This rich, amber-colored liqueur is flavored with the peels of bitter Haitian oranges, exotic spices and vanilla. Unlike other orange liqueurs (Curacao, Triple Sec), Grand Marnier is blended with a variety of fine cognacs and aged in oak barrels for an elegant, velvety, long finish.
Sipped "neat" as an after-dinner drink, the liqueur can also be mixed into a number of classic cocktails. It pairs beautifully Brie, goat cheese and Roquefort, and is often added to flavor elegant desserts such as chocolate soufflé, tiramisu and crème brûlée.
The Grand Marnier story began in 1827, when Jean-Baptiste Lapostolle founded a fruit liqueur distillery in France. Later, Louis-Alexandre Marnier, a descendant of a notable wine-making family, married Lapostolle's granddaughter and joined the family business.
It was in 1880 that Marnier, a cognac connoisseur, first envisioned a liqueur bearing his name. After a trip to Haiti, he came up with the idea of blending cognac with a rare variety of bitter Haitian orange and giving it a period of barrel aging. The liqueur was originally called "Curacao Marnier," but when Marnier's friend, hotelier Cesar Ritz tasted the creation, he suggested a new name: "Grand Marnier."
The original Grand Marnier has a bright amber color and bitter orange flavor with hints of orange marmalade and hazelnuts.
Blended with extra cognac, this variety is drier and more intense. The copper-colored liqueur has a candied orange flavor with notes of pine, sandalwood and Earl Grey tea.
Cuvée du Centenaire
Launched in 1927 to honor the distillery's 100th anniversary, this dark amber colored liqueur has a deeper, more complex flavor. It's made from rare French cognacs and carries notes of dried fruit, gingerbread and nutmeg.
Cuvée du Cent-Cinquantenaire
Launched in 1977 to honor the distillery's 150th anniversary, this reddish-gold blend is made with very old cognacs from the Grand Champagne area. A favorite of cognac enthusiasts, the bitter orange flavor is enhanced with notes of coffee, honey and spices.
Most recipes only require a small amount of Grand Marnier for flavoring. If you don't have the need for an expensive, full-sized bottle, most liquor stores sell small, single-serving bottles for a reasonable price.