocks, or in cocktails.
Grand Marnier makes a mean Margarita, Mai-Tai, and Old Fashioned.
Since Grand Marnier is high-proof alcohol, it can be stored safely at room temperature. To extend its life and quality, it is always a good idea to keep your Grand Marnier away from light and temperature fluctuations.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is Grand Marnier gluten free?
Yes, Grand Marnier is gluten free. Commence rejoicing if you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
2. Is Grand Marnier vegan?
Grand Marnier is vegan.
3. What cocktails can I make with Grand Marnier?
The rich complex orange flavor of Grand Marnier lends itself well to many cocktails. Here are some favorites:
- 1 oz Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
- 1 oz tequila
- .5 oz lime juice
- 1 lime (for garnish)
- Combine the liquid ingredients in a shaker. Shake well, strain into a salt rimmed margarita glass, garnish with a lime wedge, and enjoy.
- 1 oz Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
- 2 oz Appleton Estate Signature Blend
- .5 oz orgeat syrup
- .5 oz fresh lemon juice
- Combine the Grand Marnier, Appleton Estate Signature Blend, orgeat syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice.
- Shake briefly, strain into a collins glass, garnish with a lime wedge, mint, and pineapple leaf, and serve.
Grand Old Fashioned
- 1 oz Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
- 1 oz Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon Whiskey
- 3 dashes of aromatic bitters
- 1 orange twist (for garnish)
- Combine aromatic bitters and Grand Marnier in an old-fashioned glass.
- Once combined, incorporate the Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon Whiskey into the mix.
- Add a large ice cube, stir until incorporated, and garnish with an orange twist.
4. What food can you make with Grand Marnier?
Grand Marnier is great for baking. One of the more famous foods made with Grand Marnier is Crêpes Suzette. This is a thin pancake served with a decadent buttery orange sauce.
It’s also quite entertaining to watch it be cooked and served. Part of the process of making the sauce involves lighting the Grand Marnier on fire as it is served. Ooh, la la!
Another food that is enhanced by Grand Marnier is the Grand Marnier Soufflé. The airy delicious soufflé may not be as dramatic as a flaming crêpe, but still visually unmistakable.
Interesting Facts & Myths
Grand Marnier was served aboard the Titanic (the ship famous for being unsinkable and then sinking in 1912). We know this as a bottle of Grand Marnier was one of the items recovered from the ship.