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Cointreau is produced by Rémy Cointreau, a Paris-based company that was founded in 1990 as a result of a merger. The liqueur itself, however, dates back to 1885 when the Cointreau family perfected its signature beverage in Angers, France. According to the official Cointreau website, the flavor of this liqueur was three times as concentrated as other liqueurs of the time period, while also being less sweet. To this day, the Cointreau Distillery is still located in Angers.
Over time, this orange liqueur has become so iconic that, like the greatest pop stars, it only needs one name to identify it. Cointreau is made with a mixture of bitter and sweet orange peels as well as sugar beet alcohol, which has a neutral flavor. It is distilled at least twice in copper stills.
❖ ABV: 40%
❖ Distillery: Cointreau Distillery
❖ Aging: N/A
❖ Price Point: Moderate Price
My Tasting notes
As I took my first whiff of this liqueur, the orange notes were immediately apparent, as one would expect. These orange notes have a sweet undertone. As I continued, I noticed that the orange scent was quite fresh and seemed to have a unique smooth quality that was hard to describe. The aroma was softened somehow – but at the same time ever-present.
As I took my first sip, the orange flavor really burst onto my tastebuds, and almost had a sparkly quality on the back of my tongue. As I continued, the orange flavor continued to be quite strong.
The bitter orange notes unlocked a childhood memory for me, as they tasted like the orange-flavored children’s dramamine tablets I was given before long car rides as a child. That’s not to say that the flavors were unpleasant or artificial – but perhaps the orange flavoring of the medicine was modeled after the same bitter oranges. It’s a surprisingly specific flavor note! Of course, the sweet orange notes work together with the bitter orange to make the overall flavor sweet and fresh.
Overall, my experience of drinking this liqueur straight was not too bad at all for a spirit that’s meant to be a mixer. I was excited to try it in a cocktail!
For my cocktail, I really wanted to try out one of the recipes on the Official Cointreau website. I decided to go with the Cointreau Fizz, as this drink looked intriguingly simple, and I could really put the flavor of Cointreau to the test.
❖ 2 oz Cointreau
❖ 1 oz lime juice
❖ 3 oz soda water
garnish: lime or orange twist
- Combine the Cointreau and lime juice together in a mixing glass.
- Top the mixture with soda water, and stir.
- garnish if desired.
Drinking Cointreau inside of a cocktail, I was very impressed. The liqueur is very smooth, and to be honest, it tasted like I was drinking a fresh limeade. I couldn’t taste the alcohol at all.
At first, it was a bit difficult to detect the orange notes against the lime. However, I think I just needed to stir my drink more often, as the Cointreau is a bit heavy. The bitter orange notes came out towards the middle of my cocktail, and were quite pleasant and refreshing.
I also found that the cocktail is very well balanced, which means the Cointreau was doing some leg work to sweeten the overall mixture. After all – there are no sweeteners in the recipe. The Cointreau cut the tartness of the lime juice nicely, without making the cocktail overly sweet. I think this might be my new favorite drink!
Overall, I found that Cointreau really holds up to the hype! It definitely upgrades the quality of any cocktail that calls for orange liqueur. As a mixer, it adds a nice fresh orange flavor that is easy to balance.
I also feel that the price range is very fair. Taking into account all the orange liqueurs out there, Cointreau is priced pretty much in the middle of the pack. It’s ideal for situations where you want to impress someone with a simple cocktail.
As a new home bartender, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of choosing the cheapest citrus mixer available, thinking it’s not as important as the main spirit in a drink. However – sometimes, upgrading your mixer spirit to something higher quality is all you really need to make folks think you have a magic home bartending touch! I would definitely recommend Cointreau to anyone wanting to upgrade their citrus mixer game – while still getting a great value.
As always, drink responsibly.