The history of Grand Marnier dates six generations back to 1827 when Jean Baptiste Lapostolle built a high-quality fruit liqueurs distillery in Neauphle-le-Château, a small city outside of Paris. Fast forward to 1876, the granddaughter of Lapostolle married Louis-Alexandre Marnier, a man from a family of wine merchants who also distributed Lapostolle's products. Louis-Alexandre had a bold idea to mix cognac with a rare variety of oranges from the Caribbean. This avant-garde way of thinking was the birth of Grand Marinier orange and cognac liqueur, whose recipe has remained unchanged.
Last week, Grand Marnier and celebrity stylist and fashion designer, Jason Rembert, collaborated to celebrate maximalism. Both brands work closely with the style principle - emphasizing unexpected twists, layered sophistication, and bold ideals. At the event, held at the Gansevoort Rooftop in NYC, Rembert debuted his JR Maximalist Margarita created specifically for his tastes and styled by him.
A Summer Soiree In NYC
When daydreaming about summer in New York City, a classic rooftop party typically sets the scene. You're surrounded by skyline views, warm air, groovy tunes, and delicious drinks.
The Gansevoort soiree hosted by Rembert in collaboration with Grand Marnier took guests through an interactive cocktail experience. They learned about the liqueur's way of elevating a classic margarita, giving it maximalist potential, by blending cognac and orange. Guests were then able to take things a step further and challenge their styling skills by adding garnishes and glassware, all of which were curated by Rembert, to fit their own unique styles.
If you missed the festivities or wished you could've brought some style home with you, here's the recipe for Rembert's JR Maximalist Margarita:
1.5 oz Espolón Blanco Tequila
0.75 oz Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
0.5 oz Passion Fruit Puree (Boiron)
0.5 oz Lime
0.5 oz Simple Syrup
Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain and serve in a coupe glass with a half rim of black salt. Garnish with half a passion fruit.
Within The Barrels At Grand Marnier
Louis-Alexandre was inspired by the sophisticated profile of a traditional cognac still, leading him to trademark a new [iconic] bottle shape with the help of crystal specialists at Baccarat, the finest maker of crystal glassware in France. In addition, he adopted the wax seal and the infamous red ribbon, creating the signature look that is still used today.
When explaining the art of creating their cognac, Grand Marnier writes on their site, “Grapes are the heart and soul of Cognac. During the harvest, we source Ugni Blanc grapes from the Cognac region. This late-ripening variety has good resistance to grey mould and produces a wine with two fundamental characteristics: a high level of acidity and a generally low alcohol content. These characteristics are important because the acidity naturally preserves the wine before distillation, while the low alcohol content allows a higher concentration of aromas. Ugni Blanc grapes are therefore perfect for distillation and the production of delicate, floral eaux-de-vie.”
They go on to reveal their method of double distillation in copper stills, being the catalyst for its detailed character. this process hones into being the "heart" of the liquid.
In oak casks, Grand Marnier ages the clear eau-de-vie to give it its unique color. This slow transformation allowed the liquid components to mature and pull out the flavors, aromas, and tannins from the oak cask.
They conclude by writing, "Cognac is rarely derived from a single eau-de-vie. With a great deal of expertise, paired with the intuition and know-how passed down from generation to generation, our Master Blender pairs different aged eaux-de-vie and crus in order to obtain a unique, complex, and well-balanced XO, XXO, and VSOP Grand Marnier cognac."
As for the blend of orange, the fruits are handpicked while they are still green, ensuring they're at their aromatic peak. To preserve the essential oils found in the skin of the orange and, the flavor, the peels are dried in the sun before being sent to the distillery.
Once arriving at the Château de Bourg-Charente the albedo - the thicker layer of the skin - is separated from the zest. For eight days the zest is soaked in neutral alcohol to draw the oils out. Following that is a slow distillation that draws the flavor from each peel, leaving only the purest essence for the cognac to blend with.