Entry by Neil Brotherston
Grand Marnier – one of the key ingredients to so many of life’s guilty pleasures. Whether you’re lounging in the lap of luxury in your favourite cocktail bar sipping on a Grand Cosmopolitan, dancing the night away with B-52 shots in your favourite club or tucking into a crepe suzette half way up the alps, these things all have one crucial thing in common. Grand Marnier is the star of the show.
But what exactly is Grand Marnier and what makes it so unique? Grand Marnier came to be in 1880, when Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle, a lover of fine Cognac, had the brainwave to combine his love for Cognac, with his love for citrus.
High quality cognac was blended with the rare and very prestigious Caribbean breed of Orange – ‘Citrus Bigaradia’. And thus a star was born.
Grand Marnier itself is made through a long and at times complicated process. Every year the finest eaux-de-vie (fruit brandy) is chosen and goes through two distinct distillations utilizing traditional copper pot stills. The resulting liquid is then kept in Oak barrels in order to age.
The rare oranges needed to make this drink are picked by hand from Marnier plantation in Caribbean. They are then cut into quarters, the pulp is taken out and the orange peels are hung out to dry.
Once the peels have sufficiently dried out, they are broken down using a neutral alcohol. This then goes through a distillation process, which results in a concentrated ‘Citrus Bigaradia’ essence. This essence and the cognac are then blended together according a secret family recipe to produce the resulting Grand Marnier which is then left to age in another set of oak barrels.
But most importantly, what does it taste like? Well when you bring it towards your mouth you immediately hit by a complex nose of orange flowers combined with scents of candied zests and toffee. When you finally come to take a sip you are hit with Bitter orange flavours that are enhanced by the cognac with nuances of orange marmalade and hazelnuts. It does produce a bit of a burn at first, but after this it becomes a smooth and refreshing delight.
But if you don’t want to drink it straight, then what else can you do with it? Well apart from aforementioned popular uses for Grand Marnier, the head bartenders at the Blind Pig have created a bespoke new Grand Marnier cocktail, launching this month and available exclusively at The Blind Pig and Social Eating House in Soho, London. The new cocktail takes its inspiration from a traditional juice carton, adopting an innovative and quirky approach to cocktail serving.
The freshly made cocktail is served in a custom made traditional juice carton and since it’s launch in May 2014 has swiftly become a firm favourite on their menu.
The Dapper Chapper cocktail recipe:
_30ml Grand Marnier
_20 ml Cognac
_20 ml Nardini Bitters
_10 ml Yuzo Cordial
_20 ml Lime Juice
_100ml Grapefruit and Kumquat Soda
So if you fancy a rather unique cocktail experience, get yourself down to The Blind Pig at the Social Eating House in Soho, London to see your very own Juice Carton being made up. It will set you Dapper Chappers back £9.50.
Available to buy at Alexander and James